Canadians made 4.55 million overnight trips to the U.S. throughout the first 10 months of 2020, compared to 17.2 million in 2019 a stat that was highly effected by the on going global pandemic.
If you're traveling abroad, you're going to need travel insurance. It can cover you if you fall ill or become injured when you're away, as well as providing cover for your belongings.
With so many insurance companies and policies to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start.
So read on as we look at 13 tips for choosing the best travel insurance policy for your needs.
1. Check Your Credit Card
Before you start shelling out for a travel insurance policy, take a look at the perks offered by your credit card.
Many credit cards will offer some sort of travel insurance as an incentive to choose their product. You may find that you already have adequate travel insurance for your trip.
This is the most important word, however: adequate. Make sure you read the fine print to discover exactly what is and isn't covered. There may be important exceptions such as no cover for medical or evacuation, or restrictions on baggage cover.
Read through the policy in detail. Remember if it's free, it may not always be of the highest standard.
2. Check Your Home Insurance
When it comes to your personal belongings, it's always worth checking your home insurance policy too.
Some home insurance will cover personal property outside of the home, even when you are traveling abroad. This can save you from getting this covered on your travel insurance policy, which will bring the price down.
Once again, be sure to read the wording of your home insurance policy carefully. There may be exclusions, limits, or hefty deductibles that mean you're better off covering your things through a dedicated travel insurance policy instead.
3. Annual or Single Trip?
Are you planning to travel more than once this year?
If so, you may be able to save money by taking out an annual multi-trip policy. This will cover you for a number of trips throughout the year, provided that they are not longer than your policy specifies. This is usually somewhere between 3 weeks to a month.
If you're looking at doing a number of fairly short trips throughout the year, then an annual policy could save you some serious money.
4. Are You Traveling with Your Family?
Just as an annual policy can save you money if you travel multiple times, a family policy could save you money if you're traveling with your partner and kids.
Everyone on the policy will usually get the same levels of cover. The definition of a family will vary from one provider to the next, but it frequently means two adults and up to four children under the age of 18, who still live at home. If you're a single parent or have more than four kids, you should still be able to find a policy to suit your needs.
Family travel insurance is also far less hassle to set up as you only need to arrange one policy, rather than a separate policy for each person who is traveling.
5. Don't Buy from Your Travel Agent
If you book your vacation through a travel agent, they will usually try to persuade you to take out travel insurance through them. This is rarely a good idea.
The likelihood is that they are taking a commission from the insurer for selling their policy for them. And where does that commission come from? It's probably added to the price of your insurance.
You're very unlikely to find the best cover for the best price if you get your insurance through your agent. By all means, take a look at what they offer. But make sure you compare it to other policies you can find elsewhere before you sign on the dotted line.
6. How Much Are You Covered For?
Not all travel insurance is created equal.
You need to be clear on exactly the amounts that you are covered for. $10 million may seem like overkill, but the record payout for medical expenses was £2 million (about $3.5 million) and that's not a bill you'd want to end up having to foot yourself.
You also want to ensure that you have enough cancellation cover to reimburse you what you paid for your trip, as well as enough baggage cover for your belongings and personal liability coverage that's well into the millions too.
7. Are You Taking Expensive Gear?
Every policy will have a limit on how much cover is offered for personal belongings.
If you're traveling with expensive items such as a DSLR camera or a high-end laptop, the total cover on your policy may not be enough to cover these items. Some policies will have higher levels of cover for individual items, although this is usually the same as the total baggage limit.
If you need it, there are insurers who will cover more expensive items for an additional premium. Just make sure you have enough coverage for the gear you're taking with you.
8. Be Wary of Exclusions
Every insurance policy will come with exclusions. You need to be sure of what these are before you purchase your travel insurance.
Most policies will exclude things known acts of god, including severe weather or natural disasters. Terrorism, war, or civil uprising are also not covered by the majority of insurers.
Pre-existing medical conditions may also not be covered. You must declare these when you take out your policy, and you may need to pay an additional premium to have them covered. Many policies will also have an upper age limit for who they are willing to cover.
Always check the exclusions thoroughly before you agree to take out insurance, as once you've taken it out it may be too late. You may also be surprised to discover some of the things your policy does cover.
9. Does It Include Repatriation?
If you're in an accident or fall ill abroad, you may need to spend a lengthy stay in hospital.
If the date of your pre-booked return flights come and go, you're now stuck a long way from home with no flight back. Repatriation ensures that if this happens, your insurance company will pay for your return home.
It can also help with returning home in order to receive further treatment. This means that you can have medical care in your own country rather than in a foreign one.
10. Read the Policy
We really can't stress this one enough. You get what you pay for, and if you don't read your policy, how can you possibly know what you're actually paying for?
Always read through the policy terms and conditions as well as confirming the levels of cover for everything that your policy includes. Each policy is different and what is covered by one policy may not be covered by the next.
The only way you can be certain of what you are and aren't covered for is by reading the details.
11. Check the Cancellation Terms
If there's a reason that you need to cancel a trip that you've already booked and paid for then you'll want to be able to claim that money back.
Cancellation cover can offer you exactly that, but once again you'll need to be aware of the terms of your policy. Most will cover you if you fall ill or get called for jury service. Many will also cover the illness of a close relative, but the definition of what constitutes a close relative will change from policy to policy.
It is highly advisable to take out cancellation insurance at the same time as booking your trip. If something happens before you get a chance to arrange insurance, you're not covered.
Whilst we'd all like to pay less for our insurance, you should be very careful about adding a deductible that is too high. Healthcare costs, in particular, can quickly rack up when you're traveling. Think about whether you'd actually be willing to pay your $250 deductible to cover a doctor's appointment.
13. Shop Around
There are a lot of insurance providers out there, all offering different products at different prices.
So it really does pay to shop around. Make sure that you are always comparing like with like. One policy may be cheaper than another, but are they actually offering the same levels of cover? Decide on exactly the cover you want, then compare providers who can offer that until you find the one you want to go with.
The best way to do so is to use a good comparison website.
Are You Looking for a Great Travel Insurance Policy?
If you're looking for a travel insurance policy that ticks all the boxes, then we're here to help.
We are a fast, free and easy-to-use insurance quotes comparison website in Canada and North America. Compare insurance quotes side by side to find the options that suit you the best at the lowest price. We work with most major insurance and financial institutions in Canada with access to the best and lowest rates.