Beginners Guide For Traveling Abroad (Why Travel Insurance Should Be #1 On Your List)

Posted on May 20, 2019

Canadians went on 12.8 million foreign trips in 2017.

The number of Canadians traveling abroad is increasing each year, both in trips to the United States and further afield.

But, if you're going abroad, should you look into getting travel insurance? The answer is a resounding yes, and in this blog post, we'll go over some of the reasons why you should have everything in order before you get in the car or board the plane.

Read on to find out why insurance should be your number one priority.

Unexpected Health Issues

You may generally be a healthy person and decide you'll forego the health insurance option. While nine times out of ten, this may work out just fine for you, but what happens when you become unexpectedly ill?

Even if you travel within Canada, some provinces will not cover your care if you're not from that province without insurance. In reality, this means you're taking a big risk.

An unexpected health issue could cost you thousands of dollars out of pocket.

In the United Kingdom, a popular destination for Canadian tourists, if you become ill without insurance, you'll be charged at 150% the NHS (National Health Insurance) rate.

In some countries, a life or death situation means you'll receive free treatment, but this isn't always the case. Many countries won't let you leave the hospital without presenting your credit card details.

If you only budgeted to spend a certain amount of money abroad, then this could put a huge damper on that, and eat into your savings.


If you're abroad, you might be participating in some pretty fun activities. These may include things like river rafting, rock climbing, canoeing, riding on a motorcycle and other fun, but potentially dangerous things.

While these things are great for memories, they're also a magnet for bad things to happen to you accidentally. And as we stated above, in many countries, you won't get treated until you pull out your wallet.

Depending on where you're vacationing, you may get emergency services for free in order to save your life or limb. But anything beyond that, such as hospital admission, can be incredibly costly.

If you've got insurance, you won't have to worry about any of this, and you'll be on your way to recovery without fretting about a huge bill.

Medical Standards

Let's face it: not every country is as clean or as advanced as Canada when it comes to healthcare providers. Some state-run hospitals are very basic compared to Canada and can provoke some seriously shocking reactions when you're abroad.

Travel insurance typically allows you to access private healthcare when abroad. This is not only quicker to receive, but it is also usually more advanced and cleaner. You won't be faced with dirty hospitals and questionable equipment if you've got insurance, and can instead, rest assured that everything is clean and tidy.

Comfort Level

Again, if you're hospitalized in a foreign country, it can be extremely uncomfortable. This doesn't just mean that the hospitals are cleaner or have better facilities, but often they're more comfortable when you're in a private facility.

If you're in a public hospital, you may have to share a room that isn't up to your standards with a large group of people. This can make it difficult to rest and recover from your illness or injuries.

However, if you have private care, you'll typically be in a private hospital or the private wing of a hospital. You'll often get a private room or a semi-private room.

Additionally, you'll also get other amenities that aren't always available to everyone in the hospital. These may include access to television, newspapers and the Internet to keep you from getting too bored while you have treatment.

Doctors Who Speak English

Often times, private healthcare you'll receive through your insurance will give you access to a hospital or clinic that treats lots of expatriates or people on vacation. This means they're used to treating people who speak English.

In many countries, English isn't widely spoken, so if you go to the doctor thinking you have an emergency, it'll be very difficult to convey what's going on.

But, if the doctor speaks English, he or she will be able to properly diagnose and treat you.

Cancellation Insurance

Sometimes, you need to cancel a trip at the last minute. This can happen for any number of reasons, and if you're in that position, this can cost you a fortune if the trip was relatively expensive.

Cancellation insurance, for any reason, is more expensive than other types of insurance but is often times worth it. While you don't foresee anything bad happening to you that will force you to call off your trip, you never know.

A good cancellation insurance policy will reimburse you for canceling for almost any reason. Others will require that your reason meets specific standards. This may be the death of a close relative, health problems or other issues.

Without this insurance, you may just have to forfeit the price you paid for your trip.

Terrorism Insurance

Travel insurance often covers terrorism insurance. This means if a terrorist attack occurs and it is not recommended that Canadians travel to the country, you may receive compensation for the trip. This can be in the form of money, or being given a credit to take a trip with the same company later.

This insurance may also help protect you if an act of terrorism occurs in the country and you need to leave quickly. This way, you can change flights and cancel your hotel stay due to the imminent danger without having to forfeit all of the money you've spent.

Changing the Dates

Sometimes you just want to change the dates you're visiting instead of calling off your trip altogether. Maybe someone close to you passed away and you want to postpone your vacation. Or, maybe you've unexpectedly gotten the stomach flu and want to hold off on visiting your friends or family.

A good cancellation insurance will allow you to do this easily and without losing a ton of money. Sometimes, there may be a small fee associated with the switch, but not always.

Check the conditions of your insurance before you assume you can change the trip, as sometimes it may be cheaper to cancel the whole thing and then rebook it later.

Read the Fine Print

Having travel insurance is a great idea in almost all circumstances, but you'll need to read the fine print before you take them out. Not all insurances will cover every situation, so you'll need to be aware of this.

In matters of health issues, you may not be covered if you have an ongoing health issue. For instance, if you were diagnosed with an ear infection and then later take out insurance and decide to cancel the trip, you may not get the money back as the condition is now considered pre-existing.

This can also be the case if you suffer from a chronic illness or are battling a disease. If, for example, you have cancer and are looking to take a holiday away from it all, your insurance may not cover you if you fall ill due to your cancer. This may be something you'll have to pay out of pocket.

Likewise, not all injuries are covered in all insurance packages. If you're doing extreme sports, like skydiving or parasailing, your insurance company may not cover injuries sustained during these activities.

It is important to read the fine print and take out the appropriate policy so that you'll be covered no matter what the event is. Make sure you take out the appropriate insurance for your personal circumstances, and the activities you plan to partake in.

Should I Take Out Travel Insurance When Traveling Abroad?

Even if you're simply crossing the border into America for a few days, it is recommended that you take out insurance when traveling abroad. While traveling is definitely fun and exciting, you never know what could possibly happen to you during your trip.

You don't want to be spending your last few dollars on subpar medical care or forfeiting your trip because of an unforeseen circumstance.

If you're interested in learning more about some of the insurance we offer, click here. From travel to health to dental, we've got you and your family covered to help you keep your peace of mind and your family healthy.

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