Canada Travel Insurance Review

I got all the prices below and information in 2010 2012 2014. Update! I’ve verified all of the prices and policies as of 2014.

Travel insurance can kill a travel budget for anyone. We feel the pinch especially hard, since we’re buying travel insurance for a family of four.

When I searched high and low for travel insurance comparisons and reviews for our upcoming trip, I found absolutely nothing (other then the awesome

) that would help me compare prices and insurance. So I had to do hours of legwork to get the best prices and policies, and I’ve shared them in this review.

For six months of travel, for a family of four, we got quotes ranging from $418.51 to a whopping $2,461.92 for worldwide travel medical insurance, including the USA.

Prices and policies can change almost overnight, so do your own research. This travel insurance review should give a great starting point, though. All prices are in Canadian dollars, although some of the companies (especially

) will cover people all around the world.

A quick explanation before I name names and point fingers in the review. Travel insurance almost always means medical travel insurance, which includes set amount of coverage (usually one to five million dollars per person for travel accidents and illness). Many travel insurance packages include coverage for baggage, trip cancellation, trip interruption and even emergency dental. Only buy what you need, and you’ll save a lot of money.

World Nomads

travel insurance, available through Lonely Planet, was one of the cheapest policies we found, that also happens to include a lot of extras like trip cancellation and coverage for sports.

travel insurance is underwritten by Travel Guard AIG Insurance Company of Canada.

  • $814.90 for six months, for a family of four.
  • $5 million travel medical insurance.
  • World-wide, including USA.
  • No deductible.
  • Extensions are allowed during a trip, even if you’re not in our country of residence.
  • You can buy this insurance after you’ve started you trip, even if you’re not in your country of residence.  This is a huge bonus, especially if you’ve somehow forgotten to get insurance before you leave.
  • valid provincial health insurance required for the entire duration of our trip.
  • Refund available within a short period (10 or 14 days, depending where I looked on their website) after the issue of a Confirmation Letter and of the policy wording, if the trip hasn’t started, and no claim has been made.
  • Trip Cancellation: $1,000 per insured.
  • Trip Interruption: $5,000 per insured.
  • $2,500 luggage and personal effects
  • $2,500 sporting equipment coverage
  •  offers baggage and personal effects insurance, and also covers cameras and computers, which is very rare (most policies exclude cell phones, computers, and most electronics).  Policy covers prescription eyeglasses. However, there are exclusions to the coverage, for example if your belongings are left unattended in public place or if unattended in car.
  • They cover adventure activities like snorkeling or scuba diving.
  •  offers 24 Hour World Wide Emergency Assistance.
  • You may extend your policy while on your trip, but NOT if your policy has expired, if you have a finalized Luggage and Personal Effects claim of CAD$2,500 or more.  Coverage can be extended  up to a maximum trip length of 365 days provided you have obtained an extension of your provincial health insurance plan.

World Escapade

When we took our trip, I didn’t know about

 insurance. However, I’ve included them in this 2014 update, as they offer one of the cheapest plans available, and they would have definitly made our short list.

  • $741.60 for six months, for a family of four, including the USA.
  • $5 million emergency medical insurance.
  • $0 deductible.
  • You must be under 60 years of age to get coverage longer than 23 days.
  • 365 day trip maximum, if you’ve been granted an extension by your government health insurance plan.
  • 24 hour emergency medical assistance.
  • They’ll give a full refund if you make the request in writing before the effective date of coverage. You can get a partial refund after leaving on your trip, if you haven’t made a claim, and you make the request within 90 days of the expiry date.
  • Adding $6,000 trip cancellation and unlimited trip interruption coverage added $452.00 to the cost.
  • No baggage or personal effect coverage.
  • Unlike many insurance companies, they cover most sports activities (except motorized sports and participation as a professional athletes), which is a great perk if you plan on hiking, scuba diving, or para sailing.
  •  insurance is underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada.

TD Meloche Monnex

We signed up with TD Meloche Monnex: Wide Horizons Solution on our last six month trip though Costa Rica, Mexico, Florida and Texas. Although we didn’t have to make a claim, their customer service was extremely professional and patient when answering all of my questions about the quote.

  • $448.51 for six months, for a family of four. Since we have tenants’ insurance with Meloche, we get a good discount on the premium.
  • This is a great deal, as it includes a 60 day multi-trip plan that will let us take unlimited trips (of up to 60 days) anywhere in the world for $160 per year. The additional four months top up coverage cost us $291.51 (for a total of $418.51).
  • If we didn’t have home, tenants’ insurance, or auto insurance with Meloche , the cost for our initial 60 day multi-trip plan would $397.00 plus $301.51 for the additional days for a total of $698.51.
  • You can get an initial quote online, but their online quote system is very limited. You’ll need to call Meloche to buy your policy. Meloche’s number is 1-866-566-1464.
  • $5 million emergency medical insurance, per person.
  • $100 deductible (most deductibles with other companies are 0). It was worth the higher deductible, given that the premium is so low. You can also choose a $250, $500 or $1,000 deductible.
  • Free international assistance, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Full refund available anytime during our trip, less a $20 fee.
  • Extensions are available while on our trip, but if there’s a claim on file, the extension must be verified by risk manager.  You must also have valid provincial health coverage.
  • World-wide, including USA, but excludes countries with Government of Alberta or Canada travel warnings.
  • Trip cancellation up to $2,500 per person,  maximum $5,000 per family for each annual period of coverage.
  • Trip interruption up to $5,000 per person, per covered trip.
  • No baggage or personal effects insurance.
  • Brochure of coverage.
  • If we purchase additional tickets/flights after leaving on trip, these are not eligible for trip cancellation/baggage insurance.
  • Adventure activities like scuba diving are covered.  There were some exceptions, including ultralight flights and paid sports activities, I believe, but they didn’t apply to us.
  • Like all the other policies we looked at, we were required to have valid provincial health insurance for the entire duration of our trip.

Bon Voyage Travel Insurance

We used Travel CUTS Bon Voyage insurance insurance for our last trips to Asia and the Philippines. We ended up claiming a few days in a hospital in Thailand, and they were great. If we’d been a single traveller, Bon Voyage or

 would probably have been our choice for insurance.

Bon Vogage has several plans, but we were interested only in Plan D, the Emergency Medical and Hospital Expenses Plan.

  • 1,506.00 for six months, for a family of four. This has increased significantly from when I last did the quote in 2012, when the quote was $916.00.
  • Unlimited emergency medical insurance per person.
  • Insurance must be purchased within 48 hours of booking your trip.
  • You can be covered up to a maximum of 365 days, but you must have valid government health insurance plan for the entire duration of your trip.
  • Bon Voyage insurance only covers travellers under age 60.
  • For extensions while on your trip, you must call at least 10 days before your coverage expires and confirm that your provincial health plan is in effect for the full length of your travel period.
  • Coverage includes adventure activities, including  Ballooning, Bungee Jumping, Diving, Gliding, Hiking, Jet-Boating, Kayaking, Parachuting, Paragliding, Skiing, Snowboarding, Surfing, Whitewater rafting, but does not cover professional sports, scuba diving without a scuba designation like PADI, or motor racing.
  • You can get a full refund if your trip is cancelled before you depart on your trip.  You can get a partial refund after you’ve left on trip, if you haven’t made a claim, and if you provide proof of your date of return.

itravel2000

itravel2000 is one of my favorite sites to search for cheap all-inclusive last minute getaways and hotel rooms, so I thought I’d check out their travel insurance.  Wow. Pretty darn expensive.

  • A gulp-inducing $3,075.00 for six months for an all inclusive plan for family of four, including trip cancellation and interruption.
  • $1,573.20 for a global under age 60 plan, with $5 million in emergency medical benefits only, with no trip cancellation or interruption.

BMO

BMO travel insurance is one of Canada’s biggest names in travel insurance, so I thought I’d try them out.

  • $1,690.26 for six months insurance for a family of four.
  • $2,000,000 medical liability.
  • A refund is available 10 days after purchase, but not after leaving on a trip.
  • Trip home assist and medical assist and consult available.
  • Coverage can be extended after leaving, but there cannot be an open claim.
  • Trip cancellation $2500 per person, or $5000 per card.
  • Trip interruption $2000 per person.
  • Includes auto rental collision/loss damage coverage.
  • Baggage coverage of $750 per person. Coverage excludes exclude baggage or theft on computers, cell phones, contact lenses and glasses (pretty much the only expensive things we have).
  • Tickets need to be purchased on credit card to get trip cancellation and interruption coverage.

Sunova Visa Gold (Based on the Desjardins Travel Gold Visa card)

Sunova Credit Union with purchase of Sunova Gold credit card with $65 annual fee. The Sunova credit card issued by a small credit union in Manitoba, Canada, but based Desjardins credit card. If a Sunova card isn’t an option, a Desjardins card is very similar. The fees and details for the Desjardins card may vary a bit.

  • $981.62 for six months.
  • Word-wide, including USA.
  • $5,000,000 medical liability.
  • $2,000 trip cancellation.
  • $500 baggage.
  • Refund available anytime for unused portion.
  • Tip home assist.
  • Medical assist and consultation.
  • Can extend coverage after leaving, but cannot have an open claim.
  • The Desjardins Visa is available at numerous Credit Unions and Caisse Populaires across the country as well as Desjardins itself. The prices can vary depending on which bank you go through to get it.

Kanetix

 is on online insurance quote consolidator. I’m a big fan. They’ll let you compare a number of quotes side by side, and they’re usually a fairly good deal.  They do all sorts of insurance, including home, auto, and tenant’s insurance.

The best deals on

 were:

  • RSA insurance $1,002.84 for six months for a family of four for $5 million in emergency medical insurance and no trip cancellation or interruption insurance, with a zero deductible.
  • Travel underwriters $695.40 for six months for a family of four for $2 million in emergency medical insurance and no trip cancellation or interruption insurance, with a $250 deductible.
  • TIC travel insurance $1,039.44 for six months for a family of four for $10 million in emergency medical insurance and no trip cancellation or interruption insurance, with a zero deductible.
  • PC insurance was the cheapest all inclusive insurance at 1,172.00 for a family of four. For travelers rage 59 and under, emergency medical coverage was unlimited, but there was a $10 limit for travellers ag3 60 and over. The policy included trip interruption, trip cancellation and baggage insurance.

Compare travel insurance quotes.

What if you’re taking a short trip?

For trips of 60 days or less, consider getting a credit card with medical travel insurance. These often offer trip cancellation and interruption, along with baggage insurance. For Canada travel insurance, the cards we looked at were Sunova’s (Desjardins Travel Visa) Gold card ($65 annual fee, which included travel insurance), and BMO’s Air Miles Mosaic Gold Card (which charged $99 for travel insurance on top of the annual credit card fee).

Baggage coverage and personal effects coverage

Baggage coverage insures your bags while in transit (in airplanes, though this may extend to buses and taxis).

Personal effects coverage covers your belongings anywhere, on any portion of your trip. This sounds nice in theory, but I found that most policies had some serious exclusions.  They would only cover losses with a police report (makes sense, but a police report can be pretty damn hard to get in a lot of countries).  On top of that, most policies would not insure belongings that were unattended. That means that if your wallet is stolen from your beach chair while you’re body surfing, you’re out of luck. No coverage.

Even more important, most policies wouldn’t cover loss or theft of computers, cameras, or cell phones, or jewelery. Seriously. The only expensive things most people travel with aren’t covered.

Here’s a little trick, though. If you have insurance on your home or tenant’s insurance, then your belongings might be covered on your trip. Usually there’s a limit (around 10% of the total coverage on your original policy), and your deductible applies to any claims while travelling.

 had pretty good coverage for personal effects, including computers and camera equipment.

Trip cancellation and interruption generally only cover the portion of your trip that you buy before you leave. Not especially useful for us, since we’re only buying a one-way ticket to Mexico before we leave, and the rest of our tickets will be bought once out of Canada. Not having a set itinerary means that we’ll buy onward legs (by plane, train, car, taxi, water taxi, ferry, cruise liner, or bus) as we need them. I couldn’t find a single travel insurance policy that would cover purchase of additional legs once we left home. Trust me, I tried. And tried.

A lot of Canada travel insurance reviews don’t mention this, but it’s important: If you’re gone for more than six months, ensure you get a written extension from your provincial health care plan (this applies only to Canadians).

Checklist for a travel insurance quote:

  • What is the amount of liability you cover?
  • Is trip cancellation or trip interruption insurance covered?
  • Is there a refund available for unused amount?
  • What is the deductible?
  • Do you offer a medical service assist, e.g., can you help me find a doctor or hospital?
  • Is the policy good worldwide, including the USA?
  • Can I top up my insurance once I’ve left on my trip?
  • Can I buy my initial insurance after I’ve left on my trip?

Compare travel insurance quotes.

Check out our new website!

We’ve had so many great responses to this article that we realized that other travellers were having the exact same problem we had: There are no good websites that do a good job of reviewing and comparing Canadian travel insurance.

We’ve started a new website called Canadian Travel Insurance Review that we hope will help all the travellers out there looking for reviews and comparisons of Canadian travel insurance. Check it out!

22 Responses

  1. Wanda Redwood

    After hours of research and banging my head against a wall, I found your website and your Travel Insurance Review.

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!! Based on the information you provided (very thorough!!) we have booked our travel insurance with TD Meloche Monnex Wide Horizons. Great company to deal with and very patient in answering any and all my questions.

    I can’t tell how much I appreciate the detail and effort you afforded your readers!! The weight off my mind, in knowing, that we have great coverage for the time we will be away, is tremendous.

    I only wish I would have found your site earlier!!

    Australia here we come!!

    Reply
    • Micki

      Wanda, Thanks so much for the pat on the back. Hope you’re loving Oz. We were there for six months in 2004, and had a great time.

      Reply
  2. Sydney

    Very helpful! Thank you for the detail in your post especially the “questions to ask” portion.
    Thanks again!

    Reply
  3. Asigurare locuinta

    I plan to keep in mind the list of questions you have mentioned. I find it helpful!

    Reply
  4. Sandra Pickett

    My husband and I are going on a Caribbean cruise next February 2013 going out of Miami Florida.We are from Ontario Canada. We are interested in all inclusive travel insurance and of course want good medical coverage.In the event of a serious medical problem we need coverage to include an airlift off the ship or by boat.We have gone on other cruises thinking that this was part of the medical coverage only to recently discover that not all plans cover this.Hopefully this would never happen but I have heard that this could happen if the ship couldn’t treat you if you were seriously ill or injured.Do you know which insurance companies cover this?

    Reply
    • Micki Kosman

      Hi Sandra,

      The Government of Canada has an informative article called Advice for Cruise Travellers. They say that you should “Purchase travel health insurance that includes at least $500,000 in coverage for accidental injury, hospitalization abroad, and medical evacuation at sea (the cost of medically evacuating a patient from a cruise ship by helicopter can easily reach $150,000).”

      I looked a bit into specific policies to get you started, but keep in mind that I’m just a fellow traveller, not an insurance agent. Make sure you read your policy and chat with your insurance company for any clarification. You’ll need to call the companies directly to specifically ask if your specific policy covers emergency transport by helicopter while at sea.

      I did a comparison quote search on Kanetix.ca, and came up with a couple of all inclusive policies that look like they cover an air ambulance. Click on the View sample policy link at the bottom of the quote to see policy details for yourself. Travel Guard Chartis Gold Deluxe’s policy notes that if you get “if Your attending Physician recommends Your return after Your Emergency Medical Treatment, and if approved in advance by Us, We cover, via the most cost-effective itinerary, one (1) or more of: … the cost of air ambulance transportation, pre-approved and arranged by Us”.

      Just to note, the Group Medical Services TravelStar All Inclusive policy quoted at Kanetix does NOT cover a helicopter transport.

      If you’re under age 60, World Nomads is a really good option. Their policy says “Once You have received Emergency Medical Care and Our consulting Physician determines You are able to and recommends that You return Home, We will arrange and pay for the following services and expenses to return You to Your province or territory of residence: … the cost of air ambulance transportation to the most appropriate facility in Your province or territory of residence, if the use of an air ambulance is required and Medically Necessary.” There’s a detailed review of World Nomads here.

      Another option is RBC insurance. They have a great reputation, but you need to be an existing RBC client, spouse or child of the client. They’re the only company I’m aware of that offers unlimited emergency medical insurance (most companies cap at $1 million or $5 million).

      The exact policy you get with RBC depends a lot on your age. I looked at an RBC policy quoted for people under 60, and the policy said they would pay for return to your departure point, “when pre-authorized and arranged by Assured Assistance Inc., when medically essential: the cost of air ambulance transportation if it is medically essential.” You can get an online quote with RBC at this link: http://www.rbcroyalbank.com/travelinsurance/index.html. Just be aware that you may need to buy a trip cancellation insurance add-on with them.

      I think you should be able to get emergency air evacuation at sea included with one of these Canadian companies. However, if that fails, there are a couple of international companies (that cover Canadians) that specialize in medical evacuation insurance. They’re MedjetAssist and International SOS.

      There’s a checklist that you can use for asking questions when getting a quote at Canadian Travel Insurance Review.

      Hope that helps a bit!

      Happy travels!

      Micki

      Reply
  5. TV

    Excellent site. Plenty of helpful info here. I’m sending it to some buddies and additionally sharing in delicious. And certainly, thanks for your sweat!

    Reply
  6. Ray B

    Can you suggest an insurance provider for ON resident, aged 63. Planning a 9 month trip through USA & Bahamas.

    Reply
    • Micki Kosman

      Hi Ray! Recommending a specific provider is pretty tough – it depends on so many things – preexisting conditions, what kind of coverage you want (basic medical, cancellation, interruption, baggage, or some mix), and how much you want.

      I always suggest to start with Kanetix to get a comparison quote, which will at least give you a baseline price you should pay, as their quotes tend to be pretty competitive. Squaremouth also gives quotes (there’s a review of Squaremouth here), and they have some really cool filters.

      Sounds like a great vacation, by the way!

      Reply
  7. Rodney M

    Hi,
    My bank (royal bank) tells me that our royal bank avion infinite visa has travel/medical insurance for when we travel. They said if I purchased a travel/medical insurance policy from the bank, it is a mirrored one of the one our visa offers us. Assured Assistance is the company that takes care of the insurance.
    Any info or advice would be appreciated
    thanks

    Reply
    • Micki Kosman

      Hi Rodney,

      Thanks so much for checking out our review. The RBC Avion Infinite Visa has a fairly comprehensive travel insurance package, which includes medical, cancellation, flight delay, trip interruption (but not cancellation!) insurance and travel accident insurance.

      There are a few potential differences between the Avion credit card insurance and the bank insurance policy:
      -The RBC Avion credit card insurance is multi-trip insurance, meaning it insures you for multiple trips, but each trip is only 15 days in length, if you’re 64 or under (and 3 days per trip if you’re over 65). You can purchase additional insurance for an individual trip.
      – You must charge the full cost of your trip, including flights, accomodation, and hotel to the credit card for the RBC Avion credit card insurance to be valid
      – RBC Avion insurance provides Auto Rental Collision/Loss Damage Insurance, which I don’t think is included in RBC’s bank travel insurance policies

      We’ve written a review of RBC’s travel insurance plans on our Canadian Travel Insurance Review site (which we started when we saw how much need there was for an independent look at travel insurance in Canada). There’s also a checklist of questions to ask when you get a travel insurance quote.

      Hope that helps. Really, I know it’s about as much fun as watching paint dry, but you should sit down with both insurance policies certificates of insurance (and a really strong pot of coffee) and compare them to make sure they meet your needs. You can get a copy of the RBC Insurance and Protection Booklet through the insurance and protection tab on the RBC Visa Infinite Avion web page, and view the RBC bank insurance policies through the RBC Travel insurance site.

      Have a wonderful trip!

      Reply
  8. Linda

    wow.. what a blog…it tells me about travel insurance and i am also looking for that kind of information…this blog helps me… thnx for the post… i like it..

    Reply
  9. Sadiq

    Little confused about travel insurance and health insurance. I’m an American and need health insurance for 3 months.I will be in Toronto for next 3 months.
    Can someone help me to find a link or web site to buy only health insurance for 3 months ? Does Credit card provide health insurance only ?

    Reply
    • Micki Kosman

      Hi Sadiq,

      Thanks for visiting. You can buy insurance for only three months from almost any company – that shouldn’t be a problem. The insurance provided by a credit card really depends on the card – all cards are different, so you’ll have to look at the travel insurance terms carefully. As an American, you’ll need to get a American credit card. I’m not overly familiar with American credit cards, but American Express may be a decent place to start, as I know they offer travel insurance on some of their cards.

      Reply
  10. Bob J.

    I see on some credit union websites that included with their Gold and Platinum Mastercard credit cards is free travel medical insurance up to age 75 and up to 31 days travel with no deductible and preconditions! By comparison bank premium credit cards offer similar coverage but only to age 65.

    I did talk to the people there who confirmed the above info. However to get more than 31 day coverage they referred me to their insurance partner who could do the top-up coverage. I did talk to them as well but found the top-up coverage more expensive than my existing insurer TD Monnex Meloche.

    In any case the base coverage through the Cuets credit card is particularly good for retirees over 65 up to age 75. The Cuets people also told me that I was not obligated to purchase the top-up insurance from their partner so I could shop around for the best price.

    Have you any more info on purchasing a credit card through a credit union and getting their travel insurance package?

    Reply
  11. Bernice

    I am 67 years and thankfully in great health, however while looking for travel insurance, I can only get a quote for anyone 60 and under – all others must call in and speak to an agent. I have answered 3 pages of medical questions – all No, No, No, and it seems that they don’t believe me. I am still asked to call a 1-800 number. I think this is age discrimination. Why do they think that everyone over 60 is on medication or had operations? I do not even take headache medicine!!!

    Reply
    • Charles Kosman

      It’s definitely age stereotyping Bernice. Just like car rental companies charge more for under 25 drivers regardless of their history. The simple fact is that most people over a certain age are more likely to have had complications in their past and are more likely to have some on their trip. It sucks they make you jump through more hoops however consider yourself fortunate Bernice that you’re in great shape and your premiums will be a lot less than others who aren’t as lucky.

      Insurance is just a math game based on likely odds that at the end of the day the company is making more money than they’re paying out. We buy insurance on the principle that if the odds aren’t in our favor that we don’t lose everything we have paying sometimes exorbitant health costs. It really is just like gambling. If on a much more serious level.

      Have fun on your trip!

      Reply
  12. Bill

    I’ve been using Kanetix to find better insurance rates for everything and it seems to work fine–fast too, and saves you the trouble of entering all your info. multiple times. Reputable companies come up in the quotes and the site normally gives you about 5 options in the final quotation which you can easily revise and compare for different options.

    Once you get older, the insurance provided on a credit card may no longer be available (I believe it cuts off at age 60 or 65 for most credit cards). Also, rates from most of the banks are too expensive, except for car and house insurance which I obtained excellent rates from TD Insurance (don’t know if they also provide travel insurance since I did not ask, but I guess they probably do as they are in the credit card business too).

    Reply
  13. kiki

    Hello!

    This is great! I’m looking into the medical insurance required for the youth mobility visa to Spain and its been a headache! Its for a year and requires hospitalisation and repatriation for over 3 million canadian dollars. I wanted to ask you about the written extension from the provincial health care plan. What is this about?

    Thanks!

    Reply

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