After a few summers of pandemic restrictions, my family and I are ready to travel beyond our backyard! Planning a trip is usually always a bit stressful, and planning to travel in a post-pandemic world can amplify that. But having a to-do list certainly helps me stay organized and feeling in control. One of the things I checked off my vacation planning to-do list is getting travel insurance.

This type of insurance is something I may have skipped in the past and trusted that everything would be fine. But living through a pandemic changed my perspective. I now plan for the worst, and hope for the best. Of course, I hope my family will stay healthy when we’re travelling (and when we’re at home, for that matter). However, we bought travel insurance anyway. Like it or not, our provincial health insurance plan only covers expenses within our home province. But with travel insurance, we can feel protected no matter where we go.

Curious how it works? I’ll answer a few questions you may have:

When do you need to buy travel insurance?

It’s a good idea to buy travel insurance as soon as you book a trip. Why that soon? Travel insurance can sometimes include trip cancellation benefits. This may help you recover costs if you cancel your travel plans (due to a covered reason) leading up to your trip.

Do you only need emergency medical coverage? Then you can buy a plan any time before you leave your home province.

Do you need travel insurance for a weekend away?

If you plan to travel, it’s a good idea to buy travel insurance before you leave, whether you’re:

  • taking a quick trip across the border,
  • spending a week in another province, or
  • planning an extended stay overseas.

How much does travel insurance cost?

The cost of travel insurance can vary depending on factors like:

  • your age and health needs,
  • the duration of your trip,
  • where you’re travelling,
  • and more.

While travel insurance costs vary, the average is somewhere between 4-12% of your total trip cost. For a $5,000 trip, the average travel insurance cost is about $228. Compare that to the cost of a few stitches in a US hospital, which could be upwards of $3,000. The price of insurance is clearly worth it. Especially since medical expenses have the potential to be financially overwhelming.

Not to mention if you have a serious injury or illness.

Why is travel insurance important to me?

We’re planning a road trip to the US and staying with friends for about a week. It’s going to be low-key and relaxing (fingers crossed). Even if our plans are not overly adventurous, it’s not without risk. A broken arm, a chipped tooth, or a lost credit card is still possible.

The last major family vacation we took, both my partner and I experienced food poisoning. Not fun. But not serious either. However, it would have been reassuring to know we could use travel insurance to pay for a hospital stay – if needed.

Things will be different this time. Because we’re travelling with two young kids, in unfamiliar settings, it’s even more important to protect ourselves. While we’re away this summer, I know that our travel insurance will help if we:

  • have an unexpected hospital visit, ambulance ride, or emergency dentist visit,
  • lose our documents or cards – or have them stolen, or
  • need to return home for a medical reason.

And, it’s nice to know our insurance would cover translation services if we needed it.

Read more: Planning your travel 

Can you rely on your credit card insurance for travel?

In the past, I trusted that the coverage offered through my credit card plan was enough. But this type of coverage often has limited benefits and coverage. Before trusting it’s enough, check what the coverage limits are. And then, fill in any coverage gaps with travel insurance through an advisor.  

How can you get travel insurance?

It’s impossible to predict what might happen while traveling. That’s why it’s important to:

  • Consider all the potential risks associated with travel, no matter how long or short the trip.
  • Understand how your provincial health plan may:
    • only cover some healthcare expenses incurred outside Canada, and
    • limit coverage when traveling to another province.

To help make sure you’re protected from medical bills while travelling, meet an advisor. They can help explain your travel insurance options.

For more information about travel insurance from Sun Life, including FAQs, visit our Travel Insurance page.

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This article is meant to provide general information only. It’s not professional medical advice, or a substitute for that advice.