Do you need travel insurance coverage for trips outside your province?

Are you the type of traveller who loves exploring new cultures and countries? Or, do you prefer the variety of great experiences our home and native land has to offer? Either way, if your vacation plans take you outside your home province or territory, your government health insurance plan (GHIP) may not cover all your medical expenses. Travel insurance coverage can help you avoid unexpected fees. Here's what you need to know.

Travelling within Canada – What’s covered by your GHIP?

If you require emergency medical care in another Canadian province or territory, you can see a doctor or visit a hospital without having to pick up the tab. The Canada Health Act requires all provinces and territories to extend GHIP coverage to residents who are temporarily elsewhere in Canada. Each province has their own limit for how long you can be away from home and still have access to coverage. Visit your local ministry of health website for more details on coverage requirements, limits and exceptions.

In most cases, the province you’re visiting will bill your home province directly. You won’t have to cover costs upfront – unless you’re visiting Quebec. As the only province not to sign an interprovincial billing agreement, Quebec’s visitors may have to pay for medical costs and then submit claims for reimbursement to their home province. In some cases, this also may be true for Quebec residents visiting other provinces.

Wherever you are, you’ll need your health card to prove you’re insured. Don’t forget to bring it with you.

What’s not covered within Canada?

Not all medical expenses are covered by your GHIP if you’re outside your home province. Here are just a few of the services you may be on the hook for:

  • Accidental dental care
  • Prescription drugs
  • Ambulance
  • Air ambulance
  • Transportation back home

In addition, your insurance coverage for emergency medical care may only amount to the cost of the service in your home province; you pay the difference, if fees are higher in the province you're visiting.

If you have group health insurance through your employer, check to see whether your plan covers these expenses. If not, see how a travel insurance plan can fill the gap, so you can enjoy your travels across Canada to the fullest.

Travelling outside Canada – How much coverage does your GHIP provide?

If you get sick or injured while travelling outside Canada, your GHIP may only pay a small portion of your medical expenses (generally less than 10%).

For example, a trip to a U.S. hospital may climb from $10,000 to $100,000 USD or more. Depending on your province, you may be entitled to:

  • A limited reimbursement per day for in-patient care (usually a few hundred dollars or less).
  • A reimbursement up to the rates for the same services at home (usually just a fraction of the total cost).
  • Nothing at all. Some provinces, like Ontario, are eliminating out-of-country coverage altogether.

Private travel insurance is an affordable way to protect yourself against these costs. It provides up to $10 million in emergency medical and hospital coverage, as well as 24/7 emergency travel assistance from a knowledgeable and helpful team. You can also add coverage for non-medical travel expenses, like cancelled flights and lost baggage.

Keep in mind that travel insurance doesn't cover everything; there are certain conditions, exclusions and limitations. Talk to your Financial Advisor if you have questions and read over your insurance policy carefully before you travel.

Is your credit card enough?

Many Canadians have some form of travel insurance or trip insurance through a credit card. Be careful when relying on this type of insurance, as coverage may be restricted to the cardholder or to non-medical expenses. Before you travel abroad, check with your credit card company or group health insurance provider to make sure you’re properly protected.

Travel insurance does not cover everything. For complete terms, conditions, limitations and exclusions, please refer to the policy. Travel insurance is underwritten by CUMIS General Insurance Company, a member of the Co-operators group of companies and administered by Allianz Global Assistance, which is a registered business name of AZGA Service Canada Inc.