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Whether you're a new Canadian resident or a seasoned northerner, understanding and comparing travel insurance plans is an important part of protecting yourself and your loved ones while you're traveling outside Canada. In this article, you'll learn the essential travel insurance basics so you can find the right policy for you.

Why you should buy travel insurance

According to the Canadian government, reasons to purchase travel insurance include the following

  • Your Canadian health insurance may not pay medical expenses incurred outside Canada.
  • In some countries, hospitals may refuse to treat you if you don’t have sufficient insurance or cash on hand to pay your expected medical bills.
  • Many overseas hospital bills can be quite expensive.

When you’re outside Canada, you don’t want to suddenly find yourself unable to get medical treatment just because you weren’t prepared. Travel insurance can give you peace of mind when you’re off on your adventures. Go climb Kilimanjaro, or run with the bulls, or scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef — and rest easy knowing you’re covered if something goes wrong!

Travel insurance can also reimburse you for cancelled trips, delayed flights, and lost baggage. Many policies will also pay for evacuation back to Canada in the event of an emergency.

Woman standing at the summit of Kilimanjaro
Summit Kilimanjaro with no fear knowing that you’re covered if anything goes wrong.

Be mindful of exclusions

Travel insurance is a great way to protect yourself while travelling, but most policies have a list of exclusions from coverage. Make sure to read your insurance contract to understand which activities are covered.

Common exclusions include:

  • Injuries that occurred while the insured was intoxicated, such as falling off of a ledge after consuming alcohol.
  • Injuries from high-risk activities like skydiving, parasailing, or swimming with sharks. If you’re planning on engaging in extreme sports, consider purchasing additional coverage for high-risk activities. We recommend double-checking on the “running with the bulls” idea!
  • Claims from activities that took place while the insured was breaking the law.

Many policies cover trip cancellation under limited circumstances, such as serious illness or death. However, insurance companies typically exclude reasons that aren’t specifically listed. If you want more flexibility to cancel your trip, consider buying “cancel for any reason” coverage.

Clarify pre-existing conditions

Travel insurance applications typically ask if you have any pre-existing conditions. If you have any previous issues, be sure to list them honestly. If you lie on the application forms, the travel insurance company may be able to cancel your policy without issuing a refund.

If your condition is “stable,” which typically means you haven’t had any issues for 90 days or more, most travel insurance companies will cover you. Make sure to carefully read the definition of “stable” to determine whether you fit within the requirements.

If your condition isn’t “stable,” you may have to do a bit of extra work to find a company that will insure you. If you have any questions about pre-existing conditions coverage, call your insurance company to clarify.

Keep records of your travels

If you end up filing a claim after a hospital visit, flight delay, or trip cancellation, you’ll need to produce records as proof. Always be sure to keep any documents that might be relevant to a travel insurance claim. You don’t want your insurance company to deny your claim just because you accidentally threw away the necessary paperwork.

Where to buy travel insurance

You can purchase travel insurance in a variety of ways, such as contacting a travel agent, buying through your credit card company, or consulting your employer’s insurance provider. To get the best rates, compare travel insurance policies for yourself. By using websites like, you can find the right coverage for you.

About the author

Hugo O'Doherty profile picture

Hugo O'Doherty

Canadian Immigration & Integration Specialist
Hugo O’Doherty has over a decade of experience and research in Canadian immigration, establishing him as a recognized authority on immigrant integration and adaptation. His personal and professional experiences with immigration have made him an expert on the practical aspects of successfully moving to and settling in Canada.
Read more about Hugo O'Doherty
Citation "Canadian travel insurance guide for newcomers travelling outside Canada." Moving2Canada. . Copy for Citation