Travel Insurance for Seniors in Canada

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Written By Joel Kranc

Contributing writer


What is travel insurance for seniors in Canada?

Travel insurance is important for everyone. But as we hit certain milestones in life, having extra security and protection should be top of mind. And as we get older, with more times on our hand, we may seek out the pleasures of travel or escaping Canadian winters.

For example, seniors who travel may have increased health concerns or past injuries that are less of a concern to younger travelers. Travelling outside of Canada can be particularly risky for seniors as healthcare can be very expensive should an emergency arise. Some countries require visitors to provide proof of travel insurance for seniors so that their own home costs for healthcare are not influenced by tourists.

As mentioned, seniors often have a greater risk of needing more health services simply due to their age or stage in life. And like all travellers, seniors face the same risks as anyone including losing personal items, needing to cancel their trip suddenly, or trip interruption.

Travel insurance for seniors allows you the freedom to continue to travel and explore the world, while mitigating certain risks that come with age. In fact, the Government of Canada recommends that travellers purchase insurance in addition to provincial health insurance plans to ensure they are appropriately protected at home and abroad.

Types of travel insurance coverages for seniors in Canada

Travel insurance for seniors comes in many shapes and sizes (much like other insurance plans). Each person has different travel and health needs and will need to assess the plan(s) that work best for them. You should've decided on things like:

Is this a single trip?
Single-trip policies will cover you for one trip only. This kind of insurance has a fixed start date and end date – starting on departure date and ending on return date. For instance, if you leave on March 1 and return on April 1, you would be covered for 32 days end-to-end and the coverage would be for a single trip.

Is this a multi-trip policy?
Many seniors, given the time they have, may embark on a longer trip that has multiple destinations. In those cases, you can get a policy that covers all trips within a year (also known as an annual plan). It may be limited by a certain duration per trip. It’s best to ask your provider about that.

Is this top-up insurance?
This provides extra travel insurance for seniors on top of existing coverage. The circumstances surrounding your personal health and safety needs, and the trip itself, may determine your needs around this type of coverage.

Besides answering those questions. Seniors can look at different types of coverage, which include:

Medical coverage and expenses
This is something nearly all seniors should be considering when taking a trip and can be the costliest if you fail to address it. Things like emergency transportation, hospital costs, prescription drugs, ambulance services and diagnostics may be all included in this coverage. Talk to your provider about how much coverage your trance insurance policy allows you.

Loss of baggage of personal belongings
This is usually covered within your travel insurance, including some medical insurance plans. Even your home insurance policy can include coverage for lost baggage. Talk to your provider about what is available to you within your existing insurance or if you need something extra. It typically covers loss of baggage and/or delayed arrival of your bags.

Travel delay
This can help pay for costs you incur due to delays such as bad weather, aircraft maintenance or emergency situations. Most providers have a per-day or total maximum limit per person, and some don’t kick in until a few hours after the trip has begun.

Trip cancellation or interruption
Since the days of COVID, travel has become exponentially expensive. This insurance is generally recommended for all travellers. Emergency situations happen and if you need to cancel or change plans mid-trip, you’ll want to be reimbursed for what, these days, is a very expensive item. Cancellation and interruption insurance can usually be purchased together, but interruption is also sold as a stand-alone product separate from basic travel medical insurance plans.

Accidental death and dismemberment
This coverage provides money to you or a beneficiary if there is accidental injury that causes loss of limbs, for example, or death while travelling. This, of course, does not include death or illnesses that result from natural causes.

Pre-existing medical conditions
We're all getting older. It’s more likely that as we age and travel into our senior years, there may be pre-existing medical conditions to consider. A pre-existing condition can be things like:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart Conditions
  • MS
  • Parkinson’s

The list is not exhaustive so it’s best to talk to your provider about how it interprets what a pre-existing medical condition may be. It’s important that you are honest with your provider when inquiring about travel insurance for seniors. If you leave information out, you may be at risk of not getting the coverage you need.

Many providers offering medical travel insurance for seniors will have what’s called a stability clause. This requires that your pre-existing condition be stable for a period of time (sometimes 90 days or more) prior to your trip.

Also, seniors with pre-existing medical conditions needing a more personalized travel insurance policy may find the costs higher than a “standard” policy or one for people with no pre-existing conditions. It’s best to compare costs on sites like RATESDOTCA to see who offers the best travel insurance for seniors in Canada.

Differences between travel insurance for seniors, snowbirds and young solo travellers

Let’s break down the differences between travel insurance for seniors, snowbirds, and young solo travelers. Each group has unique needs and considerations when it comes to insurance coverage. Even though there’s not much of a difference between travel insurance for seniors and snowbirds, it is good to understand them individually.

The travel insurance for seniors' insurance coverage is designed for medical emergencies as seniors may require more comprehensive medical coverage due to age-related health conditions. It covers for necessary medications, provides protection against loss or theft of personal belongings, reimbursement if the trip needs to be canceled due to unforeseen circumstances, emergency evacuation assistance in case of medical emergencies requiring evacuation. It also covers stable pre-existing conditions. While provincial health plans may provide some coverage abroad, it’s often limited. Seniors should consider additional travel medical insurance.

Snowbirds travel insurance coverage is similar to seniors, snowbirds need coverage for medical emergencies, prescriptions, lost baggage, trip interruption or cancellation, and stable pre-existing conditions. They generally go away for months at a time, so having full insurance protection is crucial. Snowbirds should ensure comprehensive medical coverage due to their extended stays away from home. Considerations for spouse or travel companion, vehicle return, accommodation, meals, medical evacuation, and transportation costs.

The Young Solo Traveller Insurance plan is for young individuals traveling alone. They typically need less coverage due to their age and lack of pre-existing health conditions. Their trips may be shorter and less complex. While provincial health plans may provide limited coverage, additional travel medical insurance is still advisable. Young solo travellers can choose single-trip coverage or multi-trip coverage based on their travel frequency. They require minimal additional coverages, as they often don’t have companions or family members to consider.

Remember that individual circumstances vary, so it’s essential for travellers to assess their specific needs and choose insurance accordingly.

Factors that impact your quote for travel insurance for seniors

Travel insurance providers, like all insurance providers, are assessing risk. The greater the risk they are taking on related to your insurance, the greater the cost will be. For this reason, providers will look at several factors when considering what impacts your quotes. This may include:

– Obviously if you come to the insurance table with a pre-existing condition, you will face higher travel insurance costs.

Destination – Higher risk parts of the world, with fewer resources and higher crime, for example, would influence the cost of your senior travel insurance. Make sure you read the Government of Canada’s travel advisories before booking any travel.

What you are covered for – The more you get covered, the more your travel insurance will cost. Assess what you have versus what you want before embarking on your trip and insurance needs.

Length of the trip – The length of your stay can affect your cost. The longer you are gone the higher the risk that something could happen to you, your luggage etc.

Cost – An expensive trip will mean a higher cost for your travel insurance. It’s more risk for your provider especially for cancellation and interruption coverage.

Age – With age comes wisdom. But also, health risks that your insurance provider will assess at a higher cost.

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Tips for travelling seniors from Canada

Travel can be great at any age. However, before you pack those bags make sure to follow these tips to make your experience that much more enjoyable.

  1. Check out exclusions in your travel insurance policy: Your travel insurance provider wants to keep risks down, so they may have exclusions within their policies for medical conditions. Even when pre-existing conditions can be covered, not everything is. Make sure to check for specific health conditions that may be excluded from your coverage. Ask your provider ahead of time what you are covered and be honest about your health issues.
  2. Read your insurance policy thoroughly before leaving: With exclusions comes the need to carefully go through your policy and its fine print. Even if you are sure your pre-existing conditions are out in the open and known, there may be other policy limits you are unaware of. Check and double check your policy.
    Global Affairs Canada tells Canadians to strongly consider protection outside of Canada. Our health plans at home will not cover you abroad (for most things) and health costs can be very expensive abroad. Make sure you get the right coverage for your travel needs when traveling outside of Canada and that it covers your specific medical or pre-existing needs.
  3. Check travel documents, validity and visa requirements: Before you leave, make sure you have a valid passport or photo ID. Take a picture of it and leave that with someone not traveling with you, as well.
  4. Vaccination requirements: Talk to your doctor before you leave and have the right medicine and documentation you might need for assistance.
  5. Travel light they say: Don’t carry too much cash or jewelry. Pack light as it may save you from lost baggage...and from back pain.

Frequently asked questions about travel insurance for seniors in Canada

Have more questions about travel insurance for seniors in Canada? We got them answered....

Why do I need travel insurance as a senior in Canada travelling overseas?

It’s probably a good idea for all travellers to think about travel insurance. But seniors are at more risk than most for things like illness or medical needs to arise while travelling. Without insurance, costs can be very high if you pay out of pocket for those emergencies.

And that’s if you’re still relatively healthy. If you have pre-existing medical conditions, it’s even more important to take precautions and pay for travel insurance that can help with costs, should you need them.

How much coverage do I need as a Canadian senior travelling abroad?

It really depends on your personal circumstances. Healthier, active people may not need as much as people with medical conditions. It also depends on the type of trip you are taking and where you are going. It’s best to talk to your travel insurance provider to see what is in your best interest.

Can I get insurance as a travelling elder if I have pre-existing conditions?

You can but it will likely cost you more than travel insurance for other seniors. It’s best if you are honest with your provider and tell them about your pre-existing conditions. Also, most providers will require that your conditions are stable for 90 days if not more before you embark on your trip.

Which insurance company provides the cheapest senior travel insurance in Canada?

That depends on you and your needs. It’s best to compare travel insurance for seniors on sites like RATESDOTCA. Comparing who offers what and what price will allow you to find the best travel insurance that suits your specific needs.

Does travel insurance for seniors cover multiple trips?

It can. Sometimes called annual plans, travel insurance companies will offer protection for muliple trips within a year. Often the duration of coverage is limited for those trips, sometimes for 30 days at a time. Talk to your provider about what they offer and if it covers your multiple trip plans.

What is the highest insurable age group for travel insurance for seniors?

The older you are, the more travel insurance for seniors will cost. So, if you are 90 or older it is possible to still travel. But you will likely have to fill out a medical questionnaire and if you have pre-existing conditions you may have to opt for higher priced plans. Compare rates and providers and see who offers the best coverage for age-appropriate travel insurance plans.

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Joel Kranc ,

Joel Kranc is a freelance writer and content provider who has worked with RATESDOTCA since 2019. He holds an MA in political science from the University of Toronto and a film certificate from New York University.

He has been published in and worked for such companies as CNN, Rogers Media, Institutional Investor Magazine, The Globe and Mail, Infrastructure Investor, BenefitsPRO Magazine, Global Finance Magazine, With Intelligence, the CPP Investment Board, Hospitals of Ontario Pension Plan, and many more financial services and industry publications.

He is the author of "Retirement Planning in 8 Easy Steps," which, when released in 2015, was No. 11 on the Publisher's Weekly US Bestseller List for Business and Finance, beating out Mark Cuban's "How to Win at the Sport of Business."

  • Master's of Political Science, University of Toronto
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