March Break is here, giving most people the first real opportunity this year to get away for more than the weekend. But before you load up your suitcases or the back of your trunk, take a load off by buying travel insurance.

You’ve probably heard about the “importance” of travel insurance before. Maybe you’re even skeptical about its merit. But according to TD Insurance, 49% of Canadians planning to travel during March Break are still stressed about potentially falling ill while abroad.

Travel insurance can put your mind to rest so you can focus on enjoying your vacation. Better yet, within a minute, RATESDOTCA can provide you with travel insurance quotes for as low as $15 to cover your entire trip. But still, the TD study found that only 39% of survey respondents reported purchasing the appropriate travel insurance to relief their stress.

For the remaining 61%, not having travel insurance in place can be a huge (not to mention costly) mistake as medical treatment outside of Canada can be incredibly expensive.

To be clear, our Canadian health care plans do not apply when we’re outside of Canada so it’s imperative to buy additional travel coverage.

The Types of Travel Insurance

Travel insurance comes with numerous benefits, and can cover a variety of things:

Travel medical: This is pretty straight forward as it’ll cover you in the event of an unexpected illness or injury while travelling that requires immediate medical attention. The main things you’re covered for include (but aren’t limited to) doctor’s services, ambulance services, x-rays, tests, and prescription drugs.

Trip cancellation and interruption: Trip cancellation insurance will reimburse you in the event you need to cancel your trip before departing, or make changes to your travel itinerary during your trip due to an eligible reason. Health, a death in the family, job loss, natural disasters, denied visa, and pregnancy complications are a few of the reasons why you would qualify.

Baggage insurance: When you purchase baggage insurance you’re protected in a few different ways. If your bags are delayed for a certain amount of time, you’re eligible for reimbursement for personal items. If your bags are lost or damaged, you can make a claim for the value of your possessions. Note that there’s a maximum value you can claim so be careful when travelling with valuables.

Of all the above types of insurance, travel medical is the only one that I would advise as “mandatory” but since the cost of trip cancellation, interruption, and baggage insurance is just a few dollars a day, you might as well purchase it for the peace of mind. 

If you already have insurance…

If you receive health benefits from your employer, check if travel insurance is included. Many companies offer travel medical insurance as a standard benefit, but you’ll want to find out the specific details to make sure. Questions to ask include: what exactly you’re covered for, how much you are covered for (dollar amount), and how long you’ll be insured for while travelling. Look out for any exclusions.

Trip cancellation, interruption, and baggage insurance aren’t normally covered in employee benefit plans, so you will likely need to purchase a separate policy for that on your own.

Travel rewards credit cards are also a great way to get “free” travel insurance. Rewards cards that have an annual fee usually have a very comprehensive travel insurance package that will cover you in just about any situation. In most cases, you’re required to make all of your travel purchases on the credit card to fully qualify for the insurance benefits offered.

Don’t leave home without it

Understand that no two insurance policies are alike, so you’ll need to read the details of each policy to make sure you’re getting the coverage you need. Travelling without travel medical insurance can potentially be a huge mistake; a quick trip to the doctor in a foreign country can easily set you back thousands of dollars. To put it simply, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.

Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a personal finance and budget travel expert at Moneywehave.com. He has been quoted by media in Canada and the United States including The Financial Post, The Toronto Star, Business Insider, The Globe and Mail, and has appeared on HuffPost Live.

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