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Insurance considerations when travelling with friends

May 22, 2023
5 mins
mature ladies lounging by the pool, wearing cool sunglasses having a ball

Travelling with friends is one of life’s greatest treasures. Life can get busy, and if a rare opportunity arises for a group trip, it’s best to seize it.

However, the last thing you want is to ruin your getaway with an unexpected, costly medical expense or a cancelled trip with no pay-out, leaving you with the wrong kind of lasting memories.

Whether you’re about to set out on a bachelor or bachelorette weekend, a girls’ trip, or a relaxed cottage reunion with your oldest pals, you should give some thought to the travel coverage you already have or may need to purchase before leaving town.

Travel credit card coverage versus comprehensive travel insurance

Before looking up travel insurance providers, it’s worth checking whether your credit card offers travel insurance. Many travel rewards cards have built-in travel insurance perks, like trip cancellation or interruption coverage, accident insurance, lost or stolen baggage and more.

However, your trip must be purchased with the credit card for the coverage to apply. Just because one person may be covered for certain perils under their card, doesn’t mean you are too. Coverage usually only extends to a spouse, dependent child, or secondary cardholder.

Some travel credit cards also have more coverage than others. If your friend is covered for trip interruption through their credit card, it doesn't mean you’ll also have the same coverage on your card, or the same coverage limit.

Opting for a comprehensive travel insurance policy gives you the chance to cover any gaps you need to fill.

So, whether you’re starting from scratch or simply supplementing your credit card, a broker can help you compare the most affordable travel insurance rates for the coverage you need.

Amount and type of travel coverage

When travelling as a group, each traveller is likely starting with a different base level of coverage, possibly through their credit card or employee benefits. And each traveller may be willing to take on more risk than the next. If you’re concerned about accidents, illness, theft, or sudden flight cancellations, it’s worth taking the time to map out your own coverage preferences before departing. Coverages fall under two main categories and can include:

Emergency medical:

  • Hospital visits
  • Doctor visits
  • Prescription drugs for sudden minor or major ailments
  • Ambulance services
  • Emergency evacuation

Trip protection:

  • Trip cancellation – reimbursement for certain expenses if trip is cancelled for a covered reason.
  • Trip interruption – reimbursement for certain expenses if you need to return home for a covered reason.
  • Flight delay – reimbursement for expenses resulting from the delay.
  • Lost or stolen luggage – reimbursement for covered items in baggage or necessary expenses accrued as a result.
  • Rental car coverage – insurance for damage or theft, excluding third party liability.
  • Burglary – reimbursement for personal belongings that are stolen during your stay.
  • Mobile device insurance – covers the cost of your phone if it’s damaged, lost, or stolen.

Health risks and travel insurance

Everyone has a different medical history that will inform their insurance rate.

For example, if you have a pre-existing health condition, like lupus or heart disease, you may be able to purchase an additional benefit or waiver to cover your condition if you’re stable for at least a week prior to the trip. However, doing so will make for a higher premium than your friend without a pre-existing condition.

Your age also weighs in your level of risk. For example, when you compare the National Bank® World Elite Mastercard® and the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®, the former provides 60 days of emergency medical coverage, but only 15 days if you’re over 65. That is, travel insurance can become more expensive as you age. While this may not be a concern for younger travellers, it’s still worth understanding how risk is determined.

Trip length and excursions impact travel premium

Your travel insurance rate will be partially based on how many days you’re gone for.

Say you’re meeting friends at your destination. You’ll each have different trip lengths and will require different coverage. If one friend is staying for a full year for work, for example, they’ll likely need more long-term international medical insurance that will act as a day-to-day policy like they have back home, which will have a different price point.

Keep in mind, if some of you are engaging in extreme sports like off-trail skiing or skydiving while abroad, a typical travel insurance policy will exclude coverage if you become injured. So, while some may be fine with standard coverage, others planning more risky activities can purchase additional coverage. If not, your travel claim can be denied in the event of a health emergency.

Often, providers offer a group discount if you have enough people in your party travelling together, but it’s crucial to make sure each person understands their risk level and coverage requirements separately before taking off.

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Michelle Bates

Editor and Writer

Michelle Bates is an editor and writer in the personal finance space. She has seven years of content writing experience.

She has a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree from Queen's University in English Literature and Sociology along with a Publishing - Book, Magazine and Electronic graduate certificate from Centennial College. Michelle specializes in personal finance content, including mortgages, home, auto, and travel insurance, and credit cards. Her work has been covered by notable Canadian news sources like the Financial Post, the Globe and Mail, CTV News, and Narcity.

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