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Travelling Within Canada This Summer? Here’s Why You Need Domestic Travel Insurance

June 8, 2021
5 mins
A young couple walk down the street on their vacation

Slowly but surely, Canada is emerging from the COVID-19 crisis.

It’s premature to take a victory lap, but with an estimated 58% of the adult population having had at least one vaccination shot as of May 31, it’s reasonable to assume we may be able to enjoy what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calls a ‘one-dose summer’. In other words, the possibility to get out of the house to socialize while taking precautions, and possibly, to travel domestically. It’s a tantalizing thought.

According to the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada, 80% of Canadians hope to travel in 2021, and 58% say they are planning to travel domestically. Given how vast and varied our country is, vacationing in another province other than your own can be an immensely delightful experience. And if you are mapping out plans to leave your home province to visit another part of the country, a vital item to add to your itinerary is domestic travel insurance.

Why should a Canadian travelling within Canada need to purchase a travel insurance policy? Canada has a universal health care system, right? It’s true our publicly funded health care system at its core provides universal coverage for medically necessary health care services provided on the basis of need, rather than the ability to pay. But there are limits to it, and it is the provincial and territorial governments that manage their respective health care systems, not the federal government.

The fact is, there are gaps in the provincial and territorial health care plans that may leave you considerably out-of-pocket under certain conditions. Your provincial health insurance program may not pay for medical expenses you can incur if you need hospitalization or emergency care outside of your home province. The cost of travel insurance amounts to a small fraction of overall trip costs that should be factored into your budget.

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What does a domestic travel insurance policy include?

A domestic travel insurance policy will provide you with different levels of coverage. There’s trip cancellation or interruption coverage, baggage protection, as well as the all-important emergency medical coverage. There is also all-inclusive travel insurance that bundles the most common travel policies to provide you with comprehensive coverage.

In terms of how much coverage or the types of coverage to choose for a travel insurance policy, it depends on what one's personal needs are.

With respect to COVID-19 protection, it's important to note that a standard travel insurance policy will not cover you if you cancel your travel plans because of fear of a pandemic or epidemic. A policy that includes coverage for COVID-19 is only good when there’s a federal travel advisory in effect for your destination. Therefore, as advisories lift, regular emergency medical coverage comes into play again.

Consumers can purchase coverage called “cancel for any reason” as part of an overall policy, and as the name suggests, you will be reimbursed for any reason. That coverage may be a little more expensive, but if you think there is a chance you may cancel your trip, it’s good to include it in your policy.

Purchasing a standard domestic travel insurance can provide you with different types of coverage, including:

  • Emergency medical coverage. Without a doubt, emergency medical travel insurance is a must-have any time you leave your home province. If you are injured in an accident while on vacation or fall ill, emergency medical coverage ensures you do not have to worry about the costs of prescription drugs, ambulance services, hospitalization, or shouldering the costs of returning home ahead of schedule if need be.
  • Baggage protection. What would you do if while travelling from Vancouver to Halifax or from Toronto to Montreal your baggage gets lost or stolen? That’s when baggage protection would save the day by providing you with funds to replace your clothing, toiletries, and luggage.
  • Trip cancellation or interruption protection. Imagine that you've reserved expensive hotel rooms and other services for your vacation within Canada, and you are forced at the last minute to cancel or abandon your trip. You could be out a great deal of money. Trip cancellation or interruption coverage safeguards you from such a circumstance and helps recoup your expenses.

Will domestic travel insurance cover you for COVID-19?

Some travel insurers do offer varying types of policies for travellers if they fall ill with COVID-19 while away from home.

Though coverage types and amounts vary by insurance provider, the COVID-19 protections that may be offered as part of or as an add-on to emergency medical travel insurance may include:

  • Coverage for emergency medical costs, including intensive care, medical tests and medications, for up to $1 million per insured.
  • Quarantine-related costs, including meals and accommodation, for up to of $2,100 per insured.
  • Ambulance transportation costs.
  • Air evacuation from destination to your home province. That includes a one-way economy ticket for the insured and may also include passage for dependents and travelling companions.
  • In the event of death, repatriation costs for up to $5,000 per insured.

Check provincial and territorial restrictions before leaving home

Interprovincial travel by car is not permitted currently in some parts of the country but catching a flight from one end of the country to the other is allowable. That, however, poses a risk. For instance, the federal government says between May 12 and 26, 79 domestic flights may have had exposure to COVID-19.

Regardless of whether you intend to fly or drive to your destination, it’s advisable to check to see if the province or territory you’re visiting has any non-essential travel restrictions in place before you go:

A mid-to-late summer vacation to another province is possible once provincial travel restrictions lift. If you’re among those Canadians who do intend to travel interprovincially this year, take the necessary health precautions recommended by public health officials, and get a travel insurance policy to protect yourself before you head out.

Liam Lahey

Liam Lahey is a versatile, seasoned writer and editor. He worked as both a staff writer and freelance writer for many business and technology publications as well as for several newspapers. He writes about home, auto, and travel insurance, and is a media spokesperson for RATESDOTCA.

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