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Trip protection vs. travel insurance: what’s the difference?

April 1, 2022
3 mins
A young man and woman stand on a pier with their bikes

Most people think about travel insurance when booking their vacations. After all, it’s good to have security in case of the unexpected, right? That’s why “trip protection” or similar add-ons can seem like a good deal. Why wouldn’t you pay a little extra if that small investment gets you money back in case of cancellation?

But it isn’t that simple. Indeed, that add-on offered by an online booking site can be an excellent option for some travellers. But it can fall short of providing you with complete security against potential mishaps. Here’s a primer on what different policies offer and where you can buy the right coverage.

Trip protection

In some cases, trip protection isn’t even really insurance. It’s a promise on behalf of the booking site if you have to cancel your reservation. But there are many potential exclusions.

You may only get credit for costs you’ve paid for upfront, and you may only get a portion of those expenses back. Some companies won’t even refund your money — they will give you credit for future travel.

Trip cancellation insurance

This type of policy offers much more security than “trip protection.” It is usually purchased separately from your accommodation and flight. You can claim for flight, hotel and travel expenses when you must cancel your trip before leaving. You can get coverage for a host of cancellation reasons, from illness or job loss to visa denial or government travel advisories.

Typically, trip cancellation insurance covers your trip’s non-refundable expenses. Often this is available for up to 48 hours before you depart.

Trip interruption insurance

Trip interruption insurance is usually included as part of trip cancellation insurance. Your interruption benefits protect you if you need to end your trip early.

Imagine when this might happen: an illness, travel advisory, or another event that forces you to pack up and leave before your scheduled departure. You can claim other things under trip interruption, such as flight delays and lost baggage. The specific details of when you can claim for trip interruption depend on your policy.

Travel medical insurance

If you are travelling outside of Canada, emergency medical travel insurance may be necessary to cover unexpected costs if you get sick or injured and need assistance. Coverage may include emergency care, hospitalization, prescriptions, and even costs to return home. This coverage kicks in alongside any reimbursements that you may get through your provincial health insurance plan.

Some travellers might believe their credit card or workplace extended health insurance has sufficient medical coverage for trips abroad. But it’s a good idea to check the details. Travel medical insurance can help fill the financial gaps.

Travel insurance

A comprehensive policy is often called “travel insurance,” an all-encompassing term. It includes protection for your trip expenses, as well as medical coverage. This type of insurance gives you peace of mind and may include life insurance and other benefits.

Premium policies may also let you claim for several losses, such as pet boarding fees if you are delayed getting home or require personal assistance finding medical treatment at your destination.

Where can you buy travel insurance in Canada?

Before deciding on the exact type of insurance, there are a few things you’ll want to consider. First, review your existing coverage, including any travel insurance from your credit card company or workplace.

Finally, compare travel insurance rates to see what you could get if you purchased a policy separately.

In any case, it’s essential to know what you’re buying, including the coverage terms and claim limits. The exact conditions may vary, so remember to read the fine print before purchasing any policy.

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The RATESDOTCA editorial team are experienced writers focused on sharing stories and bringing you the latest news in insurance and personal finance. Our goal is to provide Canadians with the information and resources they need to make better insurance and financial decisions.

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