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Travel Insurance: an essential item for smart travellers


Whether you are travelling for a few days or a few weeks, there’s no denying the fact that travel insurance is a critical item when planning your trip.

Understanding the type of coverage and what it offers is very important; trip cancellation and interruption, lost luggage, or medical insurance are some of the most common options available.

If you frequently travel out of province or country there are multi-trip policies available. Many of these policies have a 30 day clause, which means you can go in and out of country as many times as you wish but for no more than 30 days at a time. If you are planning a world cruise, you will need to make sure the policy will cover an extended absence.

I have been purchasing the same multi-trip travel policy for the last the five years and this year when I went to renew, my rate had tripled because asthma was now considered a pre-existing condition which had not been previously. However, a little leg work provided a policy that did cover asthma and while the cost was higher than the original policy, it was not even double the original rate.   Be prepared to shop around.

Reasons to buy travel insurance:

  • Your flight has been cancelled
  • Your bags are lost and your medications are in them and you now need to have an a prescription filled
  • You’re involved in an accident or become ill and adequate medical treatment is not available and you need medical evacuation assistance
  • You need to cancel your trip due to illness or family emergency
  • Your cruise line, airline or travel supplier goes bankrupt and you require your non-refundable expenses covered in order to get to your destination
  • You have a medical emergency in a foreign country
  • Weather forces you to evacuate your resort, hotel or cruise and terminates your holiday unexpectedly

Types of Travel Insurance:

  • Flight insurance
  • Trip Cancellation and Interruption insurance
  • Health Care insurance
  • Baggage insurance
  • Credit card coverage for a lost or stolen card
  • Identity theft
  • Specialty insurance: Golf or Adventure Travel (Please read the policy carefully if you are planning to do any extreme sports as many policies list sports they do not cover)

Many travel providers such as tour operators (Wells Gray Tours), travel agents, insurance companies or BCAA sell travel insurance. In addition credit cards may also include travel insurance.

Credit Card travel benefits:

It is recommended that you check with your credit card company on their coverage prior to booking as it may have changed since you initially signed up for the card. It is also necessary to query if the credit card company will only cover a trip if the entire trip is booked on the card.

  • Many credit cards have a limit on trip cancellation that may be considerably lower than the trip cost. For example, my credit card only covers trip cancellation for a total of $3,000 per trip. If I book my husband and I on a trip that is $4,000 per person and we had to cancel $5,000 would not be covered. However, it is possible to buy a separate policy for the difference through a travel insurance provider.
  • Find out if your credit card covers travel medical emergency and what that coverage is. Depending on your card you might not be covered for pre-existing conditions or even be covered at all if you’ve been admitted to a hospital or had a change in your health in the past 6 months. Investigating what your credit card covers prior to travel is just a phone away and can make life so much easier if you do have a claim.

Be safe, not sorry! If you don’t buy travel insurance, or the right kind of coverage, not only could your trip be ruined, but any future trips could be impacted by the unexpected expenses occurred.

Written by: Joan Niemeier