# Thursday, January 21, 2016
travel insurance health plans

Introduction

When Canadians think about health insurance coverage one thing that usually does not come to mind is travel insurance.

Yet the fact is that almost all employee benefits plans as well as many individual health insurance plans do offer some sort of travel benefits.

So sit back, relax, and let’s dive into this topic in detail!

What is Travel Insurance?

Travel insurance plans offer travelers protection against unexpected medical emergencies. This forms the core coverage, often referred to as "emergency medical".

In addition to emergency medical there are optional coverages such as trip cancellation, trip interruption, baggage loss, baggage delay and flight accident.

There are also single-trip plans (good for one trip) as well as multi-trip plans (also referred to as annual plans) that provide coverage for an unlimited number of trips per year.

Types of Canadian Health Insurance

There are two main types of private Canadian health insurance: employee benefits and individual health insurance.

Employee benefits (also referred to as group insurance) are always offered through an employer.

Typically the company will pay anywhere from 50% to 100% of the premiums.

Individual health insurance (also referred to as personal, or family, health insurance) are on an individual, couple, single parent or family basis.

Some personal health insurance plans are underwritten (e.g. require medical questions). An application for an underwritten plan is either approved, declined or has a counter offer.

Other individual health insurance plans are guaranteed issue with no medical questions asked. The price is roughly the same as underwritten plans but there is less coverage.

Note that we are talking about private health insurance which entails dental, prescription drug and vision care coverage. We are not talking about provincial healthcare plans (e.g. AHCIP, OHIP, etc.) that all Canadian residents receive.

Travel Insurance via Employee Benefits Plans

Almost all group insurance plans offer travel insurance benefits.

Typically the coverage duration is 60 days, although benefit periods of 30 days and 90 days do exist.

Most employee benefit plans offer travel insurance with no layover requirements. By this we mean that an insured person can travel for awhile, come back to Canada for any amount of time (e.g. a few hours), and then start traveling again with the coverage duration being reset. For example, let’s say you have 60 days of travel insurance protection from your benefits plan. You can travel abroad for 60 days, come back to Canada for a few hours, and then travel abroad again for another 60 days with full travel medical benefits.

Note that group insurance only offers emergency medical benefits. We do not know of any group insurance plan that offers optional travel insurance coverage like trip cancellation or baggage loss (these optional benefits can be purchased as stand-alone coverages).

Travel Insurance via Individual Health Insurance Plans

Most medically underwritten personal health insurance plans offer travel insurance coverage. Some plans offer travel benefits as part of their core coverage, while other plans offer travel insurance as an optional benefit.

Guaranteed issue health insurance plans, on the other hand, usually do not include travel benefits as part of their coverage.

Refer to the comparison table for individual health insurance plans we offer and their levels of travel medical insurance coverage:
Plan / Carrier Core Travel Benefits Optional Travel Benefits
Flexcare
(Manulife)
  • $5 million of coverage per person per trip
  • Trip duration of 9 days
  • 9 month pre-existing condition clause
8 days or 21 days of additional coverage available as add-ons
Blue Vision Global
(Ontario Blue Cross)
  • Travel benefits only available with Enhanced health benefits
  • $5 million of coverage per person
  • Trip duration of 15 days
No optional coverage
Personal Health Insurance
(Sun Life Financial)
  • Travel benefits available for Standard and Enhanced plans only
  • $1 million lifetime maximum per person
  • Trip duration of 60 days
  • 9 month pre-existing condition clause
No optional coverage
Sonata
(Great West Life)
No travel coverage available with core benefits.
  • Maximum of $1 million per trip
  • Pre-existing condition clause applies
  • 30 day multi-trip rider if 64 or younger
  • 15 day multi-trip rider if 65-75 years old

Please note that Manulife’s ComboPlus Starter and DentalPlus plans are guaranteed issue health insurance that does offer travel insurance benefits. These plans are ideal for people who cross the Canadian/USA border on a daily basis (e.g. truck drivers, cross border shoppers and Canadians who regularly visit relatives south of the border).

Conclusion

We hope you have found this article about travel benefits via Canadian health insurance plans helpful.

If you have any questions please call us toll-free at 1-800-474-4474. You are also welcome to leave us a comment below, we value your feedback!