Best Travel Insurance for Canadians

Some Travel Insurance might be a good idea. Photo: Joe Thomissen

Sometimes Travel Insurance might be a good idea. Photo: Joe Thomissen

You like to travel, right? But, what if you are involved in an accident or serious illness, who will pay the bills? It might be a good idea to get some travel insurance.

Since we’ll be leaving on an extended trip soon, I’ve been busy doing some research on insurance companies, which I’m sharing so that it can hopefully save you some of the time I already wasted on it. My criteria for a good travel insurance policy, besides being cheap,  is: 1. it covers outdoor recreation, specifically hiking, cycling, climbing, scuba diving, white water rafting, etc. 2. it has adequate medical coverage, and covers accidents, illness and evacuation. 3. would cover us for a few months at a time. Also, I prefer a policy that can be extended while overseas. In order to keep insurance costs down, we don’t get baggage or trip interruption coverage, since these are losses we can afford.

Typically, these policies require you to have a valid BC health plan (BC MSP) and will not cover you in areas where there is a travel warning (except for IMG, which is considerably more expensive). For comparison, I include the quotes we got for two Canadian residents of age 32 on a five month trip, and the approximate cost per person per day. In some cases one can buy a cheaper policy with a deductible (typically $250-300), and the policy would also typically be more expensive if it includes travel to the US, and cheaper if you are younger. A key finding was that many so called insurance providers (such as BCAA) actually outsource their insurance policies, and you can contact those companies directly to (usually) get a better deal.

This is not a comprehensive list and is meant as a starting point only: read your policy carefully before buying, prices might change, and your results might vary. Have a great trip!

1. Travel Underwriters (since re-branded as TuGo). My choice for our trip – almost the cheapest and good coverage with a $5M policy. Cost for two for 152 days: $391.56, or $1.29 per person per day (with $0 deductible).
2. Bon Voyage (from Travel Cuts). Their budget option is the cheapest by a small margin, but has a smaller coverage at $1M. Cost for two for 152 days: $382, or $1.26 per person per day. Interestingly this policy appears to be provided by RBC Insurance which doesn’t offer a better deal.
3. BCAA. Use Travel Underwriters as their insurance provider, but have a slightly higher coverage at $10M (overkill, we feel). 5% discount online. Cost for two for 152 days: $513.92 (with $0 deductible) or $424.54 (with $250 deductible), so $1.41-$1.69 per person per day.
4. TIC. Need to get a quote through an insurance agent such as Westland Insurance. $491 or $1.62 per person per day for a $5M policy.
5. The Co-Operators. Use TIC as their insurance provider, MEC members get a 15% discount. $534 or $1.77 per person per day, $5M policy.
6. World Escapade, $541 or $1.79 per person per day (includes US travel).
7. World Nomads $704 or $2.33 per person per day, $5M coverage.
8. IMG – expensive, but the only option I found that covers traveling to a country or region with a travel warning, in which case their coverage holds fully, except for political evacuation and claims due to terrorism acts. $1145/$1007/$916 for $0/$100/$250 deductible, giving $3.79/$3.33/$3.03 per person per day, for a $1M policy.

If you have any relevant information, please post a comment!

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8 Responses to Best Travel Insurance for Canadians

  1. Clemens says:

    Hey, thanks for all the work and for putting this up. I don’t need this info right now, but I feel like I might some day 🙂

  2. Michelle says:

    Any idea who would insure a family travelling without any homeland cover?

  3. Shane says:

    Great post – just what I need for my upcoming trip to Mexico!

  4. Marcin says:

    Good info, thanks for posting it up! Michelle, I believe the Co-operators offers something like that, though I may be confusing it with in-Canada only coverage.

  5. Gili says:

    Thanks! Regarding travel without coverage in one’s home country – I don’t know. I sent an email to IMG to ask them about it, but they haven’t gotten back to me yet. My hunch is that it would be significantly more expensive, but we must remember to factor in the cost of health coverage in the home country.

  6. Gili says:

    Michelle, IMG just got back to me, and yes, they will indeed insure you:
    “the coverage will insure you in multiple countries outside your home country even if you do not have domestic (home) coverage. “

  7. Mat says:

    CIBC also offers coverage which applies in countries for which FAC has an advisory against travel (unless, as for IMG, it is a result of an act of war/terrorism/etc).

    And as Marcin said, Co-operators (and TIC) do offer coverage for Canadians who are not (or no longer) covered under their provincial health insurance program…

  8. Gili says:

    For a recent short trip to the US (8 days) I found that the Co-operators were cheaper than the Travel Underwriters ($16 compared with $20) which cost $2/day (with the 15% discount for MEC members), but I didn’t have time to check any other companies. There are also multi-trip insurance options, if you take many short trips over a year.

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