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Travel Insurance – Part 1: What Travel Insurance Do I Need?

“What travel insurance do I need”? is a common question from travellers as COVID 19 may increase the likelihood that travel is cancelled or changed.

Many travellers may be covered by employee or credit card policies but it is important to carefully review what is included. These policies often exclude the comprehensive travel insurance coverage needed to be fully protected against unforeseen events.  

Prior to purchasing insurance, check the Canadian government travel advisories in effect for the destination as they may affect travel insurance coverage.  Check here for the most up-to-date travel advisories.

When reviewing insurance options, consider whether the plan:

  • Covers all key risks (see below)
  • Indicates an upper age limit
  • Specifies a maximum number of days of travel
  • Has a “family plan” option (if applicable)
  • Must be purchased immediately after booking travel (often the case for Cancel For Any Reason to apply)

In order to cover the key risks, the following types of travel insurance coverage are recommended:

Emergency Medical Insurance

  • Emergency Medical Insurance covers urgent medical conditions which occur after departure. Check the total coverage amount i.e., $1MM, $5MM etc., to ensure sufficient coverage.
  • Coverage does not normally apply to pre-existing conditions. In some cases, a stability period will be required prior to departure.
  • A Medical Questionnaire may be required for some plans, in particular for those over 60 years old
  • For pre-existing medical conditions, the only option may be a Medical Underwriting Plan.

Trip Cancellation Insurance

  • Trip Cancellation Insurance allows you to cancel your trip prior to departure and covers a specified amount of prepaid, non-refundable expenses.
  • The reason for the cancellation must unforeseen and specified as a covered event in the policy. Note: COVID-19 is often considered a known event and may not be an acceptable reason for cancellation.
  • The most comprehensive travel insurance policies include Cancel For Any Reason (“CFAR”) coverage. As the name implies, it allows you to cancel for any reason and a specified percentage of prepaid non-refundable expenses will be covered (this is particularly beneficial if COVID-19 is a concern).

Trip Interruption

  • Trip Interruption Insurance coverage starts after departure and covers early return, delayed return, and missed connections.
  • It covers expenses for unused travel if you need to end your trip early and/or travel to the destination and coverage for additional meal and accommodation expenses up to a maximum daily limit.

Baggage Loss/Damage/Delay Insurance

  • Covers lost, damaged or delayed baggage with certain restrictions. Due to current airline staffing shortages, there is an increased risk of baggage being delayed or lost therefore, it is important to be covered.

Other Travel Insurance Coverage

  • Other recommended coverage includes flight/accident insurance, act of terrorism coverage, supplier default protection and car rental insurance.

COVID-19 Insurance

  • There are policies that can be purchased that specifically cover unforeseen events due to COVID-19. These primarily include emergency medical expenses and trip interruption or delay (if, for example, you are required to quarantine in the destination), but generally excludes trip cancellation coverage.

If you are a resident of Canada and have any questions or would like to purchase travel insurance, please contact us at [email protected].  Note: Movement Travel is only licensed to sell travel insurance to Ontario residents but can refer you to a licensed agent if you reside in another province or territory in Canada. 

Lisa Gordon

Co-founder, Movement Travel