Do I Need Travel Insurance When Travelling Within Canada? (2024)

Maybe you’ve heard the horror stories of people who have travelled to far-flung destinations, gotten sick or injured and been saddled with hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills. As a savvy traveller, you know it’s essential to have comprehensive travel insurance when going abroad, but what about a trip within Canada?

Whether you’re planning a month-long expedition across the country, a ski trip in Quebec or a leisurely tour of the east coast, if you think that your provincial health insurance will cover all your medical expenses while you’re in another province, think again.

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The Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) recommends that Canadians should always protect themselves by purchasing medical insurance even when travelling within Canada. That’s because not all medical expenses are covered by your provincial or territorial government health insurance plan once you leave your home province or territory. Here’s what you need to know.

How Does Health Insurance Work in Canada?

Canada has a universal health care system that provides public health insurance to any Canadian citizen or permanent resident. This is known as the Government Health Insurance Plan, or GHIP. Each province and territory has its own health plan; for example, in Ontario it’s called the Ontario Health Insurance Plan, or OHIP, and in B.C. it’s called the Medical Services Plan, or MSP.

In general, with public health insurance, you won’t have to pay for most health care services, including family doctor’s visits, lab tests, diagnostics including X-rays, and emergency medical and hospital services.

There are differences between provincial and territorial plans, so it’s important to know what your plan covers. For example, Manitoba Health covers up to seven chiropractor visits per year, while Ontario does not offer chiropractic coverage.

Here is list of provincial and territorial public health care plans:

What Is Not Covered by My GHIP?

While Canada’s public health insurance plan is comprehensive, it doesn’t cover everything. While the particulars differ between provinces, the following are examples of services generally not covered by public health insurance:

  • Cosmetic treatments and surgery
  • Certain prescription drugs and vaccines
  • Over-the-counter drugs
  • Medical appliances
  • Private nursing
  • Additional charges for a private hospital room
  • Services provided by paramedical health providers, such as chiropodists, physiotherapists, psychologists, dieticians, etc., outside of a hospital
  • Some medical supplies, such as syringes
  • Routine dental care, extractions and procedures

However, your province may offer publicly-funded drug plans for students, youth and/or seniors. Your employer may offer employment-related health insurance or you can purchase your own private health insurance plan to cover any coverage gaps.

What Is Not Covered When Travelling Within Canada?

Emergency medical insurance is a must-have for any out-of-province travel, even if you’re still in Canada.

In general, if you are travelling outside of your home province or territory and you don’t have supplemental travel insurance and you are faced with with a medical emergency, the following costs may not be covered:

  • Treatment provided by a health-care practitioner, such as a physician assistant, nurse practitioner, chiropractor or physical therapist
  • Prescription drugs
  • Medical supplies
  • Ambulance services, by ground or air
  • Dental emergencies

Fees can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars.

Say you’re visiting Toronto from Winnipeg and you take a tumble down a flight of concrete steps. You’re taken by ambulance to the nearest local hospital and it’s discovered you fractured your femur. The ambulance ride alone will cost you. According to the Ontario Ministry of Health, visitors to Ontario who require ambulance services will have their costs fully covered only if:

  • You are a visitor to Ontario from another province, and
  • You are insured under your province’s health care plan, and
  • A physician deems your ambulance service medically necessary, and
  • You are transported between and Ontario hospital and a hospital in another province, or between two Ontario hospitals, and
  • Your trip is for diagnostic or therapeutic services, and
  • You are returned to the hospital of origin within 24 hours.

In all other cases you will have to pay a land ambulance service co-payment charge of $240. And if you need to be transported by air ambulance, you’ll be billed the actual cost. According to figures of Canadian hospital rates from August 2019 provided by Vancouver-based David Cummings Insurance Services, an air ambulance by helicopter in B.C. costs $2,746 per hour.

Most Canadian provinces and territories have reciprocal agreements with each other, except for Quebec, which means that if you are visiting Ontario from Nova Scotia and you need to visit the emergency department, the Ontario physician will bill their own provincial health care plan for insured services. The only exception is Quebec, where you’ll need to pay the health provider up front.

If you are required to pay out of pocket, you can typically submit a medical expense claim to your own GHIP when you return home. Keep in mind there may be a variation in billing rates between provinces and you could be on the hook for any difference.

What Travel Insurance Do I Need For Travelling Within Canada?

Whenever you leave your home province, it’s important to get comprehensive emergency medical insurance in case of an unexpected illness or injury. In general, travel medical insurance pays for unexpected medical expenses during your trip, including:

  • Ambulance services (ground and air)
  • Physicians’ bills
  • Hospital and operating room charges
  • Diagnostics and lab tests
  • Drugs and medication
  • Emergency dental care
  • Repatriation to your home province or territory
  • Cost to bring a companion to your bedside if you’re hospitalized
  • Childcare costs if you’re hospitalized
  • Vehicle return if a hospitalization prevents you from returning your rental car

Where Can I Get Travel Insurance for Travelling Within Canada?

You can purchase travel insurance for travelling within Canada at the same place you’d buy travel insurance for any other trip. You can purchase travel insurance online, through a broker or a travel agent.

Some insurance companies, such as Scotia Travel Insurance, offer cheaper rates for travel within Canada. Others offer a bespoke Canada package. For example, RBC Insurance offers a comprehensive Travel Within Canada Package that offers emergency medical and trip protection for travel within Canada, while TuGo offers an Emergency Medical Within Canada package with $10 million in coverage.

Your travel credit card may also provide sufficient emergency medical coverage for trips within Canada. Before you leave home, check the fine print to ensure you’re properly protected.

How Much Does Travel Insurance for Travelling Within Canada Cost?

The cost of travel medical insurance depends on several factors, such as your age, the duration of your trip, your destination and your health.

Using a sample quote of a 45-year-old healthy woman travelling from Toronto to Vancouver for eight days, here are some examples of the cost of emergency medical travel insurance:

Insurance companyEmergency medical coverage (maximum)Premium cost
Allianz Travel Insurance$10 million$29.84
Ontario Blue Cross$5 million$18.93
CAA-South Central Ontario$5 million$37.51 (member)/$41.68 (non-member)
CIBC$10 million$33.96
Desjardins$5 million$53.91
GMS Travel Insurance$5 million$25.44
Manulife$10 million$15.08
RBC InsuranceUnlimited$40.80
Scotia Travel Insurance$10 million$16.29
TD Insurance$5 million$45.68
Tour + Med$5 million$17.47
Travel GuardUnlimited$23.39
TuGo$10 million$15.00
Co-operators$10 million$18.13
Travelance$10 million$35.00
National Bank$5 million$39.00
This table is meant as an illustration of the range of premium prices as each plan will have its own benefits, some more comprehensive than others, and eligibility requirements.

The Bottom Line

If you’re wondering whether it’s worth spending that extra cash on travel insurance for a trip within Canada, consider it a small investment for extra peace of mind. Not having sufficient emergency medical coverage can ruin your vacation—and your bank balance.

Do I Need Travel Insurance When Travelling Within Canada? (2024)


Do you need travel insurance for traveling within Canada? ›

Not all Medical Expenses are Covered by OHIP

The fact is provincial health insurance plans will only cover some medical expenses. Therefore, you should always protect yourself by purchasing medical insurance when travelling within Canada.

Do you need travel insurance when travelling to Canada? ›

Get comprehensive travel insurance before you leave. Your policy needs to cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. The Australian Government won't pay for these costs.

Can you travel to Canada without insurance? ›

Do I need travel insurance for Canada? Travel insurance is essential if you want health cover in Canada. While the health system there is well-respected, the costs of being treated – even for non-life-threatening conditions – can quickly escalate.

Can I travel to Canada without health insurance? ›

Do visitors to Canada need health insurance? Visitors traveling to Canada and to any country outside of their home country should have visitors health insurance. Most domestic policies will only cover you in your home country and have little to no coverage once you are traveling abroad.

Is it okay to not have travel insurance? ›

When Is Travel Insurance Not Necessary? You generally don't need travel insurance if you're not putting down large non-refundable trip deposits, or if your U.S. health plan will cover you at your destination.

What is the average cost of travel insurance in Canada? ›

The Breakdown: The Average Travel Insurance Cost Based on Coverage Type
Coverage TypeAverage Cost (CAD)
Basic (Trip Cancellation & Interruption)50-100
Comprehensive (Including Medical Expenses)120-250
Medical Only70-150
CFAR (Cancel for Any Reason) Add-onAdditional 40-60% on Base Premium
Mar 7, 2024

Does my car insurance cover travel in Canada? ›

An American car insurance policy works the same way in Canada as it does in the U.S. Your comprehensive car insurance coverage and auto collision coverage, for example, still apply to damage to your vehicle if you're in an accident while driving in Canada.

Which is the best travel insurance in Canada? ›

Top 10 travel insurance Canada plans
  • Blue Cross Travel Insurance Canada: Flexible plans for every need.
  • CAA travel insurance: Best for CAA members.
  • RBC travel insurance: Coverage from a reputed bank.
  • TD travel insurance: High coverage limits.
  • BCAA travel insurance: Budget-friendly options.

Is travel insurance the same as health insurance Canada? ›

While it's not technically health insurance, most travel insurance offers some coverage for medical emergencies. This cannot be used for routine care or any medical treatment related to a pre-existing condition.

Can Americans get free healthcare in Canada? ›

Foreigners will receive emergency care, but non-urgent medical treatment won't be covered. To make sure you won't have to pay for all of your medical expenses, you should sign up for an international health insurance plan.

What happens if an American gets sick in Canada? ›

If during your visit to Canada you get sick or injured, the Canadian government won't pay for any hospitalization or emergency medical services for visitors. Also, if you don't have proper medical insurance coverage, you will be liable to pay for any medical service out of your own pocket.

What happens if you don't have insurance in Canada? ›

You could also get sued if you don't pay. Police will likely charge you with driving without car insurance. You could face a hefty fine, license suspension, vehicle impoundment and even jail time, depending on your province. Once you buy car insurance, you will probably pay much higher rates for coverage.

Can I use US insurance in Canada? ›

Read on to find out everything you need to know to make sure you're covered when you drive to Canada. Canada and the U.S. have reciprocal laws for auto insurance, which means a U.S. insurance policy will cover you in Canada.

Is travel insurance necessary for domestic flights? ›

Do you need travel insurance for domestic trips? You don't necessarily need to purchase a travel insurance plan for a trip within the U.S., especially if your health insurance plan already offers out-of-state or out-of-network coverage.

Do you need travel insurance for local flights? ›

Is It Worth It To Purchase Travel Insurance For a Domestic Trip? Purchasing travel insurance for your domestic vacation can ensure you have coverage in case of unforeseen events, like travel delays, canceled flights or lost baggage.

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