Industry News > Canadians have a poor understanding of travel health coverage

Canadians have a poor understanding of travel health coverage

posted on 5:55 AM, November 1, 2013
Survey shows vacations aren’t always carefree: 21 per cent of Canadian travelers have required medical attention while away

Tuesday, October 22, 2013 – The Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada (THiA) conducted a national survey1 of Canadians about their travel habits and their understanding of provincial health coverage. The survey revealed that 35 per cent of Canadian travellers do not buy travel health insurance.

“Only six per cent of Canadians realize that provincial health plans cover approximately nine per cent of medical expenses when travelling outside of Canada,” said THiA President, John Thain. “Travel health insurance is designed to protect against unforeseen medical expenses.” 

Of respondents:

  • Twenty-one per cent indicated that they have received medical treatment while travelling
  • The most common reasons for seeking medical care include gastrointestinal issues (21.8 per cent), infection (16.2 per cent) and fractures (10.7 per cent)
  • Sixty per cent of those who received medical attention while away had extended medical insurance to pay for the associated expenses
  • Most (59.3 per  cent) would pay whatever necessary for medical treatment
  • Associated medical expenses of more than $1,000 would represent a financial crisis for 33.6 per cent of respondents and 32 per cent indicated that unforeseen medical expenses of $5,000 or more would represent a financial crisis
  • Only 28.5 per cent correctly identified the average cost of treating a fracture in the US ($10,000) 

Other interesting survey findings include:

  • Thirty per cent of Canadians plan to travel this winter
  • Thirty-one per cent consider themselves risk takers
  • Thirty per cent report binge drinking on vacation
  • Ninety-four  per  cent of travelers pack underwear

“Travel health insurance should be as essential to a vacation as underwear,” said Thain. “Many people will already have some coverage through employers or credit cards and it’s important to understand existing coverage and ensure you have the necessary supplemental coverage.”

THiA recommends that Canadians do the following to have carefree vacations:

  • Know your health and consult a health care provider if you have any questions
  • Know your trip - How long will you be gone? Are you a snowbird? Will you be travelling many times during the year? Do you plan to scuba dive?
  • Understand your travel insurance policy – Insurance companies have staff available to answer any questions related to policies

The THiA website has a guide available to help Canadians understand their travel insurance needs before they investigate policies.

[1] National online survey of 1025 Canadians, conducted October 1 -2, 2013.


About the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada (THiA)

Founded in 1998, the Travel Health Insurance Association (THiA)is the national organization representing travel insurers, brokers, underwriters, re-insurers, emergency assistance companies, air ambulance companies and allied services in the travel insurance field. THiA is the leading voice of the travel insurance industry in Canada and is engaged in public education and issues relating to regulatory affairs and member communications.


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For more information or to speak to a THiA spokesperson, please contact:

Tonique Bedeau

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