Tips and Updates about Travel Health Insurance > Understanding your medical insurance options for travel outside Canada

Understanding your medical insurance options for travel outside Canada

by Joan Weir, CHLIA, posted on 9:14 AM, November 26, 2020

At this time, the Government of Canada continues to advise against non-essential international travel. This is due to the risk posed by the global COVID-19 pandemic and concerns that destinations that are currently open to tourists may impose restrictions suddenly.

Recognizing that some Canadians intend to travel outside Canada despite the travel advisories or for essential reasons, some insurers have decided to cover COVID-19 under their individual or group travel plans, while others are making coverage options specific to COVID-19 available for you to purchase. Here are some important things Canadians need to consider before deciding to travel outside the country:

Should I go?

  • In an effort to limit exposure for their citizens, many countries around the world have implemented new restrictions for entry, therefore it is important to research current entry requirements for your destination (e.g. passport, visa, quarantine upon arrival, proof of insurance). This link takes you to a helpful resource.
  • The COVID pandemic remains unstable, and it is possible that governments around the world could change or impose new restrictions about travelling within their borders – meaning your travel plans could be impacted.
  • If governments implement lockdowns while you’re travelling, your options for accessing return flights or to return as scheduled may be limited.
  • If you have a health emergency at destination, access to healthcare may be reduced or unavailable.
  • Canada has indicated that they will not repatriate Canadians who choose to travel.

Emergency medical coverage for COVID related illnesses while travelling

The cost of emergency medical treatment in foreign countries varies widely, and your Provincial/Territorial health insurance is almost certainly insufficient to cover medical fees to treat COVID-19 outside Canada.

With respect to coverage for COVID related illnesses while travelling, it is important to understand:

  • Does your travel insurance cover COVID-19 related illnesses?
  • Is your destination excluded from COVID-19 coverage?
  • Is the level of coverage sufficient to cover the treatment of COVID-19 in a foreign hospital?
  • Are you financially able and prepared to cover any expenses above what is covered by your insurance as well as additional living expenses if your travel is impacted?
  • Does your travel insurance cover COVID-19 and all other health emergencies?

Other considerations

If you intend to travel, please refer to our July 2020 advisory for additional relevant guidance.

Remember that for travel insurance you need to contact the insurer as soon as possible if there is an issue. Most companies have toll free numbers or will accept collect calls. Many also allow you to access through a website. Be sure to take this contact information with you when you travel. If you need to find your insurer’s contact information visit

Register your trip (Register of Canadians Abroad: so the Canadian government can keep you informed while abroad.

To learn more about how the life and health insurers are responding to COVID-19, visit