American tourists are welcome in Canada, and our neighbors to the north offer a broad mix of leisure activities and cultural experiences without overseas travel. Many U.S. cities offer direct flights throughout the provinces. You can opt for a short weekend to recharge in Quebec or a longer trip to explore Vancouver.
“Rocky coasts, old-growth forests and snow-capped peaks—Canada is known for its vast and remote natural landscapes, as well as both modern and historic cities that are exciting to explore,” says Lisa Cheng, spokesperson with World Nomad, a travel insurance company.
Although travel insurance isn’t required to enter Canada, many adventure tour companies—especially those operating in remote destinations—may require their travelers to hold travel insurance, says Cheng.
Make sure you check the entry requirements for Canada before you go.
Here’s what you should purchase in a travel insurance policy for trips to Canada.
Travel Insurance That Won’t Leave You in the Cold
Standard travel insurance policies are packed with protections and offer a financial safeguard against unplanned and unexpected events.
“With virtually any international destination, I would recommend buying a travel insurance product that has coverage for trip cancellation, trip interruption, trip delay, medical expense, medical evacuation and baggage,” says Scott Adamski, spokesperson with AIG Travel.
Ideally, Adamski says to purchase your travel insurance within 15 days of the initial deposit date for your trip, so that early-purchase provisions of the travel insurance policy are built in like the waiver of the pre-existing medical condition exclusion.
Don’t fret if you have an upcoming trip to Nova Scotia for leaf peeping—a policy can still be purchased up to 24 hours prior to your trip departure date.
Lock in Trip Cancellation Insurance
A travel insurance policy provides a safety net if events arise that force you to cancel your trip. For example, if your sister is supposed to watch your children while you travel and she becomes too ill to care for them, that would be a covered reason to cancel.
Other reasons usually covered under trip cancellation insurance include death or severe illness or injury, job loss, military deployment, family emergency, terrorism or a severe weather that impacts airline travel.
Your policy will reimburse any pre-paid or non-refundable expenses that you’ve paid. This could include ski tickets and private ski lessons for a trip in Banff that are non-exchangeable and non-refundable.
Whenever you’re putting large sums of money down for non-refundable deposits, consider buying travel insurance as a safety net.
Not all reasons for canceling a trip are covered. If you and your partner break up five days before a long weekend trip to Montreal, this is not a covered reason in a standard cancellation policy.
Should you see signs of an impending split in the relationship before you travel, the best course of action is to purchase a “cancel for any reason” (CFAR) coverage upgrade, which adds about 40% to the travel insurance cost. This upgrade will allow you to cancel your trip for any reason, but it must be canceled 48 hours or more from the time of your scheduled departure.
If you do part ways—from your partner and your trip—you can be reimbursed for 50% or 75% of the trip cost under CFAR coverage, depending on the plan.
Delays in Your Canada Adventure
In the winter months, it’s not uncommon for severe weather to cause flight delays or shut airports down in Canada. If you have a trip to Whistler planned, you could be taking at least two flights to get there. For example, if you are flying from Atlanta to San Francisco and your flight is delayed due to thunderstorms, a snowball effect can happen, causing you to miss your connecting flight to Vancouver.
If you require a hotel stay and meals, you can file a claim for reimbursement under travel delay insurance. Just be sure to save all receipts.
Many insurance plans have a required minimum delay before you can be reimbursed. Check your policy—it’s often six to 12 hours.
Trip delay benefits also cover expenses you will miss out on due to a covered delay.
If you pre-paid a private ski lodge with close-up access to snowboarding, skiing and other outdoor fun, and you miss a day or two because of severe weather, you can file a claim.
Tackling Trip Interruption
One of the most heart-breaking vacation problems is having to cut your trip short due to a family emergency.
The province of Quebec allows you a slice of European life without the pricey and long flight overseas. If during your trip in Quebec City enjoying the Winter Carnival, your grandfather in the U.S. slips on steps and takes a serious fall, this would be a covered reason to interrupt your trip.
Trip interruption benefits would cover the cost of booking a one-way ticket home, and will also cover any missed tours you pre-paid that are not refundable.
Dealing with Lost Bags and Belongings
Benefits of your policy span way beyond lost luggage. Baggage loss coverage also protects personal belongings during your trip in Canada.
“If you’re checking your ski or mountain climbing gear into your flight, travel insurance may be able to help with a replacement, repair or reimbursement if your equipment is lost or damaged during your trip,” says Cheng at World Nomads. Note that you will generally receive the depreciated value for your gear or skis, not the cost of new items.
Or, if you are sightseeing in Toronto, it’s wise to be vigilant with your belongings. If your iPhone is snatched from your back pocket, you can use your travel insurance policy’s personal effects coverage for reimbursement.
Making Plans for Medical Bills in Canada
Even though Canada is just over the border, your U.S. health insurance plan will not be accepted there unless it specifically provides global coverage. American Medicare also is not accepted in Canada. It’s important to purchase travel medical insurance in case you suffer an injury or fall ill while in Canada.
We all know Canada draws winter sports enthusiasts. If you are snowboarding and collide with a tree, or another person, this could be quite an accident. If you require medical attention, your travel insurance policy’s benefits will cover doctor visits, prescription medication, X-rays and even a hospital stay.
Even fully vaccinated travelers may want to look specifically for a policy that covers Covid-related medical expenses during the trip.
Evacuation for Serious Medical Issues
If you’re in a particularly distant or isolated area of Canada, you’ll also want emergency medical evacuation coverage to facilitate transportation to the nearest suitable hospital for your condition, which could be hundreds of miles away, says Cheng with World Nomads.
If you have an accident or illness that’s very severe, your travel insurance company will coordinate a medevac to get you to a trauma unit for medical care.
If you don’t have this coverage, you would be responsible for both medical bills and private medical transport which could cost thousands of dollars. The nominal cost of a robust travel insurance policy provides peace of mind.
Read More: Forbes