Safeguarding your summer vacation

Warm weather’s on its way, and you may be dusting off your passport and sensible walking shoes for that long-awaited getaway. But did you remember to pack your insurance?

Whether your summer vacation means hiking through Asia, a luxury cruise to Alaska or even a short jaunt within Canada, you may want to consider taking something extra with you: travel insurance. It can save you big bucks in the case of events ranging from medical mishaps and missed connections to inclement weather or even terrorist attacks. And, ultimately, it will give you peace of mind – so you can spend your well-earned time off relaxing under the sun.

What type(s) of insurance do I need?

Managing the risks associated with your vacation should be approached in the same way as planning the trip itself: based on the type of travel you’re embarking on and the type of traveler you are. Below are the main protection categories to consider.

  • Medical insurance. Simply put, this covers you for medical care costs in the event of unforeseen accidents or illnesses during your trip. For the majority of these scenarios, Canadian government health insurance plans will cover just a fraction of your costs. 

Should I buy it? Yes. It is smart protection, even when we’re not talking about costly U.S. or overseas hospital stays; if you’re traveling to a different province within Canada, you may not be covered for certain expenses. The CBC show Marketplace reported the case of an Ontario woman who had to pay over $7,000 for an air ambulance in British Columbia – a flight that would have cost a B.C. resident $274.

  • Cancellation insurance. Let’s say you’re booked on a cruise and you miss your connecting flight, or you become ill before leaving for that New York getaway, or a hurricane or terrorist threat invades your destination. Cancellation insurance will reimburse you for your expenses.

Should I buy it? Probably, but it depends on the cost of your trip and how far in advance you’ve planned it. If we’re talking about a $250 flight or a small B&B cancellation fee, you may choose to skip or limit the coverage. Similarly, the more last-minute your trip is, the slimmer the chance of something going haywire beforehand.

  • Accident insurance. This will provide benefits in the case of accidental death or dismemberment during your trip.

Should I buy it? Depends on what your existing life-insurance plan covers, as well as the risk factors in your vacation – you may need more coverage if you’re an adventure traveller. Speak with your advisor if you’re in doubt.

  • Baggage insurance. If your luggage is lost or stolen, this will compensate you, often also covering the costs in replacing your passport, birth certificate and the like.

Should I buy it? If it’s a question of replacing a couple of pairs of pants and underwear, your gold card may be enough (see below). But that may not extend to your state-of-the-art digital camera.

But I’m already covered by my credit card/group insurance plan

It pays to investigate this thoroughly – you don’t want to waste money buying protection you already have, but you don’t want to get caught short, either. Find out what you’re really entitled to.

  • Duration of stay. Are you covered for that four-month trip?
  • Baggage. What’s the maximum coverage?
  • Trip cancellation or interruption. What are the terms and the coverage limit?
  • Medical coverage. What are the eligibility requirements? How much coverage do you receive if you have a pre-existing condition?
  • Travel assistance service. Good travel insurance plans come with a 24-hour, toll-free telephone assistance service, where multi-lingual agents can help you.
  • Rental car insurance. Most gold cards include some degree of both liability and collision insurance, but it varies from card to card. Call your credit-card company to determine the limits. Furthermore, you may have coverage for rental cars in your existing vehicle insurance – check whether this would cover third-party liability, medical costs and the like.

The right insurance for you

The smartest approach when considering travel coverage is to take a good look at your vacation and custom-fit the plan accordingly. And it’s always worth it to talk to your financial security advisor before your trip to see what risks are already covered by your current insurance. It’s the first step in ensuring you leave with something extra in your suitcase: travel security you’re comfortable with.