Is Travel Insurance for Provincial Travel Necessary?

Many insurers actively promote travel insurance within Canada for customers who travel to other provinces. They say that because of disparities between provincial government coverage limits, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Others say it’s a waste of money, that Canada’s medicare will cover you no matter where you are in the country.

The truth is somewhere in between.

Canada’s national health care system mandates interprovincial portability of health benefits; which means that if you are a resident of Nova Scotia and need emergency medical care while visiting Manitoba, you would get it—for the most part. And it would be the same quality of care you could expect in your own province. Because of provincial agreements which are a part of the Canada Health Act, the hospital and doctor bills from Manitoba would be paid by your provincial program in Nova Scotia and you wouldn’t see a bill—just as if you had your emergency taken care of at home.

But, there are certain health care goods and services that are not covered equally in all provinces, so there are some gaps in the portability provision.  Some medications or experimental drugs are not covered equally in all provinces, so you may have an additional fee to cover if you have an emergency in another province. Provinces don’t all cover allied health care professional services such as therapists or chiropractors.  Some do, others don’t. Some cover land and/or air ambulance, others don’t. And don’t underestimate the costs of land ambulance rides: even short ones can costs hundreds of dollars.

There have also been well-publicized  cases of patients choosing to be transported cross-country by air ambulance so they might recuperate close to home, but because provincial plans won’t cover such flights, they have had to pay $10,000,  $20,000 or more out-of-pocket.

Buying insurance involves risk assessment. How much risk do you feel comfortable with?  If the thought of having to pay several thousand dollars for an interprovincial air ambulance doesn’t frighten you (or you’re willing to risk it since the chances of you needing one are rare) then maybe out-of-province coverage is not for you. On the other hand, if the thought of paying out a few hundred dollars for emergency medical bills that may not be covered while on your summer vacation out West is a concern, then call your insurer.  But understand what you are buying, and make sure you know how much risk you’re taking on. Look at the policy—the benefits and exclusions, and make a decision based on the facts and your own financial comfort level.

There is no one universal answer for everybody when it comes to province-to-province travel insurance.

It is not the same clear, unequivocal decision as buying out-of-country travel insurance.  That is a no-brainer. That you must have.

Maybe the best idea is to discuss your comfort level and risk assessment with any of the travel insurers advertising on this site. They can give you the facts. You can make up your mind. Go for the facts.

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