YOU ASK:

If I already have medical insurance cover in my home country, do I need travel insurance if I want to go to Canada?

WE ANSWER:

The answer to this question is a resounding "yes!" Even though you are covered with medical insurance in your country of residence, please don't take it for granted that that insurance will have your covered when you go abroad.

Generally, local medical insurance plans do not cover medical expenses incurred abroad. If they do, the limits of the cover may be too small (some countries have more expensive healthcare systems) or may require large deductibles. The existing health insurance cover may only pay for daily hospitalization benefits equivalent to what the same hospitalization may cost in your home country. In addition, local health insurance does not usually pay for emergency repatriation or evacuation in case you need to be transported back to your home country after an injury or illness.

When you are a visitor to Canada, you will not be eligible to their government-sponsored or provincial insurance programs. That means that any bills incurred have to either be paid by you or by your travel insurance provider. And naturally, you would rather have your insurer pay the expense than you, right?

And hospital bills in Canada may reach thousands of dollars even for a few days. The most you can expect from government health insurance programs is some coverage if you have a visa that is valid for at least 12 months and that you are planning to stay there for an extended period of time (such as what you need when you go there to study).

If you only want a short-term trip to Canada, it is best to look for private medical insurance that may be offered in conjunction with your international travel insurance.

Imagine yourself going woosh-woosh down Whistler Mountain or the Banff, or rowing along the placid lakes that are aplenty, or communing with nature and going bird watching at Canada's nature parks. There are a lot of things you can do in Canada, and you can best enjoy these if you don't have to worry about any hassles and inconveniences that can mar your trip. That is why it is a good idea to get travel insurance with extensive medical cover when you plan a trip to Canada.

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