While the majority of Canadians recognize the significance of obtaining travel coverage such as cancellation and medical insurance for trips outside the country, many fail to acknowledge the need for medical insurance when traveling within Canada.

In certain circumstances, failing to purchase medical insurance for domestic travel could come with consequences.

The Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) recommends that travelers consider purchasing travel protection. Here’s why.

Not All Medical Expenses Are Covered By OHIP

I’m sure if you asked, most Canadians assume that their provincial health coverage, such as OHIP for Ontarians, will cover any unexpected medical costs that they may incur should they require medical assistance while traveling in another province. The fact is provincial health insurance plans will only cover some medical expenses. Therefore, you should always protect yourself by purchasing medical insurance when traveling within Canada.


Ambulance Costs Are Not Covered

Consider that the regulations and the costs for medical services vary from province to province. One of the largest potential expenses travelers could incur is ambulance services, either by ground or by air. Depending on the province, the cost for a ground ambulance ranges in the hundreds of dollars, while flying home via air ambulance can cost you thousands of dollars.

“Air ambulance services originating out-of-province are not an insured benefit under OHIP” says Alex Bittner, Vice President of THiA (Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada). “For that reason alone it would make sense for an Ontario resident to consider buying travel insurance when traveling interprovincially as the air ambulance costs could potentially be in the tens of thousands of dollars.” Travel medical insurance typically includes coverage for medical transportation back to your home province, if recommended by a physician.


Travel Protection Covers Additional Medical Expenses

Some of the other medical expenses that may not be covered by your provincial health insurance plan include:

  • some prescription drugs
  • dental emergencies
  • costs that exceed the daily limits for outpatient emergency room services or in-patient services

Be a smart traveler. Consider your medical needs and understand any insurance coverage that you may already have through your employer or your premium credit card. Travel protection may be purchased from a travel agent or from an insurance provider directly, but understand that the coverage and the costs will vary depending on the insurance company and medical coverage selected. It’s always a good idea to ensure that the insurance company you select has a toll-free emergency assistance telephone number that you can reach from anywhere you travel 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That way, you will have peace of mind knowing you can get the answers you need should anything unexpected happen.

A version of this story was originally published on TICO.ca.