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Is travel insurance worth it?

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Is travel insurance really worth the money? Read more about credit card travel insurance and the best travel insurance credit cards in Canada and whether you should be still be buying it for your next vacation?

We’ve all been there: a single click away from booking those hard-earned airline tickets for a little well-deserved R and R, and there it is, the travel insurance option. It can be hard to know which way to go. Do you shell out the extra cash or fly by the seat of your pants? To figure out this complicated issue, we went to the experts—a panel of Canadian travel bloggers. Read on to discover what these seasoned travellers know about travel insurance and whether you should buy it for your vacation.

Some great cards have you covered

Credit card
Best for
Flight delay/cancellation coverage
Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
Emergency medical insurance

We’ve compared all the credit cards, and these are our top credit cards for travel insurance in Canada.

For flight delay/cancellation coverage

Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite* Card

3x Scene+ points on every $1 you spend at Sobeys, Safeway, IGA, Foodland and participating Co-ops and more

2x Scene+ points for every $1 you spend on other eligible grocery stores, dining, eligible entertainment purchases and eligible daily transit options (including ride shares, buses, subways, taxis and more)

1x Scene+ point for every $1 spent on all other eligible everyday purchases

$150 Annual Fee

20.99% Purchase APR

22.99% Cash Advance APR

22.99% Balance Transfer Rate

5.00% Balance Transfer Fee

0.00% Foreign Transaction Fee

Good Recommended Credit Score

$60,000 Required Annual Personal Income

$100,000 Required Annual Household Income

Welcome Offer Ends Jul 1, 2024

Earn up to $1,300* in value in the first 12 months, including up to 40,000 bonus Scene+ points and first year annual fee waived

Learn more

If you’re a frequent traveller, you have almost certainly experienced a flight delay. And the last thing you want to do is sleep in the airport or pay a hefty hotel bill. One of the most underrated coverages, flight delay insurance allows you to claim accommodations, meals, and personal items purchased after a lengthy delay. While many cards offer this coverage, Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite* Card provides a robust $500 per insured person towards expenses after just a 4-hour delay.

This card also includes travel emergency medical insurance, delayed/lost baggage insurance, car rental insurance, and travel accident insurance as part of the package. Finally, it includes a complimentary Visa Airport Companion Program membership and has no foreign transaction fees—an enormous bonus for those who make purchases when on the road. Plus, you get six complimentary lounge visits per year from the date of enrollment, providing you with access to 1,200+ airport lounges globally, including participating Plaza Premium Lounges, which comes in handy during a flight delay. 

¹ Conditions apply. Visit here for the Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite* Card to learn more.

For trip cancellation/interruption insurance

Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card

6x Scene+ points on every $1 you spend at Sobeys, Safeway, Freshco, Foodland and more

5x Scene+ points for every $1 you spend on dining, food delivery and other eligible grocery stores. Includes popular food delivery and food subscriptions.

5x Scene+ points for every $1 you spend in Canada eligible entertainment purposes. Includes movies, theatre and ticket agency stores.

3x Scene+ points for every $1 CAD you spend in Canada on eligible gas and daily transit options. Includes ride shares, buses, subway, taxis and more.

3x Scene+ points for every $1 CAD you spend in Canada on eligible select streaming services.

1x Scene+ point for every $1 spent on all other eligible everyday purchases.

$120 Annual Fee $29 for each supplementary card

20.99% Purchase APR

22.99% Cash Advance APR

22.99% Balance Transfer Rate

0.00% Foreign Transaction Fee

Very Good Recommended Credit Score

Welcome Offer Ends Jul 1, 2024

Earn up to $650* in value in the first 12 months, including up to 40,000 bonus Scene+ points.

Learn more

Booking a trip in advance is always a gamble. You never know what might happen that could prevent you from travelling, but with the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card, you’re covered. If you are forced to cancel or delay your trip because of eligible medical or non-medical causes, you are automatically insured for up to $1,500 per person for eligible expenses (maximum $10,000 per trip) when you charge at least 75% of such trip expenses to your card.

Plus, this card comes with delayed/lost baggage insurance. Like a delayed flight, losing your luggage is only a matter of time. And it’s gonna cost you if you have to buy a bunch of replacement clothes, toiletries, and other stuff (especially if there are foreign transaction fees). Insurance against this annoying situation generally covers essential items, but as discussed above, what is considered essential can vary widely. With the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card, you’re covered for $500 per insured person after just a 4-hour delay and $1,000 for delayed baggage for all insured persons on the same trip.

It’s also a travel rewards credit card that offers great Scene+ points.

¹ Conditions apply. Visit here for the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card to learn more.

For frequent flyers

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card

1.5 points for every $1 spent on eligible gas, grocery and direct through Air Canada® purchases (including Air Canada Vacations®)†

1 point Earn 1 point for every $1 you spend on all other purchases†

2x Earn points twice with Aeroplan partner brands and on the Aeroplan eStore.†

50% Earn 50% more Aeroplan points at Starbucks when you link your card to your account.†

1 NEXUS application fee rebate every 48 months†

1st checked bag free for you and up to 8 travel companions†

$139 Annual Fee Additional cardholder is $75.†

20.99% Purchase APR APR for purchases 20.99%†

22.99% Cash Advance APR APR for cash advances 22.99%†

22.99% Balance Transfer Rate APR for balance transfers 22.99%†

2.50% Foreign Transaction Fee Foreign transaction fee: 2.50%†

Excellent Recommended Credit Score

$60,000 Required Annual Personal Income

$100,000 Required Annual Household Income

Welcome Offer Ends Jun 3, 2024

Earn up to $1,200 in value† including up to 50,000 Aeroplan points†. Conditions Apply. Account must be approved by June 3, 2024.

Learn more

We’ve consistently named this as one of the best credit cards for Aeroplan collectors, but it also comes with a comprehensive travel insurance package† that suits frequent flyers of any age. The TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card offers an excellent travel medical insurance policy† that totally justifies the $139 annual fee for the credit card. Cardholders get up to $2 million of coverage for the first 21 days of their trip, and even cardholders who are 65 or older get coverage for the first 4 days of their trip†. Moreover, additional top-up coverage is available if you need it.

Also included is trip cancellation insurance of up to $1,500 per insured person, with a maximum of $5,000 for all insured persons†, as well as coverage for trip interruption†, delayed/lost baggage†, flight/trip delay†, and car rental insurance†.

Another reason to sign up is because of its winning welcome offer, premium perks and great potential to rack up Aeroplan points. 

†Terms and conditions apply.

This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For Quebec residents, please click here.

For emergency medical coverage

BMO Ascend World Elite

5x 5x the points for every $1 spent on eligible travel purchases*

3x 3x the points for every $1 spent on eligible dining and entertainment purchases and recurring bill payments*

1x 1 point for every $1 spent everywhere else*

$150 Annual Fee

20.99% Purchase APR

23.99% Cash Advance APR

23.99% Balance Transfer Rate 21.99% for Quebec residents

2.50% Foreign Transaction Fee

Excellent Recommended Credit Score

$80,000 Required Annual Personal Income

$150,000 Required Annual Household Income

Welcome Offer Ends May 31, 2024

Get up to 90,000 points and the annual fee waived in the first year for both the primary cardholder and authorized users.*

Learn more

But what about emergency medical travel insurance? After hearing from our experts you’ll want to make sure you’re properly covered, and the good news is many cards include up to $1,000,000 in emergency medical travel insurance. This is really essential to have for any trip, as the bills add up during an emergency, and could even bankrupt you.

If you want the ultimate coverage, check out the BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®*, which covers emergency medical protection for up to $2,000,000*. Also included are policies for car rental insurance, trip cancellation/interruption, and lost or damaged luggage*. That’s sure to give you peace of mind.

*Terms and conditions apply.

BMO is not responsible for maintaining the content on this site. Please click on the Apply now link for the most up to date information.

†Statement based on a comparison of the redeemable value of the non-promotional travel rewards points earned on premium flexible Canadian credit cards as of May 3, 2022. “Flexible” is defined as points earned when you purchase travel anywhere and “premium” refers to cards with an annual fee of ≤ $150 or has an income requirement of ≤ $150,000 annual individual income.

Types of travel insurance and exemptions

I know, I know—I can see your eyes glossing over. The minutiae of travel insurance may well be one of the factors that prevent folks from buying it!

The good news is that unless you’ve got something really outlandish planned, there are just a few main types to consider: trip cancellation/interruption, baggage loss/theft, and emergency medical travel insurance.

Trip cancellation/interruption

In making a coverage decision, a simple review of your circumstances and your trip can do a lot of the heavy lifting. Is the cost of your travel substantial? For instance, if you’ve saved for months or years to buy expensive flights, you might want to consider insuring against trip cancellation.

If you booked on points or they were otherwise a low investment you can consider going without. Always check the fine print, though, if you’re leaning towards springing for coverage. Some policies won’t reimburse you for cancelling a trip, except in extreme circumstances such as a death in the family.

Theft and baggage loss

The same idea applies to baggage loss or theft, with the additional note that this kind of coverage tends to be very difficult to collect on. If you’re travelling with something extremely valuable like a new laptop or expensive camera equipment, speak with your provider to make sure that it’s covered. These policies can include unexpected exemptions, leaving you uninsured.

Emergency medical travel insurance

Emergency medical travel coverage protects you in case of injury, and it is, without exception, a must-have according to our experts. However, as with all insurance, it’s crucial to read the policy. Common exemptions include injuries sustained during risky activities – such as skydiving, injuries stemming from pre-existing conditions – and injuries sustained while intoxicated.

Rental car collision/loss damage insurance

In general, car rental collision/loss damage insurance covers you if your rental car is damaged or stolen while you have possession of the vehicle. Unless your home car insurance already covers car rentals, then having this type of insurance is a necessity when you’re renting a car during your travels.

For any kind of policy, you should understand the deductible, maximum payable, and exemptions before you sign.

Guidelines for buying travel insurance

When you’re shopping around for travel insurance, here are a few pointers to keep in your back pocket:

Every Canadian traveller needs emergency medical coverage

As Canadians, we’re accustomed to terrific (and mostly free) healthcare, but if we want that coverage to follow us around the world, we need to purchase emergency medical insurance. Canadian public health insurance is not valid outside of Canada, and the Canadian government will not pay for your medical bills for an illness or accident suffered abroad.

Even if you’re travelling within Canada’s borders, having emergency medical coverage can be crucial. It’s true that you’ll likely be covered for some of the same services insured by your home provincial plan. But depending on where you’re visiting, some services may not be covered, such as ambulance, hospital transfer, prescription drugs, transportation back to your home province, and procedures not currently approved by your home plan. You’ll also likely be charged for any medical bills incurred in Quebec, which requires up-front payment from non-residents. That’s why having at least $1 million in emergency medical coverage is a must even if you’re taking a “staycation” in Canada.

Consider getting your own car rental insurance

You might not think of car insurance when you’re shopping for travel coverage, but if you’re planning on driving during your trip, it’s worth looking into beforehand. Although you will be offered insurance at the rental counter, these policies are usually restrictive and far more expensive than purchasing in advance.

One seriously important thing to note: rental car collision/loss damage insurance policies will never include liability insurance (if someone sues you due to an accident you caused in the rental car), so keep that in mind when you’re assessing your insurance needs.

Read the fine print

Understanding the terms of your policy really is crucial. There’s the issue of exemptions mentioned above, but there are other rules and term limits that you absolutely must be known before you go. For instance, pre-existing medical conditions are usually not covered by travel insurance, and often “high-risk” activities (like scuba diving or water-water rafting) aren’t covered unless you pay extra for a more comprehensive plan.

Check your credit card travel insurance

You might not be aware of it, but if you have a credit card and you pay for your trip with that card, you may already hold some travel insurance. Make sure you understand the included policy so you don’t spend double on protections. And if you’re looking for a credit card that meets your specific travel insurance needs automatically, consider our top credit cards for travel insurance.

The verdict

Common sense dictates—and our experts agree—travelling without insurance is not only ill-advised, but it’s also unnecessary. By combining your credit card coverage with any required extras, you can travel worry-free. And really, who wants to fret about whether they’re covered on a vacation? Bon voyage!

The best credit cards by category:

About our author

Keph Senett
Keph Senett, Author

Keph Senett is a Canadian freelance writer whose areas of expertise include personal finance, travel and sports. When not writing, she spends her free time trying to figure out how to qualify for a soccer squad in Asia, Australia, or Antarctica.


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