Visiting Canada? Protect your health and pocket with visitors insurance

If you’re not a Canadian citizen and you require medical attention while visiting Canada, you risk incurring large medical bills and other expenses.

One cost effective way to avoid these troubles is through visitors insurance. This policy covers you while you’re in Canada. It includes coverage for medical expenses like hospital stays, doctor visits and medication.

For example, let’s say your mother is visiting. She’s coming for six months to help care for your newborn baby. Someone in her position can get visitors insurance so that her insurer will pick up the tab should she be hospitalized or suffer an unexpected medical emergency.

The tricky bit is that visitors insurance has much lower coverage limits than travel insurance for Canadians. If Canadians usually get around $3-5 million worth of coverage, enough to cover pretty much any medical emergency, visitors can get only up to $100,000 of coverage.

One reason limits are so much lower for visitors is because there are simply more unknowns with non-citizens than citizens. They’re not on the grid, so to speak, in that they don’t have medical and insurance records in Canada so it’s more difficult to access their risks, liabilities, exposures and history.

This poses an obvious challenge. Hospital stays in Canada can cost up to $3,000 a day.

That figure can climb even higher depending on the procedures you undergo. And you may have to pay extra for surgery. You can see how a single week long hospitalization can deplete your entire limit and leave you without coverage for the remainder of your visit.

Therefore we recommend visitors opt for a $50,000 or $100,000 policy. The $100,000 policy in particular provides good value: it provides double the coverage of the $50,000 policy, but costs only 20% more (not double as one might expect).

Other than the limits, visitors insurance works the same way as any other insurance policy: there are exclusions and limitations; pre-existing conditions are not covered; neither are routine procedures.

On the bright side, you’re free to travel inside Canada as visitors insurance covers you in all provinces so you’re not stuck in one place. Just keep in mind that expenses may be higher if you have to be treated or evacuated from a remote location.

Enjoy your stay!