A Complete Guide to Purchasing Travel Insurance for Visitors to Canada

Thinking of visiting Canada, eh? Welcome! We are known for our maple syrup, snowy winters, and free health care. But health care is quite costly if you are not a resident or don’t qualify for coverage under the government health insurance plan. So make sure to buy travel insurance for Visitors to Canada before you arrive!  

In this article, we will review what these travel insurance policies cover. And we will tell you everything you need to know before buying the best insurance for visitors to Canada for suit your needs.

Who should buy Visitors to Canada (VTC) insurance?

Medical travel insurance for visitors to Canada protects you from unexpected medical expenses while you are in Canada. Unlike regular travel insurance, Visitors to Canada insurance can protect you for up to 365 days when you first apply and can be extended. So, it’s perfect for long stays. You may want this travel insurance if you are:

  • Visiting Canada for an extended stay
  • Applying for the super visa for parents and grandparents
  • Sponsoring family or friends to visit you in Canada and want medical insurance for them
  • In Canada on a work visa and not covered under a provincial/territorial health insurance plan
  • New to Canada and waiting for provincial/territorial health insurance plan coverage
  • A Canadian resident who has been out of the country for a while and have to wait to have your provincial/territorial insurance reinstated

Why should you buy visitors to Canada insurance?

Emergency medical expenses in Canada can be costly for non-residents. In British Columbia, for instance, the flat rate for a ground ambulance is $848. If you need a helicopter, that costs $4,394 per hour. One major hospital in Toronto charges non-residents $800 for an emergency room visit, with added fees for tests like MRIs, CT scans and X-rays. Being admitted to that hospital can cost $3,000 to $5,700 per day. Visitors to Canada medical travel insurance can help you pay for big costs like these.

What does Visitors to Canada insurance cover?

Visitors to Canada travel insurance is a medical insurance that may cover the following. It will depend on the type of plan and coverage level:

  • Inpatient medical care by a physician
  • Tests and scans
  • Prescription drugs
  • Semi-private hospital rooms, and intensive care or coronary care unit costs
  • Ambulance transportation
  • Dental
  • Paramedical services
  • Private duty registered nursing or licensed home care providers
  • Rental of a hospital bed, wheelchair, crutches, canes or prosthetics
  • Transportation services to bring you home
  • Expenses to bring someone to your bedside, return your vehicle, and bring home children under your care

Visitors to Canada travel insurance policies will also typically reimburse your estate for certain expenses related to your death. Like other travel health insurance policies, it may offer benefits for blindness in one or both eyes or the loss of one or more limbs. Some policies will let you insure your family under the same policy and add trip interruption coverage.

Your travel insurance policy will spell out the types of covered expenses and any maximums, exclusions, and limitations. Some pre-existing conditions may not be covered. And the policy may not cover things like accidents from skiing or rock climbing.

Who can apply for Visitor to Canada travel insurance?

You can apply for visitors to Canada insurance if you’re visiting Canada. You can also apply if you are a Canadian who isn’t eligible for benefits under the Canadian government’s health insurance plan.

To be eligible for visitors to Canada insurance, including super visa travel insurance in Canada, there are certain conditions. You and any family members you insure need to be between a certain age range, such as between 30 days to 85 years old. You can’t be travelling against the advice of a physician or have a terminal illness or a kidney condition requiring dialysis, for example.

What is super visa for parents and grandparents?

The super visa for parents and grandparents is a multi-entry Canadian visa that lets people visit their children or grandchildren for up to two years at a time, up to 10 years. But you need to buy valid medical travel insurance. To learn more about its benefits and how to apply, please visit the Government of Canada’s website.

Can travel medical insurance for visitors to Canada be used to satisfy the insurance requirement for a super visa?

Yes, if you bought a policy from a Canadian insurance company, and it covers at least $100,000 and is valid for at least one year from the date of arriving in Canada. You don’t have to purchase the super visa travel insurance in Canada, you can make the purchase from anywhere in the world as long as it’s issued by a Canadian company.

All Manulife CoverMe® Travel Insurance for Visitors to Canada plans fulfill the super visa travel insurance requirement as long as you have the minimum coverage amount of $100K and are covered for 365 days from the day you arrive. Read this article to learn more about applying for super visa and how to select the best Visitors to Canada insurance for super visa.

What affects VTC insurance premiums?

Your premium is based on your age, the amount of coverage you buy and how long you plan to visit. Some policies don’t have medical questions. But, generally, if you want to be insured for a pre-existing condition as defined by the policy, then you need to tell the insurance company. That could affect your premiums.

You may be able to reduce your premiums by agreeing to pay a higher deductible. For example, depending on your insurance provider, you can save 15% with a $500 deductible, 25% with a $2,500 deductible or even 35% with a $5,000 deductible. Deductible amount and savings might vary across different insurance providers. You can also save by insuring yourself, your spouse, and your dependent children under one policy.

Are pre-existing conditions covered?

Pre-existing medical conditions are ones you have before your coverage starts. Some plans cover “stable” pre-existing conditions and some don’t. If you buy a plan that doesn’t cover any pre-existing conditions, then the insurance company won’t pay expenses related to medical emergencies that result from that condition.

If you buy a plan that covers “stable” medical conditions, then your insurer will reimburse you or pay directly for expenses related to them. Your insurance company will detail what “stable” means in your policy. Manulife defines an unstable condition as one where:

  • There have been new symptoms or changes in symptoms
  • Existing symptoms have become more frequent or severe
  • A physician has found the medical condition has become worse
  • Test findings have shown the medical condition may be getting worse
  • A physician has provided, prescribed, or recommended any new medication, or any change in medication
  • There has been hospitalization or referral to a specialist or specialty clinic
  • A physician has advised a referral to a specialist or further testing, or there has been testing for which results have not yet been received

Also, Manulife doesn’t cover any heart condition if, in the 180 days before the effective date, you required nitroglycerine for relief of angina pain. And it doesn’t cover any lung condition if, in the 180 days before the effective date, you needed treatment with prednisone.

When does travel medical insurance coverage begin and end?

Your coverage starts when you arrive in Canada, or the effective date that’s on your confirmation — whichever comes later. Some policies will cover you during your journey to Canada if insurance is bought before you leave your home country.

If you buy your policy after arriving in Canada, then there is a period you have to wait, such as 48 hours, until you’re covered. Learn more about waiting period

Your coverage ends when you leave Canada or when your policy expires — whichever comes first.

When can you apply for travel medical insurance for visitors to Canada?

You can apply before or after you arrive in Canada. Manulife lets you apply for the Manulife CoverMe® Travel Insurance for Visitors to Canada up to 365 days before the day you want your coverage to start.

Can you extend your Visitors to Canada insurance coverage?

Yes, and the procedure and conditions will be outlined in your policy. With Manulife CoverMe® Travel Insurance for Visitors to Canada, you may get an extension if you ask for it before your current policy expires, if you’ve made no claims and if there have been no changes to your health. Otherwise, the Manulife Assistance Centre has to approve any extension.

Your policy may also specify that your coverage will be automatically extended under some circumstances. These could include delays related to your trip home or if you or your travel companion have an illness or hospitalization that keeps you from travelling on your policy’s expiry date.

Can you cancel visitors to Canada insurance? And can you get a refund if you cancel?

Yes, you can cancel your policy and, under some circumstances, you may even get a full refund of your premium.

Manulife offers full refunds on all medical travel plans if the request is made before the effective date.

Getting the most out of your travel insurance

To get the most out of your travel insurance to visit Canada, it’s best to apply before you leave your home country so that you can avoid a waiting period and have coverage while travelling to Canada. Read your policy and know the different types of coverage, conditions, and limitations. And be sure to contact your insurer immediately if a covered event occurs.

Additional FAQs

What is the best travel insurance for visitors to Canada?

Visitors to Canada travel insurance comes in different plan tiers. When searching for the best visitors to Canada travel insurance for you, you need to know who you want to protect, how long the stay is and what your coverage needs might be. Then rank the different plan features and benefits in order of importance. For example, if you are welcoming your parents to visit you and they have medical conditions, you will need a plan that covers pre-existing conditions.

What is the best visitors to Canada travel insurance for the super visa?

When applying for a super visa, you need proof of medical insurance from a Canadian insurance company that is valid for 1 year and has at least $100K coverage. But you may want to add more features like coverage for pre-existing conditions, dental, and accidental death and dismemberment benefits.  

Is travel insurance essential for visitors to Canada?

You don’t have to have travel insurance when visiting Canada, unless you are applying for a super visa. But health care is expensive in Canada if you don’t have coverage. Having travel insurance for Canada visitors ensures that you can enjoy your trip without worrying about the costs of a medical emergency or getting sick.

What is a waiting period?

A waiting period is an amount of time, such as 48 hours, that you need to wait after purchase or after your arrival in Canada before you’re covered. A visitors to Canada policy often won’t have a waiting period if you buy it before arriving in Canada. If you buy the policy after getting here, a waiting period is common. But even if there is one, it’s often waived for accidental injury.

How do you to submit a travel insurance claim?

In a medical emergency, insurers require that you or someone else contact them right away at the number on your confirmation/policy. This is important because if you pay the provider before contacting your insurer, you may be liable for a portion of the expenses.

Manulife has a mobile app to give you fast access to the Manulife Assistance Centre. After your emergency care, you’ll need to submit proof of claim with receipts, bills, invoices, medical records and proof of travel. The benefit will be paid directly to the health service provider, to you if you’ve already paid the provider or to your estate in the event of your death.

How do you apply for travel insurance to visit Canada?

It’s easy! You can apply for Manulife travel insurance to visit Canada online or by calling 1-877-268-3763. Have your travel dates, contact information, and credit card or bank information on hand.

Individual circumstances may vary. You may wish to contact one of Manulife's licensed insurance advisors or your licensed insurance agent if you need advice about your insurance needs.

Conditions, limitations, and exclusions apply. See policy for details.