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Adventurous, but not invincible

April 1, 2019
Caroline Arbour

If you're like most young people, you love travel and adventure. It might not feel like anything could possibly go wrong while you're away, but be careful! That feeling of invincibility could end up costing you.

Nearly half of young travellers don't think they'll get sick or inured while they're away, so they don't feel the need for travel insurance. Whereas 72% of the overall Canadian population regularly takes out travel insurance, that percentage drops to 55% for travellers age 18 to 29.* 

But caution comes with age, which means a higher rate of sports injuries in younger age groups. Still, many young travellers don't buy insurance because it feels like too much of a hassle. They just can't be bothered! 

Although you may be covered by your provincial health insurance plan when you're outside your home province, you probably won't get your money back for everything. In Quebec, the public plan only reimburses about 4% of out-of-country healthcare costs, which can easily be as much as $35,000 a day if you end up in the hospital. 

A few tips before you take out insurance: 

Evaluate your needs

Travel insurance typically has 3 parts: 

  • Healthcare: covers most necessary healthcare costs in the event of injury, accident or illness (medical assessment and treatment, hospitalization, tests, etc.). There are exclusions and limitations, though. For example, the insurer might not approve your claim if you're injured in an accident involving drugs or alcohol. 
  • Baggage: provides compensation if your baggage is lost or damaged by the airline or carrier. The amount of coverage depends on the value of the baggage.
  • Trip cancellation: reimburses you for non-refundable expenses (airfare, train/boat/bus tickets) if you need to cancel your trip or cut it short.

What you should know before you go

  • Some high-risk sports activities may be excluded from your insurance coverage (mountain climbing, bungee jumping, etc.)
  • Some countries aren't covered by insurers--typically places that the Canadian government has issued travel advisories for. 
  • The Canadian government publishes useful destination information, including what travel documents are required, how to stay healthy while travelling and what to expect when returning to Canada.

Check your existing coverage

  • Find out what kind of health and travel coverage you get through your employer (or your parents' coverage if you're a student under 25−you may be considered a dependant) as well as your auto insurance policy. 
  • Some credit card providers offer short-term travel insurance, and some even offer up to 60 days of coverage (emergency healthcare, baggage, accident, trip cancellation) as well as 24/7 travel assistance at no charge. 
  • Desjardins members get exclusive advantages, including free 24/7 travel assistance. It includes expert advice, coordination services and practical information−plus, you get a 3-day discount on Desjardins Travel Insurance. 

*2013 Conference Board of Canada data