Geared up for these last few weeks of summer travel? Hopefully, there won’t be misadventures! But if you do end up in an emergency situation, you’ll want to understand your travel insurance policy, as well as who handles your hospital billing abroad. Direct billing isn’t always possible, and up-front payments for treatment are sometimes required.

Hospital billing practices vary from country to country

United States of America

Although most US hospitals will bill your travel insurance provider directly, they may request a deposit. Often, your insurer will arrange to have the deposit returned after billing arrangements are made.

Mexico and overseas

In Mexico, billing practices vary from place to place. In major tourist destinations, hospitals are more likely to bill your insurer directly; in rural locations, they’ll likely bill you. Many hospitals will charge a deposit, so again, it’s best to be prepared.

Internationally, some hospitals may require you to pay small medical bills up front. Be sure you have enough funds available or a credit card handy.

Planning to travel with a credit card or two? Be sure to read up on safety tips for using credit cards outside of Canada

Plan for the unexpected before your trip, so you’re not caught off guard with upfront hospital billing abroad.
Plan for the unexpected before your trip, so you’re not caught off guard with upfront hospital billing abroad.

Present a travel insurance wallet card, but be prepared to pay medical fees upfront

Many travellers assume if they present their wallet card to a hospital or clinic, their provider will pay for their bill up front. But, this isn’t necessarily the case. Some clinics and hospitals will require a deposit or full payment for smaller invoices.

Then why carry a wallet card? While we can’t speak for other providers, our wallet card contains our contact information, letting our customers know who to call in an emergency. We always recommend calling us immediately when they’re admitted to the hospital, so that our dedicated emergency assistance team can coordinate care and treatment.

Making a travel insurance claim? Read our tips on how to speed up the claims process.


Always keep your original bills and receipts for your claim

When it’s time to submit your claim, your provider will require original forms and bills to complete the claims process fairly and accurately. Photocopies won’t cut it! Your provincial health care plan also requires original bills and signatures.

Travelling prepared will serve you in the long run. Be sure to have your travel policy and/or wallet card handy, and contact your travel insurance provider as soon as you can to ensure you’re getting the best care possible.

Questions? Pop them in the form below.


Happy travels,



How Hospital Billing Works Abroad in a Travel Emergency

Jul 24 2018