When you’re buying travel medical insurance, it’s good to know what’s considered an emergency. Below, our handy chart will help you  to know which emergency medical situations are covered by travel insurance. Some might surprise you!

sick child holding tummy during vacation

In a nutshell, your emergency has to be medical, acute, unexpected, and unforeseen in nature. An emergency that’s covered by your travel medical insurance is usually an unexpected condition that causes you to go to the doctor or the ER for urgent medical attention. The “emergency” coverage will pay for an initial emergency visit, and if you have our Freedom policy, one follow-up visit (within 14 days).

The important point is that recurring illnesses or injuries are not considered emergencies by travel medical insurance, even though you may have to seek medical treatment while on a trip. Makes sense, right?

Here’s our definition of Emergency:

Emergency means an unforeseen sickness or injury, which requires immediate medical treatment to alleviate existing danger to life or health. An emergency no longer exists, when the medical evidence indicates that you are able to continue the trip or return to your province or territory of ordinary residence, (for Visitors to Canada your country of permanent residence).Once such emergency ends, no further benefits are payable in respect of the condition which caused the emergency.

What’s considered a medical emergency for travel medical insurance?

Medical Emergency Situations Some Unknown Examples
1. Accidents
  • A fall, slip, bump or spill
  • Sprained ankle, broken limb
  • Bleeding cut or wound
  • Being hit by a falling object
  • Scuba diving accident (if you’re PADI certified)
  • Injured in the backcountry
2. Sudden, onset illness
  • Food poisoning
  • Meningitis
  • Cold or flu
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Pink eye
  • Rash
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Allergic reactions
  • Infection
3. Common situations when the kids aren’t feeling well
  • Sunstroke
  • Tummy pain
  • Allergic reactions
  • Ear aches
4. Too much sun
  • Sunstroke
  • 2nd degree burns due to sunburn
  • Heat stroke
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
sun and allergy related medical emergencies are covered by travel insurance
Overdoing it in the sun (sunstroke, extreme sun burn, heat rashes) and allergic reactions are conserved medical emergencies too, for any age of traveller!

What’s NOT considered a travel medical emergency?

What ISN’T covered?

Here are some of the common situations customers ask about:

  • If you forget your medication at home (not an unforeseen circumstance)
  • If you run out of your prescription while you’re on a trip
  • Any prescheduled tests or treatment such as dialysis (or any continued or routine treatment)
  • If you need to be rescued by helicopter from a remote location (say, mountain-side) but are not injured or in any medical danger
  • Pre-natal care or childbirth (remember the “Million Dollar Baby” story earlier this year?)
  • Accidents related to professional sports
  • On-going care, rehabilitation or check-ups for an injury you had before the trip.  This means you won’t be covered for physio while travelling unless it’s a new injury that happened on the trip.
  • Any treatment in rehab centres, health spas, etc.
  • Abuse of alcohol or intoxication before or during your trip. Accidents often happen when travellers have a little too much. So go easy on the cocktails!
  • Ignoring your doctor’s advice, especially if they advised you not to travel
  • If you’re having surgery or other medical treatments abroad. Here’s the type of medical treatment the policy excludes:

Any medical condition or recognized complication of a condition, where the purpose of your trip is to seek medical treatment, advice or services, and where the medical evidence indicates the medical treatment, advice or services received are related to that condition.

You can find the full list of what your policy doesn’t cover under the Exclusions.

If you’re travelling and you feel you need to seek medical attention, do it right away! Keep in mind, however, that travel insurance covers you for unexpected misadventures and illness. Any symptoms experienced before travelling won’t be covered if they get worse on the trip. However, you can buy optional coverage for pre-existing or ongoing conditions.  Check out more details on pre-existing conditions (for seniors and other travellers).

Happy informed travels,


Find related articles on travel

Things You Didn’t Know Were Considered Travel Medical Emergencies

May 12 2015