If you’re about to take a cruise and haven’t arranged travel insurance before you leave, you can’t really leave your worries ashore.
More and more countries are now requiring visitors to show proof of travel insurance before being allowed to enter. That’s their way of protecting themselves against unpaid medical bills left behind by tourists. If you arrive in a country without the proper travel insurance, you will be forced to purchase insurance or you will not be allowed to enter the country. There may even be certain benefits limit requirements – most notably for emergency medical coverage -- requested by the country you are visiting.
Unless you have bought private out-of-country travel insurance in Canada to cover your cruise, the only thing you have to fall back on is provincial government coverage — which pays foreign hospitals and doctors only a small amount of the bills they submit to you. That means you’re on the hook for the rest.
In Ontario, OHIP only covers limited costs if you are travelling outside of Canada as long as it's not longer than 30 days.
If you require emergency inpatient services, for example, OHIP will only pay $400 CDN per day for services provided in an operating room, coronary care unit, intensive care or a neonatal or pediatric special care unit. Otherwise, they’ll only provide $200 CDN per day for lower levels of care. Those bills can add up quickly.
Even the Ontario government’s website advises travellers to buy private health insurance to cover any uninsured services needed.
RELATED READING: OHIP coverage while outside Canada
A Canadian purchasing private Canadian travel insurance could be covered for medical emergencies, repatriation to a hospital at home, return of deceased remains, travel of loved ones to your bedside. It may also cover an accident or sickness onboard which normally you would pay to the ship’s medic at rates similar to the U.S. You should talk to your broker and know your policy limits.
In addition, the cruise line protection plans will charge you directly for any medical or evacuation bills you encounter, and leave you to collect from your insurer—private or government.
There are additional reasons to purchase travel insurance:
If you’re planning a trip, be sure to talk to your broker to develop a travel insurance policy that is right for you. Happy cruising!
RELATED READING: Advice for travellers from the Canadian government - buy insurance