Do I need travel insurance when I visit a new province?

You might think that your provincial health insurance plan covers you wherever you go in Canada, but that isn’t always the case. There are actually some specific limitations to your provincial health insurance plan.

Your provincial plan will only cover certain amounts if you encounter an emergency outside of your province, which could leave you footing the bill for anything that exceeds that provincial coverage. You will also be responsible for certain fees and services.

Things your provincial health card will not cover out-of-province

  • Ambulance services (including transport and paramedic)
  • Prescription drugs and other drugs given outside of a hospital
  • Fees charged by private hospitals or facilities
  • Diagnostic/laboratory services outside of a public hospital (you may be referred to one)
  • Assistive devices (prosthetic or mobility devices)

These items are most associated with diagnostic or emergency events. Even provincial governments (Ontario in this case) suggest you buy private health insurance before leaving the province “to cover any uninsured services you may need” during your travels.

Length of coverage outside your province

You only have a certain amount of basic medical coverage days when you travel outside of your province or country for extended periods. After 212 days for Ontario residents, 153 days for Newfoundland residents or 183 days for residents in the remaining Canadian provinces, your provincial coverage will be cut off.

If you wish to travel out-of-province for longer than 7 months you need to confirm your coverage with your province before you leave, or talk to an insurance broker about your extended coverage options.

If you return from one of those 212-day vacations, you have to stay in Canada and your province for another 6 months before you can leave again with coverage; at that point your provincial health insurance will kick back in. Many travellers have learned to never hit this 212-day cap so that they can travel more frequently if desired.

Looking for more information on extended travel coverage? Read our article on the minimum or maximum number of days you can have travel insurance.