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4 steps to take before you book international travel

January 31, 2019

If you’re planning an overseas trip, or even a short journey to the U.S., make this your first stop to help protect you and your investment.

family travel

To say there has been an uptick in Canadian international travel in recent history would be an understatement. From 2003 to the end of 2017, the number of Canadians travelling overseas has increased every year, including a record-setting 12.8 million trips in 2017.1

Of course, the quick hop across the border to the U.S. is more common and, despite more strained political relations between the countries, Canada-to-U.S. travel remains very active.2 A three-year decline in travellers ended in 2017, with 42 million same-day and overnight trips to the U.S. from Canada that year.3


While business travel accounts for a substantial component of these impressive statistics, a first-quarter 2018 report of Canadians travelling overseas showed 70 percent of respondents listing pleasure and leisure as the reason for their trips.4

Canadians clearly love to travel. However, in the excitement of researching star ratings for river cruises, island resorts and wildlife tours, sometimes essential planning steps are forgotten. Here are four steps every international traveller should take before moving from browsing to booking:

  1. Verify your passport is valid – and not just for the anticipated dates of your foreign travel. Some countries require that your passport be valid at least six months past the dates of your trip. Canadian residents can check the Government of Canada’s website for passport information, including:
    • Guidelines on applying for or renewing a passport
    • Required parameters for passport photos
    • Guidance on passport security
  2. Review health, safety and security conditions in the destinations you plan to visit. The Government of Canada’s travel website also provides a wealth of regularly updated information on these conditions.
    • The Travel Advice and Advisories page includes country-by-country travel information.
    • The Travel Abroad page includes links to register as a Canadian abroad (recommended), health and safety resources, details on needed travel documents, and more.
    • The Assistance Abroad page features locations and contact information for Canadian embassies and consulates, emergency assistance services, and other valuable support systems.
  3. Know your insurance policies and consult your providers if you are not sure whether your existing coverages meet the unique aspects of your trip, such as the length of your trip, your planned activities or your pre-existing medical conditions. This is one of the most overlooked steps in international travel planning, but it can leave you vulnerable in a medical emergency.
  4. Purchase travel insurance. The Government of Canada recommends citizens purchase medical insurance for travel overseas, as your Canadian insurance is likely not valid outside the country. Your provincial or territorial health plan may not cover any costs if you become ill or are injured while travelling abroad, or it may only cover a small portion of what can become a very significant expense leading to lasting debts. You will likely be required to make an immediate cash payment in order to receive medical attention.

There are other vital reasons to consider purchasing travel insurance:

  • It includes 24/7 assistance services to direct you to the nearest appropriate medical facility for treatment and arrange for bills to be paid on your behalf wherever possible.
  • Coverage provided through credit cards or employer healthcare plans may not cover you for all contingencies or expenses.
  • Even single-day and overnight trips can present risks that your existing insurance (whether through the Canadian government, your employer, or your credit card company) may not cover.

Whether you are travelling for leisure or for business, if you identify coverage gaps that could distract or endanger you during your travels, consider purchasing a travel protection plan from a reputable, global provider.

Zurich, operating internationally for over 100 years, configures travel protection solutions for travel suppliers to offer their customers and employers to offer their employees. Coverages range from flight delays and stolen luggage to medical evacuation and trip cancellation. Our solutions include 24/7 Zurich Travel Assist services, including an app for on-demand access to travel security assistance and alerts.

Learn about Travel Insurance solutions from Zurich.

1 Statistics Canada. Year-end review, 2017.
2 Coletta, Amanda. “Canadian tourists still can’t get enough of America.” The Washington Post. 22 March 2018.
3 Statistics Canada. Year-end review, 2017.
4 Statistics Canada. National Travel Survey, first quarter 2018.

This is intended as a general description of certain types of insurance and services available to qualified customers through Zurich Insurance Company Ltd in Canada (“Zurich”). Nothing herein should be construed as a solicitation, offer, advice, recommendation, or any other service with regard to any type of insurance product underwritten by Zurich Insurance Company Ltd. Your policy is the contract that specifically and fully describes your coverage. The description of the policy provisions contained herein gives a broad overview of coverage and does not revise or amend the policy. Coverages and rates are subject to individual insured meeting our underwriting qualifications.

The information in this publication was compiled from sources believed to be reliable for informational purposes only. All sample policies and/or procedures herein should serve as a guideline, which you can use to create your own policies and procedures. We trust that you will customize these samples to reflect your own operations and believe that these samples may serve as a helpful platform for this endeavour. Any and all information contained herein is not intended to constitute legal advice and, accordingly, you should consult with your own legal counsel when developing programs and policies. We do not guarantee the accuracy of this information or any results and further assume no liability in connection with this publication and sample policies and procedures, including any information, methods or safety suggestions contained herein. Zurich does not undertake any obligation to publicly update or revise any of this information, whether to reflect new information, future developments, events, circumstances or otherwise. Moreover, Zurich reminds you that this cannot be assumed to contain every acceptable safety and compliance procedure or that additional procedures might not be appropriate under the circumstances. The subject matter of this publication is not tied to any specific insurance product nor will adopting these policies and procedures ensure coverage under any insurance policy.

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