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Aug 28, 2021

6 min. read

Learn the language so you can purchase the most comprehensive coverage for your trip

“A trip is a big investment, so you want to be protected to the max—especially in this day and age,” says Alice Martins, a travel consultant with CAA Manitoba. When purchasing travel insurance, take time to review the policy. “Ensure the coverage suits your specific needs, and be sure you understand the terminology used in the policy.” Here are some of the most common travel insurance terms and definitions.

Pre-existing Condition

A condition for which you are being tested, been diagnosed with or received treatment before the start of your travel health insurance. Alison Hammill, manager of B2B Orion Marketing, which underwrites CAA Travel Insurance, notes many people assume a pre-existing condition disqualifies them from purchasing travel insurance. “It’s best to ask about coverage options,” Hammill says.


A pre-existing condition must be stable—meaning the dosage of your medication has not changed, you didn’t start/stop treatment or weren’t advised to start new treatment within a set time period before the trip (typically 90 or 180 days). For example, if your doctor changed the dosage of your blood pressure medication a few days before departure, the condition would be deemed not stable.

Optional Coverage

Also known as a rider, it provides coverage not included in a standard policy. If you have a pre-existing condition, for instance, you can purchase coverage to reduce your stability period (e.g. from 90 days to seven). Another coverage option is available if you plan to train for or participate in a professional sport or motorized speed contest during a trip.


This refers to items outlined in your policy that would not be covered at the time of purchase. If a travel advisory is in place for your destination and you book anyway, but subsequently cancel your trip, that would be an exclusion—since you would’ve been aware of the advisory when you booked the trip and purchased the insurance policy.

Travel Advisory

The Government of Canada issues travel advisories warning against travel to destinations that pose safety or security risks to Canadians. Check the government website before you book, just before you leave and after departure to stay well-informed about precautions you should take. “It’s important to understand travel advisories and how they may influence your insurance coverage,” Martins says.


You must qualify to purchase travel health insurance. You’re typically asked if a physician has advised you against travel; if you’ve received a diagnosis of terminal illness, kidney dialysis or organ transplant, among other conditions; or if you’ve been prescribed oxygen for a lung condition. If you answer yes, you may be deemed ineligible to purchase travel insurance.

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