Sep 30, 2016

A comparison of travel insurance costs

When  I went to get a quote from the insurance broker we have been using for years I discovered a change.  In order to save money we have only been getting insurance from the day we leave our home here in Kelowna until we arrive at our destination on the Isla and then do the reverse insuring us from our Mexican departure date until we arrive back home.  I always add a few extra days in case of a mechanical breakdown resulting in a delay.  While in Mexico our plan is to pay for anything we need health wise.  The company that has allowed us to do this no longer does.  Instead they now require that you contact them before leaving Mexico and require you to reapply including answering all the health questions yet again.  Then they will issue your insurance or they might not.  What if a broken leg or arm or something else minor means that you won’t get return health coverage back to Canada?  It was a chance I could not take so I needed to purchase round trip health insurance.

What to do?  I sent out a cry for help to you my readers and you certainly came though.  So many wonderful and helpful suggestions that I would not have known about.  For those who want to read about them click here and scroll down to the comment section of that post.  Thank you for all the time you took to reply and also to those who sent me an email.  My research is based on residing in Canada, there are a few further suggestions for Americans in those comments.

Just to clarify that I am 63 and Colin is 66 and we are able to truthfully answer no to all the medical questions asked.  I found it most interesting that each insurance company had different questions from others.  Some were extremely detailed while others basic, a real range.  The quotes I got are based on our ages and our never being ill, nor taking medication nor having any ongoing medical conditions such a blood pressure issues, heart issues and never having smoked in our lives.  Of course quotes to you will be different based on your personal health issues and your age.  Our quotes are based on 169 days of travel, door to door.

The company we have used for many years quoted us $952.92 for Colin and $728.39 for myself.  A total of $1688.31.  This was through Manulife.

Next I checked Sanderson Insurance in Ontario recommended by Al, who issue through Manulife.  Similar pricing at $947.25 and $770.64 although I don’t get why mine went up an Colin’s went down.  A total of $1717.89.  The higher figure of the two will always be the quote for Colin, the official senior 🙂

An email came in from long time reader Gisele who suggested Travelers Choice and even told me to ask for her agent and to mention Gisele’s name.  Those quotes came in at $974.96 and $784.84 and that was with a $99.00 deductible.  A total of $1759.76, the cost was increasing.

A few readers suggested Blue Cross.  I mistakenly thought that you had to be paying into their program but you don’t.  However you do get a discount if you belong, I believe that it is 10%.  Correct me if I am wrong.  This was the best quote yet at $871.00 and $671.00, total $1542.00.  At this point I was happy with the price but then thought that I might as well keep calling the other companies.  It was a long and tedious process mostly due to the repetitive replies to the medical questions.

Cheapchick, a fellow blog writer and traveler suggested contacting BCAA.  Once again I thought that we had to belong to get insurance from them, but you don’t.  We were quoted $1527.70 and $1152.52, a high total of $2680.22.  We also received a quote of $125.00 less each if we took a $500.00 deductible, total of $2430.20.  That is a lot of money for $500.00 deductible.  I hope you don’t get your insurance with BCAA, you might do better elsewhere based on my research.

I even got a suggestion from blog writer Nancy who lives in Mazatlan and writes about Mexico.  Her suggestion was Medevacana but they did not return my call for several days and by then I had made by final decision.  Click here for their link.

Yet another reader suggested Medi Pac.  That quote came in at $1368.40 and $1149.50.  If we took the $99.00 deductible the quote dropped to $1244.00 for Colin and to $1045.00 for myself, a total of $2289.00.  Much more that I was willing to pay.  I can’t imagine how much more people who are on more than three medications per day have to pay never mind heart or lung issues.

Someone had suggested that I call TD First Class Visa with whom we have a credit card but the rate was off the charts.  It was also suggested that I contact CARP, the Canadian Association for Retired People as well as Medoc.  Oh and also our home insurer. I did not call these last three as after 1.5 days of being on the phone I was done but perhaps I should have.  I might even have gotten a better deal than I did but enough was enough and Colin just happened to be home at the moment and the broker actually needed to speak to him in person so I made my decision.

Two readers, Dee from South Carolina and Deborah S. who is a Canadian, suggested that I contact Costco as they offer insurance as well as travel insurance.  To be honest I had no idea that Costco offered this service.  So I called.  They  offer travel insurance through Manulife. When I found that out, I was not going to proceed as I already had three quotes through Manulife but I stuck with it.  Perhaps having a Costco membership made the difference.  The questions were long and detailed.  Finally I got the quote of  $788.33 and $622.93, a total of $1411.26.  A good price.  I then asked if they offered a better rate with a deductible.  They did and it was $500.00, by the way that is in US funds.  The deductible price was $663.83 for Colin and $524.58 for myself, a total of $1188.40.  I asked the agent to hold a moment so I could discuss this with Colin.  We both felt it was a good price and if indeed we needed to use the medical insurance which we have never ever done before that the $500.00 was reasonable.  If I broke my arm, I would likely just pay the medical expense out of pocket rather than use the insurance.  Next we had to answer the medical questions all over again, each separately and they were even more extensive.  Finally we had to be on the phone with her, Emily, to answer a further huge bunch of questions.  The entire process took well over an hour but was worth it.  If you are interested in getting a quote I have a direct line for Emily which will save you time.  Call her at 1 844 307 3824, she is in Halifax.  You might want to mention my name but I doubt if she will remember us but you never know.

Deborah S. also suggested looking up, these are her words….. will allow you to compare quotes from various insurers, AND will explain the different types of coverage. Hospital insurance is one type, and medical evacuation is usually a separate policy; having both types of coverage will cost more.

Once again I did not do this but it sounds like a good idea.  I found that all of the companies I received a quote from did offer medical evacuation as well as the medical insurance.  This also included vehicle and pet return.  We already have that at no charge from FMCA but it is nice to be doubly insured.  You do have to be a member of FMCA and travel in a Class a or C to have this insurance at no extra cost to yourself.

I am most happy with our cost of $1188.40 as we are now covered the entire trip. If you scroll back up you will see that we received a quote of $2430.20 from BCAA with a $500.00 deductible.  So we save $1241.80 by shopping around.  Overall it cost us only $788.00 more that we would have paid for our two single direction policies for travel there and back.  Money well spent.  Once again thanks to all of you readers who made this post possible.

Looking forward to your comments on this and any saving you might incur because of this post.



<< Older Posts        Home        Newer Posts >>

31 responses so far

31 Responses to “A comparison of travel insurance costs”

  1. George Yates says:

    Good shopping , but our best is much higher with no deductible. We booth have some health issues but still doable, just the cost of our lifestyle. Once they have a credit card number for the deductible, you are in trouble. And they usually ask for that. Maybe you can pay that in cash would be much better.

    • contessa says:

      I assume that you mean at the hospital re the deductible. I image that we would pay that directly to the insurance office should we have to use it. I can’t see how we would be in trouble by them having our credit card number as they would not be charging us anything.

  2. rae says:

    Wow, great shopping on your part!

    Kanetix is really good. I’ve used it to shop for a number of different insurance products. Keep them in mind for next time.

    Not to rub it in, but I’m glad I’m at an age where health insurance is still cheap…

  3. A great post and excellent advice, thanks for sharing. Time to get that Costco membership.

    • contessa says:

      The savings certainly are worth the cost of a membership. However why don’t you give Emily a call first to get your quote.

  4. Al McC says:

    Hi Contessa:

    Good work!

    One thing about the questions asked that sometimes can come back to haunt you. If the person or the questions aren’t clear (and the person doesn’t elaborate on the questions) you can have issues with a claim. For example, a colonoscopy isn’t an operation but if they remove a polyp during that procedure then it is an operation! That could be the basis for a claim refusal if you have a substantial claim and they check your medical records to try to get out of paying the claim.

  5. Bob McLean says:

    Wow. That’s a lot of time on the phone. I don’t think I’d have the patience. Kudos to you.
    We were thrilled to find out that my wife’s post retirement policy/arrangement/whatever also provides lifetime travel insurance for the two of us. And we don’t even travel abroad that much anymore!
    Sometimes hard work pays off.
    Happy Travelling.

  6. Janet Ashworth says:

    Glad you found insurance that suited your needs. SO glad that the premium is tax deductible, cause our rates are much higher than what you paid. We are members of Pacific Blue Cross and are very happy with our coverage. Not one claim that I have submitted has been questioned or denied. Payment usually two weeks. so not true of BCAA. Travel insurance like any other, dont know what you have until you make a claim. We can all be thankful that reasonable health enables us to seek warmer weather, some time in the future our stays will be shorter or sob, no more!

    • Contessa says:

      Good point Janet, hopefully everyone realizes that this can be a tax write off. Please don’t say it is so, we always have to find a way to head south and to that wonderful sun and heat.

  7. Rod & Sylvia says:

    I am not a salesman for BCAA, but I have an entirely different experience than what you documented in your post.
    In the winter of 2013-14 our total insurance costs for both of us through BCAA were about $650 for 150 days, and was a few dollars more the following winter. For this price we could travel as many times we wanted to for up to 150 days. In 15-16 we only needed a 90 day multi-trip plan as we were coming home for a few days mid-winter. Our total cost was about $320 which saved us the cost of one of our flights.

    While we’re only 60, these costs are a long way under what you received as a quote from BCAA. There are some tricks involved in getting these rates which involve purchasing a 3 day yearly policy in May, and upgrading it in November to cover whatever we need for our winter travels. The costs are then extrapolated on the calendar time remaining in our yearly policy. All in all we are very pleased with our rates and coverage.

    Talk to me next spring if you want to sae some money.

    • susie says:

      Yes this is what we have done for approx. 10 years, and our agent who we always go thru told us about the 3 day then when we leave for the winter we extend it.. pre existing and change of prescriptions are important questions.. I will check Costco to compare .. Glad you found one..

  8. Dee Tillotson says:

    Contessa, my family and I are sitting here in Myrtle Beach for the weekend celebrating my 70th birthday and taking in a few Calvin Gilmore production musical variety shows. Todd, my son, who clued me in on Costco travel services and travel medical insurance, said that he thought you and Colin got a great rate. He used them for international travel services and out-of-country travel medical insurance, too. His trip went very smooth, and when he arrived and departed airports, trains, and hotels, Costco arranged a very clean private town car to pick them up and drop them off at their designated location; no waiting around for a strange taxi.

    Dee Tillotson
    Summerville, SC, USA

  9. Wow, I can’t believe BCAA was so much! Well done you for your perseverance though. I had no idea Costco had such great rates. You saved a ton of moula!

  10. Contessa says:


    I was asked by email how the $500.00 deductible is paid. It depends on the hospital one goes to. If the hospital bills the insurance company directly then you would pay the $500.00 to the insurance company eventually. If that particular medical facility won’t deal with the insurance company then you must pay your entire medical bill yourself, put in a claim and the insurance company will pay you directly whatever they decided to pay you less the $500.00 deductible.

  11. Deborah Soloway says:

    Thanks for this detailed post, Contessa! I “thought” that using Costco would be a money-saver – nice to see it confirmed!
    As to the TD option, the TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card INCLUDES Cdn $1mil of coverage at no additional charge, as a cardmember benefit, with 21-day coverage if you’re under 65 and 4-day coverage if you’re 65 or older. Cdn $1mil won’t go far in the US but we’ve depended on it for day and weekend trips to Washington. Details are here:
    Cheers, and safe travels!
    Deborah S.

  12. Rod & Sylvia says:

    I spoke to my God Parents who are in their mid eighties and spend almost 6 months a year in Mesa. Their travel insurance last year was $19K. They can afford it, but Man, that’s expensive.

  13. Croft says:

    I missed this when you posted it but I will use the information when we apply for ours. Last year we paid $3,700 to Desjardins who issues our main credit card. I will try Emily at Costco when we decide on a date. It is getting expensive as we age. Norma is 74 and I, 71

  14. John Chan says:


    I was doing a search on comparing travel insurance prices and I came across this page. What caught my eye was a lot of comparison with Costco’s Manulife. As an insurance broker who carries Manulife products, my Manulife version is the full version compared to Costco’s. I recently ran a quote for a 49 year old mom travelling for 10 days in the States with her two children. Costco’s price was $52.82. Mine was $50.10. Ok, $2.72 difference isn’t much but the coverage is very different.

    For example.

    My broker’s version/ Costco:

    Overall coverage amount: $10 million/ $5 million
    Child care costs while hospitalized: Yes $75/day up to $500/ Not available
    Hospital allowance: Yes $50/day up to $300/ Not available

    The list of differences go on…. and you don’t have to be a Costco member. I hope this helps anyone who maybe looking for really good value for their travel insurance dollars.

    Kind regards,

    John Chan

Leave a Reply