Can A Canadian Buy Travel Health Insurance While in the United States?

Like many, we’ve railed against the “high cost” of travel health insurance when heading to our Snowbird destination in Florida. We were chatting about this, after spending thousands and thousands of dollars over the years on travel health insurance with no real return (a two edged sword, that), and wondered, can a Canadian buy travel insurance while in the United States?

Sure you can.

Some U.S. health and insurance companies actively solicit Canadian traveller business, and even advise Canadians to buy their insurance from them before they leave, so that the travellers are fully insured before they cross the border to the U.S.


So we embarked on the process to get some estimates of what our travel health insurance cost would be if, as Canadians, we bought health insurance directly from a U.S. carrier.

US Dollars -

Remember – in the U.S. you are paying US dollars for health insurance!

You can find U.S. insurance companies with a strong on-line presence, some of which welcome your request for a quick quote, but by the same token, all that we found will require some sort of “registration” in order to get information. We did that, and since we did and you are reading this page, you don’t have to if you do not wish to.

To give you some idea of what our health and insurance criteria was, we are:

-2 Canadian adults

-ages between 60 + 70

-no pre-existing health issues and in good health for our ages

-had one claim years ago for $250 to get a prescription from a walk in clinic (see this page for our feelings about U.S. – Florida in particular – walk in clinics) – that was the total cost to the insurance company

-we are spending 5 consecutive months in Florida in the winter of 2018/2019

-coverage was for one million total care with everything included, $100 deductible for a hospital visit, no deductible for a clinic visit

-it is a multi-trip plan with two weeks allowed per trip, and then with “add-ons” to cover the total of the five months Snowbird trip (the least expensive way to do it – we checked!)

The premium, in Canadian dollars, for both was just under $1,800 Canadian Dollars, and we shopped a number of providers aggressively as Canadians are very capable of doing! Yikes. We wonder how long we are going to be able to afford the health insurance, let alone the cost of lodging, meals etc.

We are looking for a better option, for sure. Did we find it when attempting to buy travel health insurance while in the U.S.? Read on.

Next you will see an actual quotation from a U.S. insurance aggregator. This company reaches out to many carriers, provides them your criteria (at least you think they do) and returns a number of quotations from a number of companies.

The thing is, you have to read the entire “quotation” very carefully.

Despite inputting the exact criteria we wanted, their system returned quotations that did not even come close to what we sought, though some were pretty close. Here’s what we mean:

health insurance costs in the U.S. -

Remember, these are quotations in U.S. dollars! You must factor in the exchange.

Those two quotations shown were just two of the many on the page. All offered a range of insurance options, never mind that we input our specific criteria as we were looking for comparable insurance in the U.S.

In some quotations the deductible was much higher, in others the offered plan was 80/20 coverage, others indicated that if  it was a “recurring issue” (how long ago was an issue that was recurring, we wondered, 10 years, 15???) they would limit their liability to $100,000 to $250,000 depending on the company and the specifics of the issue.

Not one of the quotations from a host of U.S. insurers was even close to what we were getting via our Canadian insurance carrier.

We persevered and found that to get as close as we could to the range of coverage our Canadian insurer provided would mean a premium of around $5,000 US. At the best exchange rate we could find today, that translates to well over $6,000 dollars to get a policy commensurate with ours at $1800.

So, can a Canadian buy travel health insurance while in the United States. Sure you can, but unless you’ve got a whole lot more disposable income than we, we sure would not recommend it!

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S. Cable
S. Cable
February 26, 2020 12:41 am

The whole issue for us is, if you do have an intermediate problem, our Canadian insurance company usually wants us to immediately head home. We would love to be able to be treated in the U.S., recuperate in the U.S. and enjoy the rest of our vacation. We have experienced our insurance company wanting to send us home and we… Read more »

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