Travel Insurance For A Year Long Trip

Last modified on September 29th, 2013

I’m one of those people that always purchases travel health insurance whenever I go out of country. Normally you just go down to the insurance broker, fill out a bit of paperwork, and leave with an insurance policy that will cover you in the event of any emergency.

I figured (incorrectly) that it would be just as easy to obtain insurance for my upcoming trip, which is why I left it until the last minute. I’ve slowly been chipping away at the problem for the last month or so, and finally managed to acquire some insurance.

British Columbia’s MSP

Most of the problem with extended travel insurance is due to British Columbia’s medical services plan (MSP). Most BC residents pay into this system, either personally or through their employers. The MSP plan covers basic medical in the province, and allows everyone to obtain surgery (at no additional cost) or visit a doctor.

Unfortunately, there’s a clause in the MSP that says that each person much be physically located in BC for at least six month’s out of the year to be eligible for medical. That’s why most travel insurance plans only offer trip durations of six month’s – they are supplemental insurance meant to be used in conjunction with MSP.

Long Duration Travel Insurance

It wasn’t until I started looking at insurance options that I realized that most travel insurance plans only cover a single trip, often no longer than 30 days or so. Obviously that’s not useful for a year-long travel adventure.

I looked online, and a few places recommended World Nomads for travel insurance. If you like booking online, then definitely check out that option.

BCAA Insurance

Thanks to my dad and step-mom, I’ve been a BCAA member for about ten years now. BCAA is where I normally get my auto and travel insurance, so I went down and talked to them. Sure enough, they had a six month plan as well, with an option to extend it longer. The only trick to extending it longer is that you must inform MSP that you will be out of province for more than six months. Each resident of BC is allowed one trip of up to two year’s duration every five years, as long as MSP is notified ahead of time. So today I made the call to MSP and let them know, which means I’m technically covered for up to January of 2013 (as long as I continue to pay my premiums)

So, I walked away from BCAA today with a full year’s worth of emergency medical insurance. While some of the online quotes I had were around $700 for the year, my final bill from BCAA was $490, and it includes up to $5,000,000 worth of medical services should the need arise.

If you do the math, that works out to around $1.50 a day, which is a small price to pay to know that you’ll be covered should an emergency come up.

9 responses to “Travel Insurance For A Year Long Trip”

  1. Brad says:

    Thats a great a price. I checked RBC insurance through our travel agent site and for 1 year (up to age 59) it was over $800.

  2. Duane says:

    Some of the online quotes I had were more like $700 – $800. So, not sure if there are more restrictions or what, but it seems ok to me. A lot of those also include trip cancellation insurance though, and I’m not really interested in that.

  3. Thanks for the useful info Duane! What a pain in the ass though. I don’t really understand why MSP cares if you’re in the province or not as long as you’re paying your premiums. It’s just free money for them as far as they should be concerned.

    It does seem like a pretty good rate though. What’s the deductible or whatever on that if you actually need to see a doctor?

  4. Duane says:

    @Scott – it’s mostly for emergencies. The deductible is $250 I believe.

  5. I can’t say I’ve ever looked into long-term travel insurance (longest trip away from Canada was two weeks), but I know my folks have always used BCAA for their travel insurance needs. Being a kid who stays close to home, I’ve always used them too.

  6. Henry Lee says:

    Duane, thanks for writing about this. Although I no longer live in B.C., your article gave me some things to consider for my own plans in the future.

  7. Brennen says:

    Hi! Thank you for posting this!
    An update on pricing… For a non-member, it’s about $722.70 for the 365-day coverage (BCAA members get 10% off this price, plus if you buy online, you get an additional 5% off). This quote was provided to me on May 1, 2013.
    As an Albertan who lives sometimes / travels a lot in B.C., I chose to get a quote through the AMA first. Theirs was over $1400.00 for seemingly the same coverage, so I called the BCAA (as you said you paid total $490.00 two years ago), and got the much-more-reasonable quote of just over $700.00.

    Thanks again for writing this article, as my year-long-trip planning is already confusing enough, without being told that most insurance companies won’t even provide it! 🙂

  8. Lorraine says:

    Hi Duane

    Last week I checked prices on BCAA’s site and saw the 10% discount for members and 5% discount for booking online. Today when I went it to book and pay for the policy, the 5% was no longer offered. Is this correct? Has the 5% discount for booking online been cancelled. When I googled it, it showed up with the 5% crossed off on another site. Thanks for any help with this. Best, Lorraine

  9. Duane Storey says:

    Hi! I haven’t tried using BCAA for quite some time, so I’m not sure. It’s possible they got rid of it. I still think booking online is way better than going in person – often there are huge lines. Or you can try World Nomads as well and do a price/feature comparison.

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