Should I Purchase Additional Travel Insurance?

If you’re thinking of heading outside BC or Canada for leisure or work, you may be wondering if your existing travel insurance will cover you and your family in the event of a medical emergency. In other words, do you need to purchase additional insurance?

How you answer this question will depend on your situation. And while we can’t make this decision for you, we can provide you with information on what your insurance covers (and what it does not cover). Knowing the facts can help you make an informed decision on whether you might need additional insurance.

To help you make the decision that’s best for you, take a look at the questions and answers below:

1. What is my UBC coverage while travelling?

The BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) will cover physician and hospital services in the event of a medical emergency only. MSP will only pay up to the BC rate for these services.

The coverage provided by the UBC Extended Health Plan supplements any costs not covered by the MSP for your emergency physician and hospital services. You may be reimbursed up to 100% of the total cost, provided you have not exhausted your lifetime maximum.

The Extended Health Plan will also pay for medical expenses you would normally be covered for and reimburse you as if the expenses were incurred in BC. For example, if you submit a claim for a prescription drug you purchased outside the country, you will be reimbursed for what the cost would have been in BC. The exception is ambulance services, which are covered at 100% (if you have not exhausted your maximum).

Your dependent family members are also covered if they are enrolled in the UBC Extended Health Plan.

2. What is the maximum amount I can claim?

The lifetime maximum that each person enrolled in the UBC Extended Health Plan can be reimbursed for is $2 million. This amount is reduced each time you make an Extended Health claim. Your dependents also have a lifetime maximum coverage of $2 million.

To find out your current Extended Health balance (or that of your dependents), call Sun Life at 1-800-361-6212.

3. Am I covered by other plans?

You may also have coverage outside BC or Canada through your spouse’s plan or a credit card.

If you are covered under a spouse’s plan, you may have access to additional coverage while travelling. Ask your spouse to confirm the details of their plan.

Your credit card may also provide coverage in the event of a medical emergency. You can confirm coverage by calling your credit card company. 

4. What if I have a pre-existing medical condition or I am pregnant?

The UBC Extended Health Plan does not have a pre-existing conditions clause. This means that as long as your condition is stable before your departure and your doctor has given you permission to travel, you will be covered. It is strongly recommended you obtain a letter from your doctor clearing travel or request a note to your file prior to travel.

If you (or your dependent) is pregnant, you are covered up to and including the 36th week of pregnancy. After the 36th week, you will not be covered for any pregnancy or childbirth-related expenses.

If you give birth prematurely up to and including your 36th week of pregnancy, medical expenses for the birth mother and newborn are covered.

Regular prenatal checkups (outside of BC) while you are pregnant are not covered, even if received before your 36th week of pregnancy. You are also not covered if you travel to another province or country with the intention to give birth there. 

5. What are the exclusions and limitations?

The UBC Extended Health Plan has the following exclusions and limitations:

  • You are covered for 365 days from the date you leave BC. Hospital coverage is limited to 90 days, although this period may be extended if it is dangerous to transport you back home.
  • You are not covered if Sun Life determines (based on medical information) that you can be transported back to BC for medical attention and you choose not to return home.
  • You are not covered for non-emergency physician and hospital services.
  • You are not covered for illness or injury resulting from the hostile action of any armed forces (military or police), insurrection, riot, civil commotion or terrorist activity that you participated in.
  • You are not covered for any trip delays, cancellations or lost luggage.
  • Your emergency travel assistance services through Allianz Global Assistance, Sun Life’s travel benefits provider, may be suspended, curtailed or limited in some countries due to conditions such as war, political unrest, epidemics and geographical inaccessibility. For an up-to-date list of countries where travel assistance services may not be available, please contact Allianz Global Assistance (1-800-511-4610) before leaving on your trip.

Participation in extreme sports is not an exclusion.

For a complete list of exclusions and limitations under the Extended Health Plan and other UBC benefits, click here. 


If you are comfortable with the level of coverage provided by the UBC Extended Health Plan, then you may not need to purchase additional insurance.

However, if your Extended Health balance is low, you have a pre-existing condition, you are pregnant, or your tolerance for risk is low, you may want to purchase additional insurance for added protection and peace of mind.