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Some types of illnesses and certain activities may not be covered through your travel medical insurance policy.

When Patrick Sojka first started up about a decade ago, he had no idea how quickly it would grow. In just the travel rewards credit card category, there are more than 75 cards on the market in Canada.The Calgary based Sojka fields inquiries daily from across the country, usually questions about which cards provide the best rewards for Canadian consumers. Lately though Sojka has seen a real uptick in inquiries about credit cards and their emergency travel medical insurance coverage. "I've received a number of e-mails, especially among older card holders,  asking me about what kinds of things are covered in the fine print. It is a real concern for people when they are selecting a card," he says.

Sojka has put together a summary of cards and their medical insurance coverage on his website and stresses that before picking a card primarily for the Travel Medical Insurance coverage be sure to read the policy before you sign up for the card to see what is and what isn't covered, length of coverage periods and types of activities and illnesses that are excluded from coverage. Here are some of the things that stood out for the rewards guru.

  • Most of the plans will only cover you for pre-existing conditions (known or unknown in some cases) when those conditions are/were considered stable prior to travelling. Now the difference comes in the time period that you have to be stable, I found most cards require 90 days prior to travel but some were as high as 180 days. A pre-existing condition can be different than a medical or chronic condition which is controlled but once again during that 90 or 180 day period there usually can't be any changes or other treatment for the condition. Some will not cover routine care for a chronic condition
  • If you are traveling 9 weeks prior to or after giving birth many of the cards will not cover you if any medical issues arise that are related to the pregnancy
  • If you are young (or young at heart) and go for instance to party in Cancun during Spring Break, many of the cards will not cover you for medical emergencies that happen while you are intoxicated.
  • Certain dangerous or professional sports are not covered, even Scuba Diving is an exclusion for some cards unless you hold a basic designation from a certified school or licensing body.

These are only a few of the conditions and/or exclusions. Key word here in many of the cases is Emergency, so if you are getting routine care for something prior to travel there is a possibility it may not be covered. Also many of the policies require you to contact the insurer as soon as possible and get approval for the treatment except where the emergency is life threatening.

For a more  in depth look at Patrick Sojka's  breakdown on Emergency Travel Medical Insurance Coverage, go to

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