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It’s nearing winter season, and that means the cold winter weather will be here before you know it. When cold temperatures start to set in, many of us here in Southwestern Ontario start planning our winter getaway vacations. Whether it’s an all-inclusive resort somewhere in the Caribbean or an AirBnB rental in the southern United States, a week long vacation away from the Canadian snow is definitely a winter must for some.

While trip planning usually entails looking through great photos of your chosen destination, reading reviews of the resort you have your eye on, and hammering out the logistical details like itineraries, flight times and budgets, it’s also beneficial to consider the plan for a worst case scenario, like becoming injured while on vacation.

Thinking about a worst case scenario is definitely not as much fun as scrolling through tropical pictures online or imagining yourself sitting on a beach sipping a nice cold drink. But the unfortunate reality is that accidents can happen, and it’s best to be informed and prepared in the event that they one day happen to you.

Sustaining an injury while away on vacation is much more complex than sustaining an injury at home. This is simply because the insurance and security you have in Ontario does not necessarily apply when you are travelling in a foreign country. In this article, we address some common misconceptions about insurance coverage outside of Canada, and the necessary steps to take if you become injured while on vacation.

Common Misconceptions

#1: My Ontario-based insurance will cover me abroad.

This is one of the most common misconceptions people have when travelling outside of Canada. While your Ontario coverage – OHIP – does indeed go wherever you go, it rarely covers all of the very expensive medical services you might need if you were to sustain an injury in a foreign country.

Before leaving for your next vacation, make sure to do your research and fully understand your Ontario-based insurance policy and what exactly it covers outside of Ontario and Canada.

#2: If I am injured by negligence while abroad I can sue for compensation back home.

Often times, you are bound by the laws of the country, state or region you are travelling to, and jurisdictional issues can make it difficult to make a personal injury claim back home for an injury that was sustained abroad. This becomes even more crucial to understand if your injury was directly caused by the negligence of another person or party. However, if the negligence in the foreign jurisdiction was caused by someone or a company that is a resident of Ontario or does business in Ontario, then it may be possible to establish sufficient connection to Ontario to enable you to advance a claim for compensation in Ontario. The jurisdictional issues are complex and require early investigation by an experienced lawyer.

#3: Travel insurance isn’t necessary.

Because travel insurance is an added option for those who wish to travel, some people do not think it is necessary to pay the extra money for this insurance. Sure, there is a good chance that your trip will go exactly as planned and no one in your party will become injured, however, the possibility of injury does exist. Since you can’t always count on Ontario-based insurance coverage to help you in a personal injury situation outside of Canada, it is necessary to review your travel insurance alternatives and current coverage when planning your trip.

Often travel insurance can cover a variety of items including lost luggage costs, cash or property that is stolen while traveling, and perhaps most importantly, medical expenses incurred in the event of an injury or illness. Make sure to find a reputable travel insurance company and fully understand the coverage before leaving for your trip.

Next Steps: What To Do If Injured

In the unfortunate event that you sustain an injury while on vacation, in addition to seeking medical attention, it’s important to do the following:

  • Contact your insurance provider, your hotel or resort and your travel agency immediately
  • Contact the Canadian consulate in the foreign jurisdiction which may assist with locating physicians, translation services and helping to coordinate medical evacuation and communicating with your family. For a listing of Canadian consulate offices in foreign jurisdictions see: https://travel.gc.ca/assistance/embassies-consulates
  • Keep all travel documents with you and leave copies at home with someone you can contact in the event of an emergency
  • Before you leave the jurisdiction, try to obtain the name and contact information from any witnesses if you believe the injury was caused by someone’s negligence
  • Keep important documentation related to your injury or medical expenses such as hospital discharge papers, receipts and paperwork

Unfortunately, the compensation you obtain in any personal injury case for accidents abroad will depend on your insurance coverages, the laws of the country you were visiting when you sustained your injuries, and jurisdictional issues that may prevent or allow a lawsuit to be brought in Ontario. Because each country, state and region may have their own distinct legal process, your rights and entitlements may differ when it comes to a personal injury claim. An early investigation may be crucial in determining whether there is sufficient connection to Ontario to be able to bring a lawsuit in Ontario for compensation even though the accident occurred abroad.


Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer

Due to the complex nature of filing a claim for an injury that was sustained outside of Canada, it’s always best to contact a professional personal injury lawyer. Our experienced team at Harrison Pensa understands how to build a successful case in complex cases such as these. Whether you just need a few answers to your questions or want to get started on a claim for injuries you or a loved one experience while traveling,
contact us today.

A word from our clients

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"My wife was involved in a very serious motor vehicle collision several years ago, and luckily she survived, but unfortunately she suffered some injuries."
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January 8, 2016

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HARRISON PENSA ™ is a full-service law firm representing private & business interests throughout southwestern Ontario.

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