How Do I Reach My Travel Insurance Provider's Emergency Assistance Line While Travelling?


Which phone number should I call for assistance from my travel insurance provider if I have a medical emergency while travelling?


Dealing with an injury or medical issue while travelling is stressful enough on its own, and running into trouble when trying to contact your travel insurance provider for assistance only serves to compound that stress.

Fortunately, a little knowledge and advance planning can go a long way in avoiding the added stress of not being able to reach your travel insurance provider when you need them most.

Here are our top tips to make the process easier when trying to reach your travel insurance provider for emergency assistance while travelling.

Your provider will have multiple phone numbers – make sure you’re calling the right one

Travel insurance providers have multiple phone numbers where you can reach them – each one with a different purpose - and knowing which one to call ahead of time for emergency medical assistance can avoid unnecessary stress.

A common issue faced by some travellers is calling their travel insurance provider’s Sales and Service Centre number when they are experiencing a medical emergency. The Sales and Service Centre is there exclusively to assist you with things like purchasing or making changes to your policy and answering general, non-urgent questions about your coverage/policy, so they won’t be able to assist you with your medical emergency. In addition, the Sales and Service Centre will only be open during regular business hours, so if you call during off hours, they won’t even be able to give you the emergency assistance number.

Instead, you’ll want to make sure you are calling the Emergency Assistance Centre, which will have a different phone number and will be able to assist you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The Emergency Assistance Centre will generally have two phone numbers:

  1. toll-free number for calls made from within Canada and the U.S., and
  2. collect number for calling from outside Canada and the U.S.

(Some Emergency Assistance Centres also provide a number to call if travelling within Mexico)

You should carry both of these numbers with you, as even if you are travelling in the U.S., there may be rare occasions when the toll-free number doesn’t work in the U.S. and you may need to call collect.

Keep the emergency contact number(s) in an accessible place

Locating your insurance provider’s emergency assistance numbers while you are in the middle of a medical emergency can add unnecessary stress to an already stressful situation.

To avoid being in this situation, it is highly advisable that you take some or all of the following steps to ensure you have your provider’s emergency contact numbers accessible in as many places as possible before you travel, so you can quickly and easily find them if you ever need them. These numbers can be found in your insurance policy:

  • Add your provider’s Emergency Assistance Centre as a Contact on your cell phone.
  • If your provider has an App with their emergency assistance contact information, download it to your cell phone.
  • Your insurance provider should email you a digital Emergency Contact Card. Print this card, cut it out and keep it in your wallet.

If you are travelling with a spouse or partner, both of you should take the steps above in case one of you is incapacitated during a medical emergency.

Learn how to make collect calls back to Canada from the country where you are travelling

If you are travelling outside Canada and the U.S., an often overlooked but important measure you should take is learning how to make a collect call from your destination back to Canada before you travel so you don’t have to figure it out in the heat of the moment when you are dealing with a medical emergency.

For example:

Outside Canada and the U.S., you’ll usually need to dial the two or three-digit Exit Code for the country you are in (which allows you to dial out of that country back to Canada) followed by the Country Code for Canada (1) followed by the area code and phone number for your travel insurance provider’s collect phone number in Canada.

If you are calling from a cell phone, you may be able to use the + symbol instead of the Exit Code.

Disclaimer: The material provided in the Snowbird Advisor Insurance Learning Centre is for informational purposes only and does NOT constitute insurance, legal, financial or other advice, and should not be relied on as such. If you require such advice, you should speak with a qualified professional to assist you.