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Insurance is a must in many cases but some of us choose to do without it since the monthly premium cuts into our bottom line. This is a huge mistake, having the right insurance should be part of our financial plans, but what is considered must have insurance?

Life insurance

I’ve actually come across people who don’t believe in life insurance. They figure once they’re gone, what does it matter? Life insurance isn’t there to protect us; it’s there to help our loved one’s transition when we’re gone. Do you want your significant other to pay for the mortgage on a single income just because you were too selfish to get life insurance? How about your children? Don’t you want to make sure there is some money available in the event you pass early?

We can debate term vs. whole-life insurance another day but the point is; if you have any dependents, you should have life insurance. Even if you don’t have any dependents, life insurance can still give you peace of mind.

Disability insurance

We all understand the importance of life insurance yet many of us overlook disability insurance. Disability insurance is there to protect us in the event we are unable to work for an extended amount of time. It’s a must have insurance since it protects our greatest asset, which is our ability to earn an income.

Travel medical insurance

We’re pretty lucky, as Canadians, we don’t have to worry much about medical care since most things are covered by our provincial health plans. However, when we travel our health benefits don’t carry with us so getting travel medical insurance is a must. A 15-minute visit to the hospital in the U.S. could cost you a few hundred dollars; anything more serious could be a few thousand.

If you have a travel rewards credit card then you’ll most likely already have some travel medical insurance. If not, check with your employer as sometimes they offer free travel insurance as a standard benefit.

Travel medical insurance costs only a few dollars a day, even if you’re crossing the border for just a few days it’s worth getting insurance. To simply put it; if you can’t afford travel medical insurance, you can’t afford to travel.

Automobile insurance

There’s a simple reason why automobile insurance is a must have insurance; it’s illegal to drive without it. You might be thinking that the old junker you’re driving is not worth insuring but it’s not the value of the car you should be worried about, it’s the liability. If you get into an accident and you damage someone’s property, or cause personal injury; you could face huge bills or a lawsuit. Protect yourself and your wallet from the pain by not driving without insurance.

Homeowners insurance

The odds are you won’t ever need to claim insurance for damage to your home but imagine the costs if you did? You never know when lightning or fire could strike so don’t skip out. The liability part of your homeowner’s insurance will protect you in the event your home causes damage to your neighbours e.g. flooding.

In the event of theft, your home insurance will cover your contents which will give you peace of mind. The cool thing about homeowners’ insurance is that it carries over when you’re travelling. So if you bring your laptop and camera on a trip and it gets stolen, you’ll still be covered. Just factor in the deductible and figure out if it’s really worth making a claim.

Final thoughts

Technically speaking all of these policies are “optional” but you’re taking a huge risk by not having them in place. Protect you and your family by getting these must have insurance policies.


About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi


  1. Avatar KC on February 26, 2015 at 7:30 AM

    A good summary.

    Living in a border town, I automatically have travel insurance through work so, I can freely travel to the US without worrying if my medical expenses are covered. Looking back now on all the times that I’ve travelled there without insurance, I now count myself fortunate not to have been injured considering how many near misses that I’ve had while I was over there.

    • Avatar Barry Choi on February 26, 2015 at 10:18 AM


      Many people don’t realize how expensive health care in the U.S. or they assume our Canadian health benefits will cover us and that simply isn’t the case. Anyone making a trip to the U.S. even for a day should have the proper medical insurance in place.

  2. Avatar Daniel @ SaveWithDan on February 26, 2015 at 8:26 AM

    Insurance is a weird product. Who sells it doesn’t want you to use it, and who buys it doesn’t want to ever need it either 🙂

    • Avatar Barry Choi on February 26, 2015 at 10:30 AM

      No one wants to own insurance but we’ll sure be glad we have it if we ever need it.

  3. Avatar Tawcan on February 26, 2015 at 2:38 PM

    Good summary, all these insurance products are important. 🙂

    • Avatar Barry Choi on February 26, 2015 at 2:46 PM

      Thanks Tawcan! I think I need to follow up with insurance policies to avoid.

  4. Avatar Stephanie on February 26, 2015 at 3:31 PM

    You can also add “extended health & dental” to the list. Provincial healthcare plans do not cover much. Medicine, dental & vision care are super expensive, and usually not covered by provinces. The chances of needing these 3 over the course of a lifetime are pretty high, if not guaranteed.

    • Avatar Barry Choi on February 26, 2015 at 3:35 PM


      Good point, many employers have been cutting back on their payout benefits to save money.

  5. Avatar simplecheapmom on February 26, 2015 at 4:53 PM

    We’re lucky that we get most insurance through Simple Cheap Dad’s work. I never want to use it, but I am sure glad it’s there.

    • Avatar Barry Choi on February 26, 2015 at 10:21 PM

      SImple Cheap Mom,

      Yes most of my insurance needs are covered through my employer also. However if I ever leave the company I might be in tough position life insurance wise.

  6. Avatar Brian So on February 26, 2015 at 6:15 PM

    Great list Barry. I think you nailed it, as these are insurance policies that everybody should have, even if they are not mandatory.

    • Avatar Barry Choi on February 26, 2015 at 10:23 PM


      Thanks for helping me out! People are taking huge risks by not having these insurance policies in place.

  7. Avatar Virna on February 26, 2015 at 6:51 PM

    Insurance is expensive but necessary.

    • Avatar Barry Choi on February 27, 2015 at 8:39 PM


      Yes insurance can be expensive but you’ll be really happy you have it if you ever need it.

  8. Avatar Sean Cooper, Financial Journalist on March 1, 2015 at 5:22 PM

    Great article. Although many people loathe insurance, it’s a necessary evil like taxes. When choosing an insurance policy, it may be worth going with an individual plan over a group plan. Here’s an article I wrote about this: https://www.ratesupermarket.ca/blog/why-your-disability-coverage-may-not-be-enough/

    • Avatar Barry Choi on March 1, 2015 at 7:44 PM


      Yes everyone needs insurance even if you don’t want it. Fortunately my work insurance allows me to extended my coverage but if I ever left I would need an individual plan.

  9. Avatar Bob on March 22, 2015 at 4:31 PM

    If you have no dependents, how does a life insurance policy give you peace of mind?

    • Avatar Barry Choi on March 22, 2015 at 5:06 PM


      Fair point, many people are worriers and they would like to leave something behind to their designated beneficiary.

  10. Avatar Jeff Romansky on July 20, 2015 at 9:42 AM

    Bob, I would never say that Life Insurance is a must for someone without dependents. However, the one benefit to purchase life insurance would be for future insurability. Obviously, this would only be if the person is looking to start a family. They could purchase a small Term 10 policy today for a very small cost and exchange it for a brand new Term 20 without any underwriting in the first 5 or 7 years of owning the policy. This exchange feature is offered through many of the large insurance carriers in Canada today. Just something to consider…

    • Avatar Barry Choi on July 20, 2015 at 9:44 AM


      Yes that’s a great point. Life insurance is cheaper in your younger years and there’s always options to change your coverage later.

  11. […] policy is to stop procrastinating and go to an advisor to talk to them about your options, says Barry Choi. He mentions that a lot of Canadians don’t want to talk about life insurance because of the […]

  12. Avatar Paul Jones on January 20, 2021 at 11:07 AM

    Hi Barry,
    I totally agree with you on those 5 must have insurance policies. I am from Quebec, and there, the homeowners insurance is not mandatory. This is for me totally unsane, but it is how it is, and every year we have people unable to repay their damages because of that, always families falling into drama…
    So thanks for your content, it is important to remind that insurance is a protection and not only a cost.
    Take care,

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