Whether or not to take out medical insurance when you are a retired traveler is a question that is becoming less of an issue in 2018. Travel insurance is perceived as must-have protection for any Snowbird traveler, whether they are traveling for a short or a long time. Irrespective of the destination, be it Florida, Arizona, or Mexico, the reality of health costs abroad is a serious consideration. Bad experiences shared between Snowbirds or dramatic situations that have made the headlines, they are recurrent problems. Canadian retirees now better understand the financial risks of hospitalization in the United States or elsewhere.
Every year, many Snowbirds think about their next trip, either in the initial phase of budget planning or as a last-minute decision. The choice of travel insurance invariably arises.
Fewer retired travelers now perceive travel insurance as a useless expense. The most refractory still argue the following reasons for not taking out travel insurance:
– They only predict a short stay;
– They are in good health;
– They do not think they will have new complications to a pre-existing state of health;
– They will not participate in risky activities;
– The insurance premium is too high, and they prefer to take the risk.
The reality of travel can quickly catch up with such travelers. A traffic accident, a fall, food poisoning, or the unforeseen occurrence of a health problem, are all events that are covered by travel insurance.
Conversely, a traveler with insurance will be ensured of having medical coverage in good standing for the duration of their stay abroad. However, meeting the eligibility criteria and accurately completing the medical questionnaire and without omission, is not a guarantee of absolute protection.
Snowbird travel insurance should reflect the state of health at all times
When establishing the travel insurance policy, it does not constitute a fixed protection in time. A travel insurance policy must reflect the pre-existing medical conditions as well as any medical conditions known on the effective date. The date upon which the policy is taken out could be several weeks or even several months before the travel insurance cover starts.
The answers to the medical questionnaire formulated on the subscription date will not always remain the same if the medical questionnaire was requested again on the effective date of the insurance. Indeed, any change in the state of health between these two dates potentially modifies the answers to the health questionnaire.
It is the insured traveler’s responsibility to contact their broker or insurance representative to inform them of any change in their state of health between the date of subscription and that of their departure on vacation. Whether it’s a medication discontinuation, a change in dosage, an emergency room consultation, or new symptoms diagnosed, it is imperative to make sure that the traveler remains eligible for the insurance cover. Some changes will have no impact. Others may cause an increased insurance premium due to the change in the period of stability for a particular medical condition. Failure to comply with this requirement could result anything directly or indirectly related to this medical condition being excluded from the insurance cover.
If a claim is made on the policy during the stay abroad, the insurer will consult the Canadian medical record of the insured. It will have consequences even if the nature of the health costs incurred is unrelated to the undeclared change in health status that occurred prior to departure. The consequences could be that the insurer will not non-reimburse the cost medical treatment incurred.
Incidence during a trip covered by two separate insurance companies
When a Snowbird opts for coverage consisting of an annual insurance and a single-trip insurance policy, each underwritten by a different insurer, a point of vigilance requires attention.
When the second insurance policy becomes effective, all medical events or changes in the state of health occurring during the period of cover provided by the first insurer is counted for the second insurer. It is, therefore, imperative to contact your broker or insurance representative during your trip. The second insurer must be told what happened during the first insurance period. Otherwise, the risk of exclusion from insurance benefits is possible.
Travel insurance never covers all situations
After making all the arrangements so that the travel insurance accurately reflects their medical history, the Snowbird traveler must keep in mind certain clauses of their insurance policy. Most travel insurance for Snowbirds establishes a list of exclusions. Some situations ensure that a claim will not be honored such as:
– Failure to submit a police report, or proof of purchase in case of theft or loss of material property;
– Any accident caused by intoxication;
– The visit to a country that is deemed to be a high-risk destination;
– Participating in some extreme sports;
Each traveler must take the time to read all exclusions from its contract. They can discuss these provisions with their insurance broker to understand the scope and implications depending on their destination, or the activities planned during their trip.
The retired Snowbird is invited to carefully read their certificate of insurance and the insurance policy. Understanding all the terms and conditions protects them from misunderstanding their medical protection. They must be proactive at the slightest change concerning their medical file. Their insurance broker is there to adjust the travel insurance to maintain eligibility and the highest level of medical coverage.