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Travel insurance for snowbirds

Proper planning for a trip abroad is very important given the complications that health status can cause during your stay. Choose travel insurance that will give you peace of mind—this means coverage in the event of disease, accident, burns, infection and, above all, heart attack. The list of unforeseeable medical incidents goes on.

Snowbirds generally travel south to destinations such as Florida, Texas, Cuba and Mexico for several weeks. This lengthy stay increases the chance of a health-related incident occurring. Regardless of the health status before traveling—whether problematic or stable—travelers are exposed to risks that can have a significant financial ramifications. You will find below the details of our snowbird insurance, which covers medical care received outside the policyholder’s province of residence:

Relying solely on your provincial health insurance plan to cover the cost of hospitalization abroad is not enough. The following figures put actual healthcare costs into perspective in relation to the compensation offered by a Canadian public plan:

  1. For five (5) days of emergency hospitalization and surgical care in a Florida private medical clinic, the tab can be around Can$50,000. The Régie d’assurance maladie du Quebec (RAMQ) only offers compensation of approximately Can$800.
  2. For ten (10) days of hospitalization to treat a viral or bacterial infection, it is estimated that the incurred expenses, in the United States, would total approximately Can$10,000. RAMQ will reimburse hospital services according to predetermined amounts, i.e.:
    1. up to Can$100 per day of hospitalization
    2. up to Can$50 per day for care received at the hospital’s outpatient clinic
  3. The cost of air repatriation from Florida to a Canadian Province varies between Can$20,000 and Can$25,000. This assistance is not covered by provincial healthcare plans.

Public healthcare plans will only reimburse professional healthcare fees up to amounts not exceeding the rates of these services in your Canadian province of residence, even if you paid a higher amount.

Healthcare costs outside the country are generally higher than in Quebec, Ontario and the rest of Canada. This is why it is essential to obtain private travel insurance that covers, in full or in part, expenses not covered by provincial healthcare plans. Subscribing to travel insurance before leaving can help avoid undesirable financial consequences. If you do not have private insurance, you are responsible for paying the portion of medical expenses incurred out of province not covered by your provincial plan (RAMQ, OHIP, etc.).

Holders of certain credit cards may be granted travel insurance when purchasing their trip using this payment tool. However, retired Canadians traveling during the long winter months may have pre-existing medical conditions that are subject to exclusions, limitations and particular conditions that otherwise affect their eligibility to these insurance plans.

Group insurance plans that some travelers benefit from also have restrictions concerning coverage of certain medical conditions and the duration of the trip.

Since good insurance is the basis for a successful trip, you should confirm that your current health status will be taken into account and that medical coverage will be adjusted according to the medical statement made before departure.

We strongly recommend taking out health insurance when leaving your province of residence for a few days or a few months. Without medical protection, deterioration in health, to any degree, that occurs while on your trip can turn into a financial nightmare.

Our travel insurance advisors are available to help you make a medical statement and to provide you a travel insurance option that suits your needs and budget. We can guide you through possible options and confirm how much insurance will cost for your trip.

Sans frais du Canada et des États-Unis • 9h-17h Heure de l’Est

De partout dans le monde • 9h-17h Heure de l’Est

In general, the older is the traveller, the more complex her or his medical file is. Today, medical history, treatments, medications, and medical consultation dates are facts that are taken into account for travel insurance covering pre-existing medical conditions.

A snowbird aged over 60 years old and planning to travel South again the following winter must bear in mind that the health stability factor that is taken into account for long trips usually covers the six (6) month period preceding the departure. Consequently, undergoing an annual health exam as soon as possible in the spring allows to minimize risks that someone’s medical file show a change in the health status or the onset of exclusionary medical conditions if the doctor were to make a new diagnosis or change a prescription.

Travellers must be particularly vigilant in filling out their insurance proposal with utmost accurately. Making a mistake when filling out a medical questionnaire exposes the policyholder to having his or her claim dismissed by the insurance company if an incident happens during his or her trip. In claim procedures, insurers check out medical and surgical history and compare them with the policyholder’s initial declaration.

Retaining notes on medical conditions and a copy of all the prescriptions greatly simplifies the traveller’s task when the time comes to make a medical statement to an Insurance Representative as regards to accidents or disease.

In addition, even after subscribing to travel insurance whose premium is determined according to the evaluated risk, travellers must continue to inform their Advisor of any change in the stability of their health condition or any event likely to modify their medical declaration prior to the departure date. This obligation also applies for any situation that may occur during the travelling period covered by additional insurance.

Regardless of who your insurer is, all providers have the same requirement: before receiving care, you must contact the support center using the contact information you have been provided.

The support center, open 24/7, must approve any surgical procedure or medical treatment beforehand. This requirement does not apply in extreme cases where waiting for a preliminary approval would delay a surgical procedure to correct a serious life-threatening situation.

Generally, thoroughly acknowledging all your insurance policy clauses before your departure will guarantee a better experience if you should need to use your medical insurance. If you have any doubt whatsoever about the contents of your insurance policy, you should contact your advisor to obtain further explanation so you are able to travel worry-free.

Furthermore, insurance does not generally cover medical or hospital treatments if the stay is purposed to obtain these medical or hospital services, regardless of whether or not the trip was recommended by a doctor. In other words, if you are expecting a treatment before your departure or if you plan to receive a treatment during your stay abroad, this medical treatment will not be covered. In certain cases, not meeting this requirement can void your insurance; please discuss this topic with your representative.

Multi-trip annual travel insurance can be an interesting option for snowbirds for financial reasons. Such insurance plans provide coverage, for the whole year, for an unlimited number of trips outside the policyholder’s province of residence whose duration does not exceed the selected travel period.

For example, thirty (30) days’ annual insurance can also be used for traditional, lengthy winter trips. For this, the traveler need only subscribe to additional insurance to cover from the 31st day of the trip period to the planned return date home. It is important to bear in mind that any medical incident or change in health status that occurs before the trip departure can affect eligibility or the cost of insurance premiums; this rule also applies during the first thirty (30) days, if the first part of the trip is covered by a thirty (30) day annual insurance.

Annual insurance is provides a great deal of savings for those who travel several times a year; it also makes it possible to reduce insurance premiums for long trips, since part of the premium has already been paid within the annual insurance plan. However, this type of insurance requires particular vigilance from the traveler, whose obligation to declare any change of health status is not only restricted to his or her annual insurance, but also extends to additional insurance to which he or she is subscribed in order to cover the additional period of the extended stay.

Whatever the travel plans are, taking the precaution to provide oneself with travel insurance must be seen as complementary to some good reflexes before departure:

  • Pack any medication you are likely to use
  • Find out about mandatory or recommended vaccinations for your destination
  • Ensure no travel advisory has been issued for your destination by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (travel insurance does not offer coverage to destinations with an advisory).