Aside from experience, wisdom, and perspective, seniors in Canada also have a day that’s all their own.
The middle aged don’t have one and neither do Millennials. Seniors in Canada, however, do and they’ve earned it: an official day, National Seniors Day, that occurs every October 1 and is recognized by the Government of Canada.
It’s estimated that one out of every six people in Canada are at least 65 years of age and this is expected to grow in the coming years as the youngest baby boomers hit this important milestone. And, as this population increases, so too will the number of people who follow the sun’s warmth when winter approaches.
How Many Canadians Enjoy Their Winters Down South?
Already, snowbirds from Canada flock to the U.S. to shake off winter’s chill. It’s estimated that close to 500,000 snowbirds spend a portion of their winter in Florida, and that’s not even counting those who favour other popular snowbird destinations like Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, California or Texas. It’s expected that snowbird travellers will grow in numbers by 2 percent annually.
What’s it all mean? From our standpoint here at InsuranceHotline.com, it means there are a whole lot of potentially new travellers who may be unfamiliar with snowbird travel insurance. We’d like to change that, especially now that the dog days of summer are over and there’s a crisp chill in the air.
What follows is our take on the basics of snowbird travel insurance rolled up into one handy resource.
The Nuts and Bolts of Snowbird Travel Insurance
Snowbird travel insurance is coverage that is designed specifically for older travellers, who may or may not have pre-existing conditions, and who typically travel for longer periods of time than their younger counterparts.
Snowbird insurance for medical emergencies
At minimum, snowbird insurance usually provides coverage for the costs that come with a medical emergency when travelling. For every traveller, no matter how old or young, this is arguably the most important facet of travel insurance because the health care coverage you enjoy at home, does not travel well. If you fall ill or are injured while on holiday, your government health insurance may only cover up to 10 percent of your total out-of-country emergency health care costs. That’s it, and, that’s the best-case scenario because some provinces cover less or nothing at all. For this reason alone, it's essential then that you protect your trip, your health, and your finances and secure snowbird travel insurance before you take flight.
There are also add-ons that can be purchased and bundled with your snowbird insurance including trip cancellation, trip interruption, and baggage insurance should your luggage be lost or stolen. Alternately, you can buy one all-inclusive package that features all the main types of coverage you could ever need to protect your travels.
Snowbird insurance for trip cancellations and trips interrupted
Trip cancellation insurance is often bundled together with trip interruption coverage. Together these two coverages ensure that you're financially protected if you need to cancel your trip before you leave or are forced to cut your trip short. It provides compensation for travel expenses that are non-refundable or prepaid, for situations that are out of your control and are unexpected and unplanned.
For example, you'll usually be covered if there is a death in your family, you're called to jury duty, you suffer a sudden injury or illness that prevents you from travelling, or even if your home suffers a catastrophic loss like fire or flooding. It can also protect you if your travel plans are affected by severe weather like a hurricane, earthquake, or volcanic eruption.
Getting Snowbird Insurance Will Likely Require a Medical Questionnaire
Whether you’re fit as a fiddle or have a pre-existing medical condition, as a snowbird you’ll likely need to complete a medical questionnaire about your health history and any prescriptions you’re currently taking.
It’s important that you don’t guess at the answers to the questions or gloss over them as incomplete or inaccurate answers will jeopardize your coverage when you need it most. If in doubt seek the answers out and contact your doctor or pharmacist for the information.
Want to travel but have a pre-existing condition?
For the most part, having a pre-existing condition isn’t a showstopper for getting snowbird travel insurance. That’s not to say there aren’t some conditions that would be, like being terminally ill or having cancer that has spread to other parts of your body, but in general, having a pre-existing condition doesn’t mean you have to stay home. It will all depend on whether or not your condition is considered stable.
Who determines if your condition is stable? In short, your travel insurer. Even if you and your doctor consider your condition under control and stable, your insurer may not. In fact, in the eyes of the insurance company your condition may be viewed as unstable for something as simple as a change in the dosage of a medication you’re already taking. The insurer may feel that not enough time has passed to say it with confidence. Some insurers may need your condition to be stable for three months prior to your trip, while others may require as long as a year. The length of time needed will depend on the severity of the condition, the likelihood of complications, and your age, for example.
The most important thing about travelling with a pre-existing condition is to be honest. Fudging the dates or omitting key details about your condition will come back to haunt you should you need to submit a claim.
Ways to Save on Your Snowbird Travel Insurance
Like your auto insurance or home insurance, there’s a lot that factors into the premium you pay and snowbird travel insurance is no different. With travel insurance factors like your age, health, trip duration, and sometimes even your destination all plays a role. There are ways to save though:
1. Buy an annual, multi-trip policy
If you’re a frequent flyer and travel two or more times a year, an annual, multi-trip policy will likely save you money over buying a single trip policy each time you vacation. Multiple-trip policies mean that for one annual rate, you will have emergency medical travel insurance coverage for every trip you take within the year after the policy is issued.
2. Buy one policy for both you and your travelling companion
Look at getting one policy that covers everyone you’re travelling with, rather than buying one policy per person. Family rates are often available and are usually cheaper
3. Lock in your snowbird insurance rate early
Travel insurers know that snowbirds are planners and often offer the best rates towards the end of the summer and early fall. Some even offer “early bird” discounts. Once you know when and where you’ll be travelling, shop around for your coverage.
4. Consider a plan with a deductible
With travel insurance, people often look for policies that don’t have a deductible. Yet, if you go with a policy that has a deductible, you’ll pay less for your coverage. Of course, this is the amount you’ll have to pay if you need to submit a claim, which is why it’s important to select a deductible that you can comfortably afford. For travel insurance, deductibles typically range between $250 to $500.
5. Shop around
The price of snowbird insurance for Canadians can vary wildly, which is why it pays to shop around. But don’t just buy your coverage on price alone. It’s equally important to compare policy options and coverages as well because every policy is different. You’ll want to review what’s included, what’s not, as well as the policy’s limits (i.e. the maximum that will be paid out).
At InsuranceHotline.com, we help make it easy for you. In a single search, you can compare multiple rates and policies from Canada’s top insurance providers.