# Friday, December 13, 2013
                 
Canadian Snowbird Insurance
Many retired Canadians travel to warmer locales during the cold winter months. These Canadians are typically referred to as "snowbirds".

Snowbird travelers often spend their winters in warm southern U.S. states, with Florida being the most common destination. Other common U.S. destinations are Arizona, California and Nevada.

It is important for Canadian snowbirds to know that their provincial healthcare plan offers little (if any) coverage for medical bills incurred while traveling in the U.S. A visit to a hospital’s emergency room can cost thousands of dollars. If you end up in an American hospital for an extended period of time your bill could be well over $100,000.

Snowbirds should consider the following tips when purchasing travel insurance protection.

Single Trip versus Multi Trip Plans

Many Canadian snowbirds only travel for the winter months, in which case a single trip travel insurance plan makes sense.

However, if more than one trip per year is anticipated then a multi trip plan should be considered. Multi trip plans are good for an unlimited number of trips for a given year and are cheaper than multiple single trip plans. They can also be “topped up” with additional days of coverage if the trip length (# of days of coverage) is less than the total amount of travel time.

Coverage for Pre-Existing Conditions

Sometimes snowbirds have one or more pre-existing medical conditions.

For a pre-existing condition to be covered that condition must be considered "stabile" by the insurance company for a given amount of time (referred to as the "stability period").

The required stability period depends on the applicant’s health rating, which is determined via a medical questionnaire. The healthier a snowbird is the smaller the stability period.

All insurance companies have their own definition of "stabile" (click here for more). Generally speaking the following defines a stabile medical condition:
  • No new treatment has either been recommended or performed for the given medical condition.
  • There are no changes to any required prescription medication.
  • There are no further test results pending for the medical condition.
  • A doctor has not recommended changes to treatment or recommended further testing.
     

Be Honest When Applying for Travel Insurance

It is very important to answer all required medical questions honestly when applying for travel insurance. If you are unsure about a medical question when applying DO NOT guess at what the question is asking. Call the insurance company (or insurance broker) and request clarification about that medical question.

If a claim is made due to an unexpected illness or accident the insurance company will take a close look at the nature of the claim. If they find out that the insured did not answer all medical questions honestly then the insurance company is legally entitled to deny that claim.

It is important to know that different insurance companies all have different eligibility and medical questions. Consequently, a specific medical condition may make you ineligible for travel insurance from one company while other companies may not care about that condition. (This is where an insurance broker can be a big help, since it is the broker’s responsibility to know the differences between plans).

Shop Around for Travel Insurance

Travel insurance premiums vary from insurance company to insurance company. Depending on things such as age and the health condition of the applicant, the difference in cost can be substantial!

To get the best plan at the best price it is a good idea to get multiple quotes from different insurance companies.

You can get as many free, instant quotes for travel insurance from our web site as you want, and we offer travel insurance from four of Canada’s leading travel insurance companies.

If you have any questions about travel insurance for snowbirds you can also contact us free of charge at 1-800-474-4474.

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