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Snowbird travel insurance – what you need to know

As a snowbird, travel insurance can give you the peace of mind you need to freely enjoy your winter getaway – get a personalized quote with us today in just a few steps.

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This post was originally published on October 22, 2022, and was updated on April 17, 2024.

Planning to escape the cold, Canadian winter by heading down south? 

While a seasonal getaway should be a time for relaxation, you’ll also want to prepare for the worst – just in case. So here’s what you need to know about travel insurance for snowbirds.

Key takeaways on snowbird travel insurance

  1. If you're heading down south to escape the winter cold, you may need snowbird travel insurance. This is a special type of travel policy that accounts for the specific circumstances of a snowbird, such as older age and an extended trip duration.

  2. The most common coverage on a snowbird policy is travel medical insurance. This can include protection for hospitalization, prescription drugs, and more. You can also purchase plans with extended coverage, including trip cancellation and trip interruption, as well as baggage loss insurance.

  3. Be sure to pay attention to all the terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy. For instance, you'll want to make sure your insurer can cover you for claims related to pre-existing conditions (if you have any). 

  4. Travel insurance might not be the only type of coverage you'll need. Before taking off, look into rental car insurance, cottage insurance, and tenant insurance to make sure you're adequately prepared. 

What is snowbird travel insurance?

Snowbird travel insurance is a type of travel policy, designed specifically to meet the needs of snowbirds during their winter vacation. These plans are typically intended for seniors and account for the extended time you'll be staying away from home. 

Common types of travel insurance for snowbirds

When it comes to travel insurance, the most common coverage on a policy is medical insurance. Snowbird travel plans typically provide funds for the following needs:

  • Hospitalization and treatment
  • Medical appliances
  • Ambulance services
  • Physician services 
  • Prescription drugs
  • Emergency dental work
  • Emergency return to Canada
  • Repatriation of remains (in case of death)

All-inclusive policies also tend to provide coverage for trip cancellation and interruption, as well as baggage loss and delay. If you don’t already have these coverages included in your travel package (and you want the protection), you can purchase them as standalone products.

What doesn't snowbird travel insurance cover?

Every policy is different, so to find out what your plan doesn't cover, be sure to read all the terms and conditions carefully – here are a few expenses that usually don't fall under snowbird travel insurance:

  • Elective medical procedures 
  • Regular check-ups
  • Non-emergency dental work

Get snowbird travel insurance with us today.

In just a few steps, you can get a customized travel insurance quote to fulfill all your snowbird coverage needs.

Common snowbird travel insurance mistakes

One of the biggest travel insurance mistakes you can make is not reading your policy correctly. Every carrier is different, and you wouldn’t want your claim to be denied when you need it the most. Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking for the right snowbird travel insurance for yourself:

Single-trip vs. multi-trip plans – Many snowbird policies are multi-trip plans, meaning you’ll be covered for several trips during a set period of time. But because every insurer is different, make sure to double-check your policy before you plan a short visit home in the middle of your getaway. 

Time limits – Yes, snowbird travel insurance is supposed to be designed for long-term vacations, but there can still be caps on the length of stay that’s allowed. Make sure your policy aligns with your travel plans – you wouldn’t want to be uninsured during the last few days of your trip. 

Age limits – Because old age statistically leads to more health complications, some insurers offer travel insurance plans, exclusive to seniors. It may be more difficult to get approval for a conventional package, so be sure to research all your available options. 

Pre-existing conditions – If you have a pre-existing condition, travel insurance just got a little more complicated. Some insurers may only provide coverage if your condition is proven to be stable, or you may need to look into a specialized package – it’s a good idea to talk to an agent about your case before making the purchase. 

READ: Life insurance for pre-existing conditions – what you need to know

Aside from travel insurance mistakes, one common home insurance mistake you could be making as a snowbird is not informing your insurer of your vacancy. Different home insurance companies have different rules when it comes to insuring vacant properties, and you wouldn't want a claim to be denied because you forgot to give your provider a quick call. 

How much does snowbird travel insurance cost?

Because of the extended time you'll be spending away, the cost of snowbird insurance is typically more expensive than coverage for a conventional getaway. Expect to pay upwards of $500 for a policy – with the following factors contributing to your travel insurance quote:

Trip length – It's no surprise that taking a longer trip results in more expensive travel insurance. With a longer duration, you'll need more coverage.

Age – Old age comes with higher premiums, due to the increased statistical risk factors with making a health-related claim. 

Pre-existing conditions – Unfortunately, living with a pre-existing condition tends to increase your rate when it comes to travel insurance.

Destination – Unsurprisingly, the location you're travelling to has an impact on your travel insurance premium. Visiting areas with expensive healthcare or high crime rates can hike up your premium. 

Policy coverages – An all-risk plan will be more expensive than one that only provides medical coverage. The added peace of mind doesn't come without a cost.

Policy deductible – If your plan has a deductible, setting a higher amount can lower your rate. Keep in mind, however, that you'll need to pay more out-of-pocket if you need to make a claim.

Can you get snowbird insurance after leaving Canada?

While some insurers still allow you to purchase coverage after you've taken off, it's always best to make sure you're adequately insured ahead of time. You could face restrictions, such as an inability to make a claim for the first 48 hours after purchasing your policy. And if you find yourself in a medical emergency during this time, you'll be dealing with all the bills on your own.

COVID-19 and snowbird travel insurance

Does snowbird travel insurance cover COVID-19 implications? This depends on the exact parameters of your policy, but many travel insurance companies now offer packages that include the unique risks of travel during this time – such as expenses related to quarantine and treatment. It's up to you to find the right plan for your needs, so be sure to research thoroughly and read the fine print. 

Snowbird travel insurance companies in Canada

Not all travel insurance companies offer specialized snowbird packages – instead, you can use a regular travel policy for your winter getaway if your insurer allows you to do so. But to make your search easier, here are some providers that offer ideal snowbird plans for Canadians: 

Blue Cross – You can get up to $5 million in emergency healthcare coverage, as well as protection against baggage loss, trip cancellation, and trip delay if you select the package plus plan. 

Desjardins – You can also receive up to $5 million in emergency healthcare coverage (along with 24/7 travel assistance help) with Desjardins. And if you're under the age of 61, you won't be required to answer any medical questions. 

Medipac – Endorsed by the Canadian Snowbird Association, you can increase the benefit on your plan to $5 million USD which also includes coverage for COVID-19. And the provider insures most travellers with pre-existing conditions, as long as they're controlled and stabilized. 

Other types of insurance for snowbirds

Travel insurance isn’t the only type of coverage that can protect you financially during your winter getaway – let’s take a look at a few auto and home insurance options you can consider. 

Rental car insurance – If you’re looking to rent a vehicle during your winter getaway, purchasing coverage from the rental company won’t be cheap. Instead, check to see if you have an endorsement on your personal policy that extends your own auto insurance to rental vehicles. If not, maybe you have credit card rental car insurance available to you – check the terms and benefits of your cards. 

Cottage insurance – If you’re a snowbird who takes a trip down to the cottage every winter, you’ll want to make sure your second home is adequately protected. Seasonal property insurance provides the same coverage as a conventional home policy, and it also accounts for increased risks while it’s vacant.

Tenant insurance – Renting a property comes with its own set of risks, but that’s why tenant insurance exists. Not only does it protect your personal belongings, but it can also pay for new living accommodations in the event your rental home becomes inhabitable.

Travel tips for snowbirds returning to Canada

Recently, the Canada Border Services Agency and the Canadian Snowbird Association have been encouraging Canadians who have spent the winter months away to plan ahead for a smooth return back to their home country – here are some of their tips:

  • Have travel documents handy
  • Check border wait times if you're driving home
  • Advance declare with the smartphone app if you're flying home (in select cities)
  • Be prepared to declare your goods when entering the country
  • Check the rules about travelling with specialty items (i.e. medications, firearms)
  • Check the rules about importing a vehicle into Canada
  • Have the right paperwork in place if travelling with a pet
learn more about travel tips

The bottom line

Snowbird travel insurance is designed to meet your specific needs as a long-term traveller – one financial emergency can ruin your entire winter getaway, so make sure your trip is covered with the right plan ahead of time. 

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