Health Insurance for Snowbirds: What Are Your Options?

Posted on December 18, 2018

For those tired of long cold Canadian winters traveling south is a sunny prospect. It can also be an expensive one if you do so without any health insurance to make sure you're covered if something should happen while you're out of the country.

Whether you sprain an ankle, eat some bad clams or have a serious emergency it's essential to have the right insurance so you don't lose your shirt and your home trying to get the medical attention and care needed.

Keep reading to learn some of the options for health insurance for snowbirds.

Health Insurance for Snowbirds Is Crucial

When looking for coverage while away for months at a time you need health insurance that's tailored to you. It's not the same as taking a weekend to shop across the border or going for a week to see Mount Rushmore. 

You need to get health insurance that's geared towards snowbirds to ensure you're covered for any situation that arises without any confusion or difficulty when you do need to use it.

You don't want to find out that you aren't covered because you didn't get the proper insurance for your situation.

All Health Insurance Not Created Equally

It's important to pick the right plan for you and your circumstances rather than just go with the first policy you see. There are some things that you need to take into consideration when choosing a travel or health insurance plan.

  • Your age and how long you'll be out of the country.
  • Will you be out of the country for one chunk of time or traveling back and forth to Canada throughout the winter?
  • Are there pre-existing medical conditions and are those conditions considered stable? 
  • Are you taking medications and how long have they been stable?

Your eligibility for coverage can be affected by these factors, especially if you are older than the age set by the company. Medical questionnaires and documentation may be required depending on how old you are and the terms of the policy.

Some pre-existing conditions are not covered when you get older. Just because you were covered last year doesn't mean you will automatically qualify for the same coverage this year.

If there are changes in your health, medications or medical condition you may need to be stable for a minimum period of time before you'll be able to get proper coverage.

Are You Traveling Once or More Often?

There are two main types of policies to cover you depending on whether you're traveling just once or will be making trips back and forth throughout the year.

Insurance for One Trip

If you are heading south for the entire winter, without coming home for Christmas or other short periods of time than a single trip policy is probably the one you want. With this type of policy, you'll be covered for up to 212 days if you live in Ontario or NFLD and 183 days for residents of other provinces and territories. These are consecutive days not accumulative.

Traveling Multiple Times

If you plan on traveling back and forth to Canada throughout the year than a multi-trip health insurance policy is more geared towards your needs. There will be limits on the amount of time you can stay south of the border each time so be aware of the deadlines to return. Usually anywhere from 9 to 60 days.

You'll lose your coverage if you don't stick to the terms and return to Canada for at least a short period of time.

Change of Plan TopUps

Many multi-trip policies will allow you to purchase top-up coverage if your travel plans change and you want to stay longer than originally declared. Each policy has different terms so be sure to read the fine print.

Some will require you to make changes and top-up before the coverage of your original plan starts. Others are a little more flexible and allow you to add coverage if you change your itinerary during your trip.

Cost and Deductibles

The cost and deductibles attached are unique to each policy. Your insurance broker will be able to walk you through the details of each one and help you figure out which one is right for your situation.

Some policies will give you a buy-out option for the deductible. Most policies have a deductible of anywhere from $500-$1000. Should you require medical attention you'll be responsible for the amount of the deductible and then the insurance policy will cover the rest of the costs as stipulated within it.

Eligibility and Terms

Each insurance company and policy will have their own terms and eligibility requirements that you need to be aware of and adhere to.

You'll need to remain covered by the government health care program in your province. Not maintaining your coverage by the province you normally live in could lead to ineligibility and having a snowbird health insurance claim being denied.

Your claim may be denied if you do not declare all pre-existing health conditions. You must ensure you apply for health insurance prior to traveling and that you will be covered for your entire trip. Make sure you know the terms and have a policy that meets your needs.

Medical Questionnaire and Declaration

Most policies require mature applicants (age 60 and over) to complete a detailed medical questionnaire. While it may not say to have your doctor sign off on the forms it's in your best interest to do so to avoid any confusion or denial for non-declaration of pre-existing conditions later.

You'll be asked about medication, medical conditions and the status of your health. It may include questions about your heart and lung health, blood pressure, diabetes, smoking and alcohol consumption, medical history of strokes, heart attacks or cancer.

If pre-existing conditions are not stable you will have difficulty getting coverage for it. Medication changes, medical status fluctuations, and unstable vitals within the past three months to three years can affect your eligibility. Make sure you disclose and discuss any issues before getting the policy. 

You don't want to need your insurance only to find out you're denied because you didn't understand the fine print. 

Health Insurance for Snowbirds is Essential

When you're traveling to get away from the winter blues it's essential that you make sure you're covered. You want to enjoy your time away and have the peace of mind to know you have coverage when you need it. Health insurance for snowbirds can give you that peace.

For a free quote on any insurance needs, contact us today.

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