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What is snowbird travel insurance?

Ah, Canadian winters. If you ski, they’re great but many of us try to escape the winter blahs, if possible. Those people are so-called snowbirds. And if you travel in winter (or any time, for that matter), you’ll want to investigate insuring yourself.

Snowbird insurance policies are designed for Canadians who choose to live in warmer climates for part of the year and who need broad medical coverage while they're away. In the event that some sickness or accident befalls you while you're down south, a robust snowbird policy will help protect you.

Not only will snowbird insurance pay for your medical expenses in a foreign country, but it'll also cover a variety of unfortunate travel situations, including trip cancellations or interruptions, lost or damaged baggage, and flight and travel accident expenses.

The main difference between regular travel insurance and snowbird travel insurance is the length of your trip. Most regular policies cover trips up to 21 days. Snowbird travel insurance is for much longer stays and can cover up to 212 days.

People, most often retirees, traveling to the US, to places like Florida, Arizona or California, already know that healthcare costs in those places can rack up bills into the thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Add to that the currency exchange to US dollars, and you’ll get sick all over again from the sticker shock of your hospital bill.

A good snowbird travel insurance plan will help you save money on those costs.

What does snowbird travel insurance cover?

Different providers offering snowbird travel insurance will have variations to their coverage, but most offer the following as part of their packages.

Medical Emergencies - This provides coverage for common and reasonable expenses incurred because of a medical emergency from an accident or sickness while you are away.

Prescription Drugs - Expenses for prescription medications are taken care of. In some cases, deliveries can be made directly to you from certain providers.

Trip Interruption/Cancellation - This generally covers you if a serious or unforeseen event forces you to cancel, modify, interrupt or extend the planned trip.

Lost/Stolen Baggage – Provides cover for delayed, lost, stolen or damaged baggage during your trip.

Emergency Evacuation/Repatriation - In certain situations, your insurance ensures emergency transportation back to Canada for treatment and care.

Stable pre-existing Conditions – Even if you are travelling with pre-existing conditions, most insurers will provide insurance. Some require a “stability period” where your conditions are not getting worse, cause new symptoms or require new medical treatments. Stability periods can sometimes range from 90 days to as high as 180 days.

Different types of snowbird insurance coverage

Like auto or home insurance, snowbird travel insurance comes in different forms with various types of coverage depending on your travel needs and how long you are traveling for.

Here are the most common types of snowbird travel insurance coverages offered by Canadian travel insurance providers.

Why you’ll love using LowestRates.ca to find cheap snowbird insurance quotes.

Factors that affect your snowbird travel insurance quotes

Some of the factors that determine the cost of your snowbird travel insurance premiums include:

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Frequently asked questions about snowbird travel insurance

How much snowbird travel insurance coverage is enough?

It's smart to go with a snowbird policy that offers at least a few million dollars worth of coverage. Most snowbird policies range from $1 million to $5 million.

What's a stability period?

'Stability period' clauses apply to snowbird insurance applicants with pre-existing medical conditions. A 'stability period' is a predetermined amount of time stated in the policy where a medical condition reported by the policyholder must not have changed. These periods usually range from 7 to 365 days, depending on the specific condition and the insurer underwriting the policy.

How much does snowbird travel insurance cost?

Snowbird travel insurance costs vary depending on your trip length, age, pre-existing health conditions and various other factors. Different companies also offer different rates, which is why comparing travel insurance quotes is the best way to find the best rates.

Based on an analysis conducted on our internal data on snowbird insurance, we have found that a snowbird between the age group 55 to 64 years and no pre-existing health conditions, who travelled to the U.S. from January 2023-May 2023, paid an average premium of $535 for the travel period. Snowbird with pre-existing conditions, who travelled in the same duration, paid an average premium of $739 for the travel period.

My credit card has travel insurance benefits, why do I still need to buy snowbird travel insurance?

Some credit cards offer truly great travel rewards such as annual travel insurance, but often the limits on the coverage require you to top up your travel insurance to ensure you’re adequately protected. If you’re not sure, talk to your credit card provider so you can understand exactly what you are covered for and for how much.

Does OHIP cover me when I travel outside of Ontario?

The Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) pays for most of your health care costs when you are outside of Ontario but still in Canada. OHIP only pays for some services when you travel outside of Canada, which is why it is best to top up with snowbird travel insurance when you leave the country.

Snowbird travel insurance news

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*Shoppers who obtained a property quote on LowestRates.ca from January to December 2021 saved an average of 31%. The average savings percentage represents the difference between the shoppers’ average lowest quoted premium and the average of the second and third lowest quoted premiums generated by LowestRates.ca. Excludes tenant and condo insurance.