A Quick Guide to Canadian Snowbird Travel Insurance
Tired of living in the cold? Wish you were someplace warmer? If you are unattached to Canada’s harsh winter season, it may be in your best interest to consider spending that time abroad. And while having a few yearly getaways is important for your well-being, it is equally as important to make sure those trips are well insured and protected. Insuring the snowbird lifestyle has never been easier, and this form of travel insurance is becoming more popular with seniors and northern vacationers alike. This article is a short and simple guide to help you understand Canadian snowbird insurance and make the right decision.
BEST SNOWBIRD TRAVEL INSURANCE PLANS IN CANADA
- SNOWBIRD COVERAGE OFFERS
- Medical Plan
- Emergency medical care, health follow-up in Canada
- Package Plus Plan
- Emergency medical care, health follow-up in Canada
- Trip cancellation/interruption protected, baggage protection
- WHY YOU SHOULD GET IT
- $5,000,000 CAD in medical coverage per trip
- Hospital bills, professional medical worker fees, and emergency treatment dues are all covered
- Transportation expenses covered for visiting relatives (if hospitalized for over one week)
- $5000 CAD for driving service vehicle returns back to Canada
- $3000 CAD for meals and comfort if medical emergencies delay travel
- $2000 CAD for emergency dental operations
- Partnered with BlueCross/BlueShield (large U.S. healthcare network)
- SNOWBIRD COVERAGE OFFERS
- Medipac Annual Travel Insurance Plan
- All short trips covered within a year (23-33 days each)
- Medipac Single Trip Plan
- One trip covered within a year (1-212 days)
- WHY YOU SHOULD GET IT
- $2,000,000 - $5,000,000 USD in total coverage per trip
- Money saving incentives
- Claim free discount = up to 10% savings
- Loyalty discount = up to 8% savings
- Province-based discount = 5% savings (PEI, Nunavut, Northwest Territories, Yukon)
- Top-up option provided
- Official member of the Canadian Snowbird Association
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SNOWBIRD TRAVEL INSURANCE
What Is Snowbird Travel Insurance?
Snowbird travel insurance is a financial product for Canadian travelers that desire to move somewhere with pleasant weather during cold seasons. In most cases, it is purchasable as a bundle of policies that includes both medical and travelling expense coverage. Snowbird protection plans work to keep you financially secure during your stay abroad in the case of negative unforeseen events. Even the most basic snowbird travel insurance plans will help ease the burden of foreign medical bills, and relieve some of the stress related to travel accidents. Much like other versions of travel insurance, there is no “standard” snowbird package – your policies (and snowbird insurance premiums) will be tailored to your needs.
Why Do I Need Snowbird Travel Insurance?
If you get injured outside of your current healthcare jurisdiction, the costs for any medical procedures or pharmaceuticals won’t be automatically covered. Snowbird policies are especially important for Canadians who plan on travelling to warm parts of the U.S. during winter, since U.S. medical costs are notoriously high. Without any form of out-of-province health insurance, an unfortunate accident can easily set you back thousands of dollars in hospital bills. As a result, it is generally recommended to pick a snowbird plan that offers at least a few million dollars in total coverage – after all, insurance is all about being on the safe side.
What Are The Types of Snowbird Insurance Policies?
When travelling to a foreign destination, you can either sign a single-trip or multi-trip snowbird policy. A single-trip plan is a cheaper alternative to multi-trip offerings, but it only protects you for one annual fixed period (usually the total duration of your stay abroad). If you planned on making additional trips in the same year, a multi-trip plan may be necessary. Multi-trip plans will typically grant unlimited trip coverage for 365 days since the effective starting date of the policy, although they come with a limit on how many days you’re able to spend in one destination (generally no more than 30-60 days per location). To remedy this, some snowbird insurance providers offer “top ups,” which allow you to pay in advance for additional days on the end of your stay. You could even find snowbird travel insurance plans that allow you to buy top ups from your destination – although these are likely offered at a higher fee.
How Much Does Snowbird Travel Insurance Cost in Canada?
The cost of a snowbird travel insurance policy is reflected in its insurance premium. Theoretically, the higher your snowbird insurance premium is, the greater the amount of coverage you will have. Most importantly however, there is no “one size fits all” snowbird premium because every traveller is unique and has their own separate needs. As a result, it is important to search for snowbird travel insurance plans that best suit your travelling requirements, not necessarily whichever one has the lowest premium. Another important factor to consider about snowbird insurance policies is the deductible amount in a claims situation. Snowbird providers will seek a deductible amount that you pay out of pocket for any medical/travel related expenses before they pay for the remaining balance. Deductibles however can be agreed upon early for your advantage, since locking in a high deductible can significantly lower your insurance premium. On the other hand, if you suspect you could run out of short term funds on your trip abroad, the other option is to lock in a low or zero-deductible (although this would drive up the insurance premium as a result).
OUR THOUGHTS ON CANADIAN SNOWBIRD TRAVEL INSURANCE
Snowbird travel insurance is the ultimate travel insurance for senior cold weather escapees. It’s the ideal coverage plan for retirees that plan to leave the country for a generous period of time, since it puts an emphasis on medical security. If you don’t have any obligations to endure a cold Canadian winter, why stay? Take advantage of snowbird travel insurance and join the thousands of Canadian retirees who temporarily migrate south for a warmer climate. The best part is, you could insure more than one trip per year under the same plan, if you plan on travelling frequently. Don’t leave your health expenses up to chance – make sure you stay covered whenever you depart the country.
Considering a home equity line of credit to add a much needed boost to your pension-based income? Read up on reverse mortgages instead on our article about Mortgages/Reverse Mortgages
Snowbird Travel Insurance Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What affects my snowbird insurance premium?
The five main factors that determine your snowbird travel insurance premium are age, current health status, travel destination, duration of stay, and the agreed upon deductible. Statistically, the older you are the more likely you are to fall victim to health complications. Your current health (and any future projections made about it) is also a major price determinant; if you’re already dealing with significant health issues, your snowbird insurance provider will see that as an expense they will likely need to cover abroad. Your travel destination’s importance is weighted on the cost of healthcare in the foreign country. A country like the U.S. features very high healthcare costs relative to other nations, so naturally this would increase your premium. Your trip duration is important to consider as well since it also represents the amount of time your insurance provider needs to be able to support your claims. Naturally, a longer time period puts you at a higher risk of making a snowbird insurance claim, so premiums will rise. Lastly, a snowbird travel insurance deductible can serve to make your insurance premium more/less competitive. If you’re willing to accept a higher deductible on claims, you will be rewarded with a substantially lower insurance premium.
Am I eligible for snowbird travel insurance in Canada?
In order to become eligible for any snowbird insurance policies, you’ll have to meet a few requirements. While some snowbird insurance providers in Canada will ask for specific information, there are a few criteria that you can universally expect from any plan. Snowbird insurance providers will only offer you protection if you sign a deal before making a departure – so all coverage negotiations must be made on home soil. Furthermore, your coverage must cover the entire duration of your trip abroad, and you also need to be backed by provincial coverage in your home area. Occasionally, your insurance provider will be able to recover expenses from your provincial healthcare plan, so being insured in this way is a necessity. Last but not least, to achieve the best conditions possible for both yourself and your snowbird insurance provider, you need to avoid misrepresentation on any application forms – most importantly medical.
What are the medical requirements for snowbird travel insurance in Canada?
Since snowbird travel insurance plans are very popular with senior travelers, most providers will require you to fill out a comprehensive medical questionnaire. Typically the questionnaire will involve common health risk conditions that will ultimately factor into your insurance premium. Each question on the questionnaire will have a different weighting, although some universally important (and frequently spotted) questions involve: smoker/non-smoker status, vital organ conditions, existence of medically treated diseases, history of cancer within the family, and blood pressure levels.
How do I make a snowbird insurance claim?
In the vast majority of cases, your Canadian snowbird travel insurance provider will ask that you reach out to them first – prior to seeking out medical attention. This is because your provider likely has deals with certain medical centres in foreign areas that give them preferred rates. Unless you are experiencing a critical medical emergency, neglecting to contact your insurance provider first can result in claim denial. To begin the claiming process, your provider will directly mail you a “Claims Kit” that includes all of the forms necessary to start filing your situation. These forms usually request personal documents, identification, and paperwork/proof related to your incident so that payments can be expensed. In terms of who pays the medical bills, your insurance provider will likely coordinate with medical centres to pay off expensive health treatments for you, while smaller expenses may be reimbursed down the road.
What can I bring into the US from Canada?
United States import duties on specific items involve a set of very complicated rules. Due to their likelihood of being changed on a regular basis, it’s hard to find reliable information on the topic. Given this, the best places to check for import news on certain products are U.S. government official websites. As a rule of thumb, the one protocol that never changes in a border crossing is declaration of goods. If you plan to carry your luggage with you into the country, you need to fill out a CBP-CD (Customs and Border Protection – Customs Declaration) form that correctly identifies what you’re bringing in. If instead you expect to receive your luggage into the U.S. through mail, you’d fill out a CBP-DFEUA (Customs and Border Protection – Declaration for Free Entry of Unaccompanied Articles) form. While there are some minor restrictions on household items (electronics, clothing, furniture, decorations, toys, etc.) in most cases those kinds of products are allowed – as long as you have no intent to sell.
Medication is a more complex category, as it follows a more strict set of rules; the best advice we can offer on this topic is to pack no more than a 90-day supply of prescription, accurately labelled, and doctor note-signed pharmaceuticals in your hand luggage. If you plan on staying in the country for longer than 3 months and need a prescription fill up, you could get a medical package delivered by mail as long as it’s properly declared and accepted at the border.
Alcohol, tobacco, and cash are transferable across the border under a certain limit. If you exceed their respective limits, you’ll be liable to pay duties on every surplus unit. Each 21 year old adult is limited to a litre of alcohol of any kind, 100 cigars, 200 cigarettes, and up to $10,000 in cash (any cash amount higher than this MUST be declared).
For more restricted categories, do note that illegal narcotics and recreational drugs are not allowed past the border under any circumstance, such as marijuana, absinthe, and non-prescription painkillers. Food is also a highly restricted category, and we advise you not to bring in your own food under most circumstances to avoid border issues. Keep in mind that food is a commodity, and you can easily find grocery stores once you cross into the United States.
How do I import a car from Canada to the US?
If this is something you’re seriously considering, know that the process is neither simple nor cheap. Before you begin the process of registering your Canadian vehicle under the United States rulings, make sure you acquire written approval at the border first – where you must declare your intention to convert the car. Since Canada is a part of NAFTA, you’d most likely be exempted from paying a duty on the importing of one car.
To proceed from this point on, you will need to ensure that your automobile is compliant with US safety and emissions regulatory standards. Since you’re importing from Canada, your car should already be manufactured for road safety – check for a FMVSS or CMVSS sticker somewhere on the vehicle, which signifies that the car is safe to drive. If by unlikely chance your car is not certified by FMVSS/CMVSS, importing it may not be worth the effort. Additionally, your vehicle must also have a solid emission control system. Emission control system standards are practically identical between Canada and the US, so as long as you can prove it with an EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) or similar label, you should have no issues meeting the US emission requirements.
Depending on which state you choose to reside in during your snowbird period, you may need to acquire a US driver’s licence if they don’t carry over your Canadian one. Since you’re already a registered driver in Canada, the application process should be fairly easy, assuming you’re equipped with multiple pieces of personal ID and are willing to pay any associated bills plus renewal fees. You’ll also need to sign up for US car insurance, since you’ll be driving outside your Canadian car insurance company’s zone of influence. Tip: You might snag a better deal on car insurance if you explain your snowbird situation to your insurer (you’d only be driving the car for a few months during the year).
Once all the relevant paperwork has been signed, you finally qualify for the official inspection in order to become US registered. If your car passes the test, you’re eligible to receive a pair of US licence plates. Of course, if you’re looking to avoid all of this hassle, you could always just buy another car that’s already registered under the United States.