Pre-departure advice for Snowbirds

You’re aptly named. Once temperatures drop, you feel called to head south. You can’t help it—even during a pandemic! Since healthcare costs are very high in the United States, you want to make sure to travel knowing you’ll be covered in the event of a problem. Read this to properly prepare for your winter adventure and enjoy peace of mind for your health.

Adequate travel insurance

Travel insurance generally covers most emergency health expenses incurred while away from your home province. Make sure you have good coverage in the event of an illness or accident, as the costs can be significant. In the United States, a single night of hospitalization costs an average of US$9,300,1 and, depending on the care required, the bills can stack up very quickly.

A travel insurance policy must cover the entire trip, from the departure date to the return date in the home province. Otherwise, the policy isn’t valid.

Good to know

Are you extending your stay?

Notify your insurer as soon as possible because you may no longer be covered as of the initially scheduled return date. You would have until that date to inform them.

What about COVID-19?

Cancellation insurance normally covers you if you fall suddenly and unpredictably ill, so you may therefore be covered if you contract COVID-19 before your departure or if you’re denied boarding due to a symptom of COVID-19.

And if you’re diagnosed with COVID-19 during your trip, you could be covered for medical expenses.

Unstable injury or health disorder

The famous exclusion for unstable injuries or health disorders, also known as “pre-existing conditions” deserves to be fully understood. Did you report a health condition or disorder in your medical questionnaire and were told by your doctor you could travel? Your insurer will still determine your eligibility for this coverage because a stability period of a few months prior to departure is required.

Remember that telling your insurer about a health condition you’re aware of is vital and could save you a lot of hassle (and unexpected expenses!)

Stability is generally defined as the absence of changes in your treatments for a set period of time. The period identified by the insurer may vary depending on the traveller’s age and the product purchased. Emergency healthcare and cancellation coverage may require a different stability period, for example.

Avoid unpleasant surprises.

Read your policy carefully to ensure that any pre-existing injury or illness will be covered during the trip since exclusions and limits may vary from one insurer to another.

Medical questionnaire

To determine your eligibility and the premium you’ll pay for your travel insurance, you’ll likely have to complete a medical questionnaire. The accuracy of the information provided is paramount. Feel free to talk to your doctor to get the facts straight. A misrepresentation could result in the denial of benefits and even the complete cancellation of the contract.

The factors that could influence the premium are your age, overall health (for people 61 and over), length of stay and the coverage amounts chosen. The trip destination and your past claims may not be considered.

Limit of a long stay abroad

To be eligible for travel insurance, you must be covered by the health and hospital insurance plans in your home province for the duration of the trip. To be covered by your provincial health insurance plan, you must be in your home province more than half the year. If your total absences exceed 182 or 212 days (depending on your province of residence) per calendar year, i.e., from January 1 to December 31 of the same year,2 you cease to be covered by RAMQ or OHIP for the year you were away.

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