Rozenn Potin | Journalist
For close to 100,000 Canadians, fall means getting ready to head south for the winter. If you're one of those lucky few, make sure you're properly prepared.
Christine Couture, a consulting nurse for Desjardins Travel Insurance, outlines the 3 essential points to cover concerning your health and insurance so you can leave with peace of mind.
1. Check your insurance needs
Travel insurance only covers accidents or sudden, unforeseeable health issues. It doesn't offer the continuity of care covered under your provincial health plan.
To find out more, check out Healthcare insurance: 4 things to know before you head south
To be eligible for travel insurance, you must:
- Be covered under the provincial health plan
- Not exceed the number of covered days
- Check the number of days stipulated in your travel insurance policy to make sure you're covered for the entire duration of your trip
- Check the contract's exclusions regarding any injuries or health conditions that aren't stable before you leave on your trip. Normally your health has to be stable anywhere between 30 days and a year before you head out. Any expenses incurred during the trip for an unstable health condition will not be covered.*
2. Get a check-up
See a doctor before you go
Even though it's not mandatory, it's highly recommended so you can make sure you don't have any health conditions that put you at risk. Some people avoid seeing their doctor for fear of being "diagnosed." But better to hear it now than after you've left the country.
Confirm your insurability
Provide honest answers when you complete the medical questionnaire for those 61 and over purchasing life insurance. A false statement could result in the cancellation of your insurance.
3. Prepare your travel "kit"
Make sure your vaccines are up to date
If you go to a special travel clinic, they'll tell you what vaccines are required for the country where you'll be spending the winter.
Even if there are no mandatory vaccines for the area you'll be visiting--like Florida, for instance--it's a good idea to get your usual booster shots, because you're still exposed to the flu, tetanus and hepatitis.
- Make sure to pack enough of your usual medications (and even a bit more just in case your return is delayed)
- Leave your medications in their original packaging in case of any problems at customs
- For additional security, put some medication in your luggage and some in your carry-on baggage
- Wear a bracelet for specific conditions like allergies, diabetes, etc. You can easily purchase one at the drugstore and it's really helpful to let people know your condition in case you're in an accident or become unconscious.
To learn more, read How to minimize the stress of a long stay in the United States
Some general travel tips
Stretch your legs
If you're going to be sitting for a long period of time, you might want to wear compression stockings to prevent circulation problems and blood clots.
- Flying: change positions every 2 hours, walk around a bit and stay hydrated
- Driving: stop every 3 or 4 hours to stretch your legs
Call your travel assistance service as soon as possible (or ask someone to do it for you) within 24 hours to:
- Be directed to a healthcare establishment to get the right healthcare for your medical condition
- Get the services of a translator or interpreter
- Avoid having to pay a deposit or total expenses. If you don't contact the travel assistance service right away, penalties can be as much as 30% of the first $10,000 reimbursed.
Desjardins members get the exclusive advantage of travel assistance free of charge. Accessible at any time, it includes expert advice, coordination services and useful information.
*Refer to the policy or contact the insurer to find out the applicable definitions and periods.