Are you a snowbird preparing for flight? Read this first.

Make sure you don't end up as a headline during your trip.

Adèle Manseau | Desjardins Group

You wear the term like a badge of honour. When summer turns to fall, you feel the days getting shorter and can’t fight the urge to head south. Make sure you don’t end up as a headline during your trip by understanding these 4 essentials.

Good coverage

Travel insurance will usually cover the majority of healthcare costs anywhere in the world, unlike provincial health coverage or a group insurance plan. So protect yourself in case of an illness or accident. Costs can add up quickly, especially in the U.S., which has the most expensive healthcare in the world. Just one day in a U.S. hospital costs an average of $8,000 and can go as high as $35,000.

A travel insurance policy needs to provide coverage for the entire trip, from the departure date until you return to your province of residence. Otherwise it won’t be valid.

  • Staying longer? Notify your insurance provider ASAP or you won’t be covered after the initial return date. You’ve got until then to let them know about your change in plans.

If you’re a Desjardins member, you’re eligible for travel assistance anywhere in the world, 24/7, before you leave and while you’re gone.

Injury or unstable condition

We’ve all heard of people getting denied coverage due to pre-existing medical conditions or injuries, so let’s make sure you understand it. Even if your doctor says you can travel, if you declared an illness or a health issue on your medical questionnaire, the insurance company decides whether or not to insure you while you’re travelling. You need to prove you’ve been in stable condition for several months before you leave to qualify.

Avoid surprises. Read through your policy so you know if a pre-existing injury or condition before you leave will be covered during your trip. Policy exclusions and limits vary depending on the insurer.

Medical questionnaire

There’s a very good possibility that you’ll be asked to fill out a medical questionnaire to determine your eligibility and the amount of your travel insurance premium. It’s essential that the information you put down is accurate. Contact your doctor to make sure you’re providing the correct information. A false statement can result in denial of coverage or even a cancelled policy.

It’s not uncommon for people to be worried when they fill out the questionnaire. To help relieve some of that stress, Desjardins now offers an annual contract that’s renewable for up to 4 years before you have to fill out another medical questionnaire. So any change in your health won’t increase your premium.

Long trips abroad

In order to qualify for health insurance, you need to be in your province of residence for at least half the year. You can’t be away for more than 183 days in a calendar year (January 1 to December 31). Trips of 21 days or less and departure and return dates don’t count towards the total.1

Every calendar year you’re not in your home province for at least 183 days, you’re not covered by health insurance. And Quebec residents are ineligible for travel insurance if they’re not covered by the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ). You’ll be asked to reimburse the cost of any healthcare services you received during the period of ineligibility.1

Although the limit for days away from most Canadian provinces is 182, Ontario, New Brunswick and British Columbia residents can be absent for up to 212 days.

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