Snowbirds...Don't let your travel coverage "Fall"short.

Caught between hot summer days and chilly winter nights, Autumn, the cooling season is upon us. Leaves are falling from the trees in their vibrant red, orange and yellow colours. The nighttime arrives earlier, and animals are beginning to prepare for the winter, gathering supplies or traveling to warmer southern climates.

Similarly, autumn is also the time of year when Snowbird’s follow suit and prepare to head to warmer climates. Snowbird is a term associated with people who move from the colder northern climates and migrate southward in winter to warmer locales, typically retirees who wish to avoid the cold temperatures. There are many things to prepare before a departure south; one of the biggest details to take care of is reviewing your travel insurance needs.

For a snowbird spending the winter in Arizona, your insurance needs will be considerably different from Canadians who take a holiday for a week or two at a time. Your credit card company may offer Travel Medical Insurance, but don’t assume coverage is automatically included or that the card alone provides adequate coverage. Some companies charge an additional premium for travel coverage. Others require that you use their card to pay for ALL of your travel arrangements. For these reasons be sure to take time to verify the conditions, limitations and requirements before departure. Taking for granted that your credit card coverage, or group health care plan will have the appropriate provisions and adequate coverage is a big mistake. It is important that you understand what your travel insurance covers to avoid potential costly medical expenses.

Travel insurance for long periods can be expensive therefore it pays to shop around, and to do your homework. There are many websites which can assist you in your efforts, or alternatively you can speak with an insurance agent. It is important to ensure your quote covers the entire period you intend to be travelling, and understand what the policy covers.

Some of the items to look for in a good Travel Medical Insurance plan are:
• pays for hospitalization for illness or injury and related medical costs outside Canada;
• provides coverage for health care provider visits and prescription medicines;
• provides direct payment of bills and cash advances abroad so you don’t have to pay out of your own pocket;
• provides for medical evacuation to Canada or the nearest location with appropriate medical care;
• pays for a medical escort (health care provider) to accompany you during evacuation;
• clearly explains deductible costs (plans with 100 percent coverage are more expensive but may save money in the long run);
• covers preparation and return of your remains to Canada if you die abroad (in most cases, costs will exceed plan coverage);
• covers emergency dental care;
• covers emergency transportation, such as ambulance services.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition, the rates can rise by nearly sixty percent, and definitions of medical stability are very strict. There are a number of circumstances that could trigger exclusions. However, don’t let that stop you. Those with conditions which are excluded from a standard policy may be able to obtain a more expensive policy with fewer inclusions. While quite expensive, consider the costs of a medical emergency in a foreign country will be far more than any increased costs of insurance.

Most important of all…you must fill out the application correctly and disclose any relevant information about your medical history. Failure to disclose (or perceived failure) can lead to a nasty surprise (claim disallowed) should you need to make a claim.

We at Insightful Wealth Group hope you make your escape from our winter weather problem and stress free. All it takes is a little research and preplanning. If there is anything we can do to help you before or during your trip don’t hesitate to contact us.