Matt Hands, VP, Insurance and MoneySense
Getting travel insurance policy when traveling as a senior or a snowbird is something to seriously consider. Global Affairs Canada reminds travellers that “Canadian insurance is almost certainly not valid outside Canada,” foreign hospitals can be expensive, and Canadians are responsible for their own medical bills “for an illness or accident suffered abroad.” Seniors who travel more than a few times a year should look for travel insurance that provides health, life, and disability coverage.
Travel insurance policies typically offer up to $5 million in coverage for major emergency medical expenses such as hospitalization, doctors’ bills, and ambulance services. Some policies also offer non-medical coverage for sudden trip cancellations and interruptions.
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Since Canada’s healthcare system is publicly funded by taxes, many Canadians don’t directly see how expensive doctor appointments, ambulance rides, emergency care, surgeries and other procedures can be. The cost of medical care and hospital stays in the US and other countries is high, especially for foreign visitors.
If anything is covered at all, Canada’s provincial and territorial health plans will only pay for a small portion of out-of-country costs - up to 10% at most. That’s a tiny slice of the steep fees you could be charged seeking medical help abroad, especially in the case of serious illness, accident or injury. That’s why travel insurance is especially important for seniors, who may have more health issues than younger travellers, and snowbirds, who reside in a foreign country for months at a time.
Some senior and snowbird travel insurance policies have a deductible amount that will have to be paid out of pocket before coverage kicks in to cover medical expenses. It really depends on the plan - some don’t have deductibles, while others can be around $300 to $1,000. The higher the policy’s premium, the lower the deductible (and vice versa). If you’re over the age of 70, you may have to pay a surcharge on your policy for any pre-existing conditions.
Snowbird insurance policies usually outline a maximum number of total days that you can be out of the country. In addition, there are residency requirements to maintain your provincial health benefits. The amount of time differs by province and territory, but some require you to reside in your home province up to six months in a calendar year to remain enrolled in your provincial health insurance plan.
Perhaps most importantly, you should never omit or lie about any pre-existing conditions to an insurer, or else you risk voiding your coverage.
Do seniors and snowbirds need different insurance?
What travel insurance is best for seniors?
At what age does travel insurance increase in price?
What is considered a pre-existing condition for travel insurance?
Can a 90 year old get travel insurance?
Matt Hands, Business Director of Insurance
With 6+ years of experience at Ratehub.ca, Matt’s focus has been on growing its newest business unit, Insurance. He is a thought leader and a valuable resource to respected publications across Canada. read full bio