Heading south for the winter? Travel Insurance can help!

Winter is here, and if you’re looking to escape the cold weather, you might be tempted to head south for the season.

With an abundance of affordable flights to tropical destinations like the Dominican Republic and Cuba at your fingertips, hibernating on a warm sandy beach while friends and relatives brush snow off their cars each morning doesn’t seem like a bad idea – but what happens if something goes wrong?

Protect your trip - and your wallet - from unexpected mishaps that may arise with travel insurance!

In today’s blog, we’ll explore how travel insurance can help prepare you for any unforeseen circumstances, whether you’re planning to be gone for a few weeks or a few months. 

What is travel insurance? 

You may feel that you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that you’re escaping the harsh Canadian winter, but it’s important to remember that there are several risks involved with travelling. Travel insurance can help provide protection against such risks.

Travel insurance can help cover the costs of medical expenses and other losses incurred while travelling. It might also cover expenses in the event of delayed or cancelled flights, lost or stolen luggage, or even lost travel documents. Let’s review some of the different types of plans:

Single-Trip Travel Insurance 

Single-trip travel insurance provides coverage for those travelling, either domestically or internationally, and returning home in a single trip.

With this policy, travellers may visit multiple countries and still receive coverage as long as they return home only once. 

Multi-Trip Travel Insurance 

Multi-trip travel insurance is purchased on an annual basis and provides coverage for a full calendar year. Unlike single-trip, multi-trip policies provide ongoing protection so you can return home and depart for a new adventure without purchasing a new plan.

However, it is important to note that to receive multi-trip travel insurance, travel must not exceed a specific number of days. This depends on the insurance provider but often ranges anywhere from 4 to 60 days.

Snowbird Travel Insurance

Do you know someone who disappears and heads off to somewhere warm and sunny each winter? Sounds like they might be an experienced snowbird.

A snowbird is a Canadian who skips town and heads south for the winter, often taking refuge in places like Florida, California, and the Caribbean.

In most cases, snowbirds are retired seniors. Named after actual birds that migrate south every winter, they spend several months of each year escaping the cold in their destination of choice, or flock to a few different places, before returning home to the warmer weather.

Snowbird travel insurance caters specifically to this demographic. Designed for Canadians travelling outside their home province or country for extended periods of time, this insurance policy provides coverage for up to 212 consecutive days.

Snowbird Travel Insurance vs. Standard Travel Insurance 

One of the biggest differences between snowbird and standard travel insurance is the length and duration of coverage. If you’re planning to be away for several months and are at least 55 years old, you might want to consider snowbird travel insurance. However, if you’re only planning to be out of the province or country for a few weeks, a single-trip plan should suffice.

What does travel insurance cover? 

Standard travel insurance policies typically provide the following coverage: 

  • Medical expenses: Travel insurance can pay for any necessary care if you fall ill or get hurt while travelling abroad. This may include doctor visits, prescription medications, and hospital stays.
  • Trip Cancellation/Interruption: If an unexpected event forces you to return home before your trip is complete, travel insurance can reimburse you for the money spent on airfare, hotel rooms or travel fees (up to certain limits) so that you don’t have to pay for events that are beyond your control.
  • Lost or Stolen Luggage: Whether it’s a suitcase that goes missing during transit or an expensive camera stolen from your hotel room window sill, travel insurance will reimburse you up to certain limits for lost/damaged items.

In addition to the above, coverage for airline accidents and other mishaps can also be added to your standard travel insurance policy.

Aside from the duration of coverage, snowbird travel insurance isn’t hugely different from a standard policy. While coverage is dependent on the provider, snowbird travel insurance usually includes:

  • Trip interruption/cancellation
  • Lost/stolen baggage
  • Medical emergencies
  • Some pre-existing conditions
  • Emergency evacuation/repatriation
  • Prescription drugs 

The importance of travel insurance

Travel insurance is something you can’t afford to be without. It’s a little like car and life insurance: You hope you never have to use it but in the event that you do, it can make all the difference.

Despite knowing this, the majority of Canadians continue to make the mistake of not purchasing coverage. According to a report, less than half (40 percent) of all Canadians travelling outside the country purchased insurance for their trip.

When you travel outside of your home country or province, the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) and other forms of provincial health insurance may, if at all, cover a limited amount of costs for medical emergencies occurring outside of the country, including the US. Purchasing travel insurance is a great way to ensure you’re protected against the unexpected. Even if you’re only planning a short visit, if an emergency does happen, it won’t take long before costs begin to pile up.

Some policies will even offer trip cancellation coverage, so even if something happens and your trip must be cancelled or cut short because of illness, injury or death, you will still receive some reimbursement for the cost of the trip itself.

The most important thing to remember about travel insurance though is that it’s not just for emergencies – it covers all sorts of situations where an individual may be unable to continue on their planned journey due to illness or injury while travelling away from home. 

What to consider while shopping for travel insurance 

While travel insurance is an integral part of any trip, not all policies are made the same. What might suit you may not suit another policyholder and vice versa.

Before settling on a policy, consider the following:

  • How much coverage do you need?
  • Is there a deductible? If so, how much is it?
  • How long are you travelling for?
  • Does the policy exclude or limit coverage for certain regions or countries you may visit?
  • Do you have any pre-existing health conditions? Pre-existing health conditions under most policies aren’t covered unless you declare it and, in some cases, pay extra, so make sure you’re honest with your provider.
  • Will all your belongings be covered? In some cases, you may need to pay extra to cover expensive items like camera equipment and jewelry.
  • What kind of cancellation policy is offered? Some companies will reimburse you for unused portions if your trip has been cancelled due to natural disasters or visa issues.
  • Will I only require travel insurance? Some companies may offer discounts if you sign up for multiple policies.
  • Are there any other factors I should consider when choosing an insurer? For example: is their website easy to navigate and mobile friendly? Do they have phone numbers listed outside regular business hours? 

Common travel insurance mistakes 

Travel insurance mistakes can be costly, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting the right protection for your needs and budget. Here are some common pitfalls that travellers fall into when choosing travel insurance: 

Choosing the cheapest option 

The cheapest option isn’t always the best option when it comes to travel insurance. Cheaper policies often provide less coverage or protection, and when you’re thousands of miles away from home, it’s not the time to risk it.

Cheaper policies may also fail to cover medical conditions or include evacuation coverage when something goes wrong while abroad. In fact, some insurance companies price their policies according to the amount of coverage they provide.

While adding these features to your policy may cost extra initially, they could save you thousands in the long run! Be sure to compare policies and check carefully for any exclusions and limits before making a final decision. 

Omitting medical history 

A common question people often have about travel insurance is whether or not they should declare pre-existing medical conditions – and the answer is yes!

Most insurance providers will require that you fill out a medical questionnaire before purchasing a policy. The information provided on this form is critical as it helps insurers determine how much coverage you require. If you fail to disclose that you suffer from a chronic condition or a pre-existing condition and then want to make a claim for treatment related to that condition, your claim may be denied.

Neglecting to inform insurers about pre-existing health conditions also puts you at risk of not receiving coverage for any medical expenses related to the condition. Benjamin Franklin wasn’t lying when he said honesty is the best policy. 

Waiting too long to purchase coverage

While it may be possible to purchase travel insurance after leaving the country, it’s inadvisable as your coverage may be subject to a waiting period. This means that you won’t be eligible for coverage until after the waiting period ends – usually 10 days from when you purchased your policy or from when your trip begins – whichever comes first.

Purchasing coverage prior to your departure ensures full protection against unexpected occurrences from day one.

Overlooking the fine print 

It’s important to read the travel insurance policy carefully before purchasing so you know exactly what’s covered and what isn’t.

For instance, a common misconception among policyholders is that as long as you’re insured for medical emergencies abroad, everything else is covered too – but that’s not always the case. Some policies have exclusions like natural disasters while others may not cover pre-existing conditions.

Additionally, some policies may only cover certain types of medical care (like emergency transport) while others will reimburse you for all out-of-pocket expenses incurred while away from home regardless of whether or not they’re related to an emergency situation (like lost luggage).

Travel insurance policies can also be confusing, with a lot of jargon and legalese that can be hard to understand. If you’re having difficulty understanding something in your policy, don’t hesitate to reach out to the insurer for clarification. 

Planning excursions without confirming coverage 

You might not be as covered as you think. Some insurers may exclude coverage for certain activities, like rock climbing, white-water rafting, or bungee jumping, because of higher risk factors.

Before you book any activity that could put your health at risk, confirm your coverage with your insurer. This will prevent unnecessary disputes later on if something does happen on the trip and you need reimbursement for medical expenses incurred during treatment.

Purchasing a policy that doesn’t suit your needs 

Not every policy is appropriate for every situation. Like with any type of insurance, you want to make sure that you’re buying the right amount of coverage for your specific needs and budget.

Having a strong sense of your specific concerns and the type of coverage you’re looking for will help you narrow down the list of policies available to you so that you can find the one that offers what you need at an affordable price.

The best way to ensure that you have the right coverage for your adventure is to speak with an Acumen advisor. Our insurance brokers will listen carefully to understand your needs to ensure that you receive coverage options that are built for you and not somebody else. 

Bring great coverage with you on your next adventure 

Take travel insurance with you on your next trip with Acumen Insurance! Whether you’re travelling for two weeks or three months, travel insurance can help protect you from any unforeseen mishaps that could arise – from medical protection to lost baggage and even cancellations.

Regardless of your end destination, Acumen can help you find travel insurance that can assist you with unexpected costs associated with illness, accidents, or property damage so that you can promote lasting memories – not lasting payments – on all your vacations.

At Acumen Insurance we are proud to offer personalized advice to help you find the travel coverage you need. In addition to finding the plan best suited for you and your budget, our insurance brokers will spend time helping you understand what type of travel insurance coverage you’re buying, what’s covered, exclusions, policy limitations, how much coverage is provided and how to report a loss or claim. To get started or to request insurance quotes, contact us today!