As restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic lift and seniors become brave enough to return to their normal activities, many are considering resuming their snowbirding lifestyle.
As with everything else, the cost of travel and the insurance coverage that should be the companion that cushions the blow should something go wrong is an essential part of this idyllic winter vacation plan.
Gary Clarke of Snow Owl Travel Insurance, who has been an insurance broker in Prince George for 45 years, knows the ins and outs of insurance and has taken the guesswork out for his clients.
“The restrictions or add-ons have been removed now, so for whatever reason you have a medical emergency, including COVID-19, the insurance company will pay,” Clarke said. “The companies I use have a $10 million global policy that you’re covered for and prices always depend on your age, medical condition, destination and length of trip.”
Clarke said there are new trends.
“A lot of people are leaving for longer terms now. Recently, I made quotes for trips of up to seven months. It’s long and can be quite expensive and it would depend on how long you’re there and your health – if you don’t have any underlying health conditions it makes a big difference compared to someone who has underlying conditions – a big difference.”
Another factor that determines the cost is if your destination is the United States.
“You can have worldwide travel insurance that excludes the United States and it’s a little cheaper because the United States is the most expensive place in the world to get sick,” Clarke said. “If you go to hospital there, it’s very expensive and believe it or not, Canada is the second most expensive country. Most people don’t realize this because we are covered by our health insurance plan. »
He also noticed a recent trend where, now that pandemic restrictions are lifted and people are ready to explore, they get multi-trip insurance, where they buy a policy that runs for, say, 35 days a year , because they can go on vacation twice a year. but there is also this visit to the family which also takes them away from home.
“They don’t know exactly when they’re leaving, so they’ll buy a multi-trip policy that covers as many trips as they’d like to take that year,” Clarke said. “I find it’s very popular now because it leaves all your options open.”
Clarke said to get any type of travel insurance, people must first be covered by their provincial health insurance plan.
“I want to point out something, especially when it comes to older people,” Clarke said. “Even if you have a persistent medical condition, the rates are based on the stability of that condition. So let’s say you’re taking medication for high blood pressure so you declare it and that’s okay there’s no rate increase for that as long as you declare it but it has to be stable condition for at least six months – so no increase in medication for six months and if there is a change in medication there will be a supplement. These are things to keep in mind when purchasing insurance.
Here’s something Clarke likes about the companies he uses, especially for his older clients.
“You’ve heard horror stories about how people get insurance and because they forgot to declare a pre-existing condition, their insurance company won’t cover the cost of a hospital stay” , said Clarke. “It’s everyone’s nightmare. So a company I use will never deny the claim. Old people forget things, okay? They forget that their doctor told them this or that. They’re not fraudulent, they just have a lot going on and they forget.
Clarke said the company never denies a claim, so if a mistake was made on the medical questionnaire, the company will simply change the deductible.
“I just use the top five insurers in Canada and that way you know they’ll stand behind their policies,” Clarke said. “And that’s what it’s all about – having peace of mind when you travel.”