Take The Unexpected Out Of Your Snowbird Getaway


The leaves are falling, the temperatures have dipped and you’re all packed and ready to escape Canada’s cold winter months. According to The Conference Board of Canada, in 2012, about 1.2 million trips were taken by Canadian snowbirds and this number is expected to increase by five per cent each year. Are you completely ready for the getaway, however?

While no one wants to think about getting injured or falling ill when on holiday, the cost of medical expenses overseas can add unnecessary financial stress to snowbirds and eat into their retirement savings.

“Snowbirds have a unique set of insurance needs,” says Anna Kavanagh, a vice president at TD Insurance. “We recommend that they talk to their insurers and review their insurance needs holistically before leaving the country for extended periods. Don’t let unforeseen situations take the joy away from an otherwise memorable vacation experience.”

Here is a list of “ABCs and Ds” for snowbirds to check off before taking flight:

Arrange for maintenance of your property – There are still lots to do in your absence. Get someone to shovel snow on your driveway in winter, and a family member or neighbour to check on your house every few days. Most insurance policies do not cover properties that are left vacant for extended periods of time. Check with your insurer to find out the requirements.

Buy travel medical insurance – This offers additional peace of mind should you require urgent medical attention on foreign soil. Compare plans and assess your needs. A multiple trip plan makes sense if you travel regularly. Kavanagh points out that TD Insurance has a plan specifically for snowbirds aged 55 and above who stay away for 30 days or more. Check http://www.tdinsurance.com for details.

Check coverage of your provincial healthcare plan – Most provinces require that you stay in your province for at least six months to be eligible for healthcare. Check if your plan covers health care expenses incurred outside of Canada or if there are daily limits on what is covered.

Determine your banking needs – Set up pre-authorized payments for your bills, or apply for online banking facility. Banks such as TD offer a variety of cross-border banking facilities including money transfers and U.S. credit card. Comfortable banking while overseas need not be a dream.