Snowbirds: top 5 things to remember before taking to the skies

To leave with peace of mind, finding the right solution to cover your healthcare is part of good preparation.

Every year, thousands of people nicknamed “Snowbirds”, migrate to warmer climates during the long winter months. This seasonal migration may seem exciting, but to make the most of the experience, a few things need to be well planned before departure.  

1. Planning and preparation  

Before setting off for warmer climes in the USA, Mexico or elsewhere on the planet, careful planning is essential. This includes transport planning (car travel, RVs, flight reservations, etc.), accommodation at destination and end route, managing financial aspects during the stay, as well as required documents such as passport renewals, visas, international driver’s licenses and more.

2. Health 

Health is of paramount importance, especially when you’re leaving for an extended stay abroad. So it’s vital to find out for a few weeks whether there are any vaccination recommendations in the country you’re visiting. What’s more, since dental and medical services can be very expensive at your destination, a preventive visit to the dentist or family doctor can save you a lot of headaches. You’ll also need to think about obtaining prescription medication for the duration of your stay.

3. Health insurance  

A medical consultation or a short hospital stay can result in very high medical costs. It’s important to take out insurance to ensure your peace of mind in the event of illness or accident. Travel insurance plans will cover you for medical emergencies outside Canada, since the provincial health insurance plan (RAMQ) provides little or no coverage.

It’s important to compare offers from different insurers, which vary according to the amount of coverage, the stability of pre-existing conditions, the addition of a trip cancellation and interruption rider, the addition of an accident and dismemberment rider, and so on. Pricing will be affected by various factors, including age, destination, length of stay, health conditions and options chosen.

3.1 Eligibility and medical conditions  

In all transparency, the majority of insurers will probably ask for a medical questionnaire to ascertain the state of health of the person to be insured. It’s important to declare any recent or less recent health event. When submitting a claim, the insurer may ask to consult the history of the Canadian medical file to establish the stability of a medical condition.

4. Safety and precautions

It is important to consult the Travel Reports and Warnings on the Government of Canada website to be aware of the advisories relating to the destination you are visiting and to travel in complete safety.

5. Property management and personal security  

Before you leave, make sure your home is secure, and plan for maintenance of entrances and automatic lighting.  It’s also important to appoint someone you trust to watch over your property, take care of valuables, and handle mail and deliveries when you leave. In addition, you’ll need to ensure that your bills continue to be paid.  

You’ll have a clear conscience if you focus on these 5 essentials when planning your winter holiday.

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