Time for snowbirds to check health coverage: Insurance experts

A report from the Canadian Trade Commission estimates that close to 500,000 Canadian snowbirds currently spend their winter in Florida. Handout

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The frightful weather means one thing: Snowbirds will be or have already left for southern destinations.

A report by the Canadian Trade Commissioner estimates close to 500,000 Canadian snowbirds spend their winter in Florida.

But with the Ontario government cancelling OHIP’s Out-of-Country Travellers Program in January 2020, insurance experts are advising snowbirds to check their health coverage.

Anne Marie Thomas, of insurancehotline.com

“As it stands today, the province offers (a maximum of) $400-a-day, out-of-country medical coverage,” said Anne Marie Thomas, of insurancehotline.com.

“I mean it sounds like it would be a lot, but that all depends on what happened to you. So it’s not a significant amount but it’s a good reminder, Ontarians, we’re losing this,” added Thomas. “Make sure you purchase travel insurance more than ever because (as of January 2020), you have zero coverage.”

The reason for this, says Thomas, is simple.

“The premier’s office (says) it will save Ontarians $8.3 million a year if we don’t offer this. So $8.3 million tells you people were using this, right?” said Thomas, who added it’s important for people to know the details of their coverage.

“Some people have (travel insurance) through work and so they feel that they’re covered, but you may not be covered for everything. You probably would not be covered under your work policy if you were in Cuba and you were hang gliding and something happened to you,” she added. “Very often … if you’re injured during an extreme sport, you could potentially be declined a claim because an extreme sport, in a lot of cases, is excluded.”


A recent survey by insurancehotline.com found that 40 % of Canadians believe the cost of a four-hour emergency medical evacuation would be $2,000. In reality, it can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

The same survey also found that 34% were not likely to purchase travel insurance for their next trip.

“A lot of people just don’t buy it or they assume that’s it’s covered under their credit card,” said Thomas. “And that’s another thing people should look at. While you may have coverage under your credit card, not all cards are the same so you want to make sure what you’re covered for.”