Save Money on Shorter-Term Snowbird Travel Insurance

If you’re travelling for less than 90 days this winter and plan on doing a little more foreign travel later in the year, think about buying an annual, multi-trip plan instead of two or three single-trip plans. It could save you a lot of money.

All of the travel insurers advertising on this site offer annual as well as single-trip plans. This is how they work: you buy a 15, 30, 60, or 90-day plan (they come in other denominations too) and you can travel up to the limit you have chosen as many times as you wish over the next 365 days. You can do this for one premium, one application process, and you don’t have to tell your insurer when you’re travelling—you just go. The only catch is that you can’t exceed the daily limit you have chosen without returning to your home province (note, I said province, not country) for at least 24 hours before you start the next segment, although you can top up an individual segment just by calling your insurer.

Because your trips are all of a shorter duration, your exposure—or chances of being stricken by a medical emergency out of the country—are far less than if you stayed out 180 days. And so the insurer can charge you on the basis of the shorter duration since it’s less risk. Think of it this way: If you wanted to insure against being hit by lightning while on a golf course, and you played only three times a year, you would be far less susceptible than someone who is out there every day except Christmas.

Annual trips are the fastest-growing segment of the travel insurance marketplace. But there are some cautions you need to be aware of. If you encounter a medical claim on one of your travel segments, you must notify your insurer before your next trip as the terms of your coverage may have to be altered. The medical condition that generated the claim may be considered a pre-existing condition for subsequent travel and may therefore be excluded from coverage or your premium may have to be adjusted. Or if your health changes between segments—e.g., if you develop new symptoms, or have to undergo tests, or require a hospitalization or a change in medication—your insurer needs to know immediately, before your next trip.

One other tip: The clock starts ticking on your chosen travel segment when you leave your province, not necessarily when you leave Canada. For example, if you live in Manitoba and plan on spending a week with relatives in Ontario on your way to Florida, you will have one week less of out-of-country coverage on that travel segment. And any time you generate a claim, you may have to prove your travel dates so the insurer is satisfied you stayed within your segment limitation and didn’t encounter your claim on the 32nd day of travel under a policy that only allowed you 30 days at a time.

But if you know of those limitations and live within them, the annual trip plan is a good, flexible way to go, a great way to save lots of money. Ask you insurer about it.

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