Best travel insurance for snowbirds in 2024

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The term snowbird refers to travellers who flock to warmer, sometimes tropical climates, to escape the frigid winter months back home. These are often senior citizens or retirees. Snowbirds living part-time outside of Canada can face serious out-of-pocket expenses for their medical care.

Did you know that the average cost for treatment for a heart attack in the United States is $21,500? And that the hospital stay is an average of 5.3 days? Some patients may even end up paying upwards of $100,000 when surgery is involved.

If you are growing tired of spending winter months in Canada's bone-chilling cold and would rather spend your days with your toes in the sand, this guide will break down what snowbird insurance is, why you need it and the best plans currently available on the market.

Top 5 best snowbirds travel insurance for 2024

  1. Manulife: No deductibles on its snowbird travel insurance
  2. Destination snowbird insurance: 5% discount with a travelling companion
  3. Tugo snowbirds travel insurance: Covers all ages
  4. Allianz snowbirds travel insurance: Pet and car return included
  5. soNomad: the most affordable snowbirds travel insurance

Top 5 best travel insurance for Canadian snowbirds

You are ready to pack your flip-flops and golf clubs, and know you need snowbird insurance before you hop on your flight. Not sure which travel insurance provider to choose?

Popular private travel insurance providers in Canada include:

Manulife: no deductibles on its snowbird travel insurance

Manulife is a reknown insurer in Canada, offering several travelling plans, such as:

  • Single trips plans:
    • Single trip emergency medical
    • Single trip all-inclusive
    • Trip cancellation and interruption
    • Covid-19 pandemic travel plan

This Covid-19 additional coverage can protect you from unexpected emergency medical expenses related to the pandemic. This plan offers up to $5 million for non COVID-19 related expenses and up to $1 million for COVID-19 related expenses.

  • Multiple trips plans:
    • Multi-trip emergency medical
    • Multi-trip all-inclusive

Some of the best features of Manulife's travel insurance include:

  • Complete and comprehensive options for all travellers' profiles.
  • The published rates for all plans include a zero deductible.
  • Manulife's plans are available from the age of 30 onward.
  • Possibility to extend your coverage while you're on your trip (under conditions).
Manulife's featuresManulife's coverage
Emergency medical care
Up to $10 million
Lost, stolen or delayed luggage
Trip cancellation and interruption
Travel and flights accidents
Covid-19 cover
Manulife's snowbirds travel insurance

Destination snowbird insurance: 5% discount with a travelling companion

Destination's travel insurance offer for snowbirds is one the most, if not the most, complete insurance plans on the market. Destination will cover your emergency medical care up to $5,000,000 CAD and covers the following:

  • hospitalization
  • out-patient services
  • prescription drugs
  • emergency transportation

Destination's snowbird policy can be purchased after departure from home province, which is not a feature all insurers offer. And, amongst its other benefits, we can also mention:

  • A Covid-19 coverage (under certain conditions)
  • A discount of 5% on its single trip plan for anyone with a travelling companion.
  • An insurance plan available until the age of 89.

On the other hand:

  • Destination applies a smoking surcharge of 15% if you smoked or used tobacco products within 24 months prior to your departure date.
Destination's featuresDestination's coverage
Emergency medical care
Up to $5 million
Lost, stolen or delayed luggage
Travel and flights accidents
Covid-19 cover
Destination's snowbirds travel insurance

Tugo snowbirds travel insurance: covers all ages

TuGo is a licensed insurance agency in all Canadian provinces and territories. It offers several plans for Canadiant travelling outside of Canada:

  • Emergency medical insurance (Multi and single trips)
  • Trip cancellation and interruption or Trip interruption only (Multi and single trips)
  • Accidental death and dismemberment insurance (Multi Trip Annual and Single Trip)
  • Non medical package (Single Trip)
  • All inclusive Holiday package (Single Trip)

Some of the benefits covered by TuGo are the following:

  • Ambulance services and emergency dental services
  • X-rays and other diagnostic lab tests
  • Prescription drugs
  • Vision care and hearing aids
  • Return of your travel companion
  • TuGo Telemedicine (in the US only).

Other TuGo features include:

  • Possibility to extend your coevrage if you’re already away and decide to stay a bit longer.
  • TuGo' emergency medical Insurance covers all ages.
  • TuGo's medical insurance covers Covid-19-related medical emergencies.
Tugo's featuresTugo's coverage
Emergency medical care
Lost, stolen or delayed luggage
Trip cancellation and interruption
Travel and flights accidents
Tugo's snowbirds travel insurance

Allianz snowbirds travel insurance: pet and car return included

Allianz travel insurance offers plans for snowbirds and long-term travellers. Its main benefits are the following:

  • Emergency medical care (up to $10,000,000) and transportation
  • Meals and Accommodation ($300/Day - Max. $5,000)
  • Vehicle Return ($5,000): covers certain costs related to returning your vehicle or rental vehicle if a medical emergency prevents you from doing so.
  • Pet return ($500): reimbursement for the cost of returning your pet(s) travelling with you.
  • 24-Hour Assistance all over the world

On the downside:

  • Allianz requires a medical questionnaire for travellers above the age of 70
  • Allianz does not cover travellers above the age of 84.
Allianz's featuresAllianz's coverage
Emergency medical care
Up to $10 million
Lost, stolen or delayed luggage
Trip cancellation and interruption
Travel and flights accidents
Covid-19 cover
Allianz's snowbirds travel insurance

soNomad: the most affordable snowbirds travel insurance

soNomad snowbirds travel insurance policy covers the following:

  • coverage for emergency medical care
  • Covid-19 coverage at no extra cost
  • coverage for pre-existing medical conditions
  • wide range of deductibles to choose from
  • annual multi-trip options
  • no administrative fees for date changes or cancellations

Other benefits of soNomad travel insurance for Canadians snowbirds include:

  • a coverage accessible to snowbirds of all ages
  • best rates on the market (up to 25% saved on your plan's price)
  • 24/7 emergency assistance
  • possible to subscribe after departure

By far one of the best products currently on the market. Only downside to this insurance would be its highly digital user experience (not for all seniors' cup of tea!).

SoNomad's featuresSoNomad's coverage
Emergency medical care
Lost, stolen or delayed luggage
Trip cancellation and interruption
Travel and flights accidents
Covid-19 cover
SoNomad's snowbirds travel insurance

What is snowbird travel insurance?

Snowbird travel insurance is single or multi-trip travel insurance that covers seniors spending the winter months away from home in a warmer climate. The insurance covers unforeseen medical complications and new medical conditions that develop.

Many snowbirds from Canada travel to warm parts of the United States, like Arizona, Florida or New Mexico. Others decamp to places like Mexico or Costa Rica. While Canadians are well-covered by provincial insurance plans and supplemental private health plans while at home, that is not always the case while away at a sunny Caribbean beach. Not only are seniors more likely to need medical care while away, but the cost of medical care is also on the rise every year.

Good to know

Pre-existing conditions and routine maintenance or preventive care are typically excluded from snowbird travel insurance plans, but there are exceptions. Some insurance companies will cover controlled and stable pre-existing conditions.

What does travel insurance for snowbirds cover?

Snowbirds insurance makes a distinction between:

  • Single-trip snowbird insurance: It covers you for a specified trip duration assuming you only stay in one place during that time. Do not worry if you end up staying at your destination longer, most plans allow you to extend the dates of your trip.
  • Multiple-trip snowbird travel insurance: If you plan to make multiple trips to multiple destinations, it may be cost-effective to purchase an annual multi-trip travel insurance plan. Keep in mind, you can take any number of trips. Note that coverage for each trip may be limited to 30 or 45 days, depending on the terms of the policy.

What is covered by snowbirds insurance

Travel medical insurance for snowbirds commonly covers the following medical expenses:

  • Medical treatments
  • Prescription medications
  • Paramedics and ambulance rides
  • Repatriation to Canada
  • Emergency dental care

What is not covered by snowbirds insurance

  • Snowbird insurance policies do not usually cover elective treatments. Those should happen before you leave or wait until you return to Canada.
  • Pre-existing conditions are also rarely covered. Some plans do include this guarantee though. A quick comparison of the market's offers should help you identify them.

Does snowbird insurance cover Covid-19?

Many insurance companies have started offering Covid-19 travel insurance coverage, so it is entirely possible to get it covered with your snowbird travel insurance. It is important to note, however, that coverage varies greatly under these insurance policies.

Some companies are also offering a Covid-19 rider add-on that will cover costs associated with the virus. Other companies may exclude Covid-19 coverage depending on pre-existing conditions you may have.

Good to know

If you have a trip coming up, we highly recommend reviewing the terms of your policy carefully. Stay up to date by calling your insurance company or broker before leaving.

How much does snowbird travel insurance cost?

Average Snowbird insurance price

Our team was quoted $527.70 for a standard plan for a 63-year old with no major illnesses or pre-existing conditions travelling outside of Canada for 62 days. Like with many standard private health insurance plans, prices depend on:

  • age
  • policy maximums
  • insurer, location
  • duration of coverage needed.

Also keep in mind that if you are over the age of 59, a lot of companies will require you to complete a medical questionnaire.

Watch out!

Remember to answer the questions truthfully. Omitting underlying health conditions may disqualify you from getting reimbursed for care while outside of Canada. This can leave you responsible for paying a hefty medical bill all on your own.

5 tips to get the cheapest travel insurance for snowbirds

There are some easy steps you can do to try to save money on your snowbird travel insurance:

  1. Inquire about discounts. For example, some companies like Destination offer a 5% discount if you have at least one shot of the Covid-19 vaccines while other companies offer companion discounts if you book your insurance with your partner.
  2. Make an appointment with your doctor, dentist and optometrist to make sure you are healthy, before heading south. Treatment back home is easier to access and less expensive than while away. They can help you be sure you are not suffering from any surprise pre-existing conditions that could be excluded from your travel insurance policy or increase your premium.
  3. Make sure your prescriptions are up to date and get them filled before leaving.
  4. Check your coverage amounts. It is a good idea to have a minimum of $100,000 in coverage. Medical care is expensive, but you may not require the $5 or $8 million coverage that some plans offer. Lower coverage amounts will bring down your premium significantly.
  5. Compare online options! To do so, refer to our comparison tool at the top of this page and get free snowbirds travel insurance quotes.

How is snowbird insurance different from medical travel insurance?

At a glance, snowbird insurance and medical travel insurance may seem like one and the same. The lines certainly blur. In fact, many providers do not use the term snowbird. Snowbird medical insurance can be thought of as an unofficial type of travel medical insurance catering specifically to seniors travelling for a long time.

There are a few important distinctions:

Snowbirds travel insuranceTraditional medical travel insurance
Designed for senior travellers
Designed for people of all ages
Intended for long-term duration
Travel duration is usually short-term (fewer than 30 days)
Some policies cover stable and controlled pre-existing conditions
Pre-existing conditions, even acute, are usually not covered
Differences between snowbird travel insurance and traditional medical travel insurance

Good to know

Snowbird travel insurance policies are also usually better adapted to working within the US healthcare system

How long can snowbirds keep their health insurance while being away?

Each province has different rules regarding how long you can spend out of your home and also keep your provincial health insurance.

Good to know

It is important to spent some time each year at home in order to maintain residency and access to provincial health plans.

Provincial minimum residency requirements are as follows:

Province territoryMinimum days required per year
183 days
British Columbia
6 months
6 months
New Brunswick
183 days
Newfoundland and Labrador
4 months
Northwest Territories
183 days
Nova Scotia
183 days
No requirement
153 days
Prince Edward Island
6 months + 1 day
183 days
6 months
6 months
Minimum days spent in home province to keep provincial insurance plan

Are you planning to get away this winter? Compare the best travel medical insurances for canadian snowbirds currently on the market by using our free comparison tool below:

Compare the best travel insurance plans on the market!

Get a quote


Save up to 25% on your travel insurance with our partner soNomad

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Alexandre Desoutter

Alexandre Desoutter has been working as editor-in-chief and head of press relations at HelloSafe since June 2020. A graduate of Sciences Po Grenoble, he worked as a journalist for several years in French media, and continues to collaborate as a as a contributor to several publications.

Asit M.

If i go to India for 5.5 months, from Toronto, Ontario, will I receive the OHIP Coverage while in India for emergency medical conditions and hospitalization?

author-profile-picture Alexandre Desoutter Our expert

Hi Asit,
When travelling abroad, your OHIP coverage is limited. Doctor services, emergency inpatient and outpatient services are covered up to a maximum. Other services such as ambulance services are not. You can find more information about Out of Country coverage on the Government of Ontario website.

Have a nice day,
The HelloSafe team


if you have a pre-existing condition and travel to another province in Canada does OHIP cover medical costs in the event you need medical care for pre-existing condition

author-profile-picture Alexandre Desoutter Our expert

Hi John,
OHIP does not consider pre-existing conditions separately. As long as you have a valid OHIP card, every condition is covered, pre-existing or not.
When you travel outside of Ontario, your OHIP card allows to to be covered for physician services and every services provided in a public hospital. However, your coverage of ambulance services, prescription drugs, assistive devices or home-care services do not follow you outside of Ontario.
If you are away for more than seven months, you need to confirm you coverage before leaving by calling ServiceOntario to determine what you may need to do.

Have a nice day,
The HelloSafe team