Snowbirds: take heed before taking flight

Plane over the beach

Taking steps to ensure your travel, home and auto insurance coverage is sufficient can contribute greatly to worry-free extended stays in the United States, says Dawn Marchand, vice-president of marketing, product and direct distribution of Toronto-based Lawyers Financial.

Marchand offers some helpful hints for snowbirds — or those thinking about joining the flock — when buying travel insurance.

She suggests asking whether there are any rules pertaining to pre-existing medical conditions and if there are any exclusions in the policy.

"It's very important to disclose any conditions up front and find out what the rules are," Marchand tells AdvocateDaily.com. "It doesn't do any good not to tell the insurer because they're going to find out at claims time."

She urges snowbirds to inquire about repatriation coverage and what it addresses — whether it covers travel back to Canada for you, your companion or someone who must be assigned to travel with you, and the method of travel — by coach or business class.

"Does it cover an emergency flight if you need it?" asks Marchand.

She advises travellers taking their own vehicles to check whether their car insurance has an out-of-country provision and to make note of the duration. They should also make sure they understand what it covers.

Regarding rental vehicles, Marchand says travel provisions in regular vehicle insurance could save snowbirds money since rental agencies can charge between $10 and $20 a day for insurance.

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