Travel insurance complicates life for “snowbirds”

COVID-19 makes life difficult for “snowbirds”. Here are some explanations.

The neighbor of one of the bosses of Newspaper told us that this year he was going to spend the winter in Quebec because his travel insurance had increased to $ 6,000.

“With COVID-19, insurers are restricting coverage or increasing rates,” explains Guy Duhaime, president of Groupe Financier Multi Courtage. The United States is severely hit by the pandemic, and in some states health standards are very relaxed, including Florida. There are proportionally more infections and deaths than here. Insurers have adjusted accordingly. “

Most insurers therefore impose hefty increases or limits on coverage in the event of hospitalization due to COVID-19, of US $ 250,000, for example. An amount greatly exceeded if you spend a week in intensive care in an American hospital.

And insurance is also expensive if you go to Costa Rica or Mexico, because a repatriation by plane-ambulance costs at least 40,000 dollars.

Normal conditions

In travel insurance (hospitalization, medication, living expenses), nothing has changed in the way insurers estimate risks.

The older the snowbird, the more expensive it is. And it gets worse if you already present a risk due to your physical condition (smoker, weakness in the lungs, recent hospitalization, past heart attack, positive test for COVID-19, and this one or two months before leaving …) .

Christopher Davage, vice-president of sales and marketing at Medipac, a popular insurer with snowbirds, tells me that it will cost me $ 1,017 for a hypothetical six-month stay in Florida. I am under 60, I am a non-smoker, I have never had a heart problem, and I have not caught COVID-19.

Medipac is one of the few insurers not to impose any limit or overpricing with respect to COVID-19: “We think that ‘snowbirds’ will protect themselves, wear masks and practice social distancing,” says Davage.

Insurers are pulling out of a market by systematically charging too high a pricing, as with COVID-19.

Consumers must therefore shop around, or go through an advisor who deals with several insurers.


  • Several travel insurers agree to cover COVID-19 at no extra charge. But if your stay exceeds 21 days, that’s another story.
  • Check to see if your medical insurance coverage is between US $ 3 million and US $ 5 million and if it includes COVID-19. Is there a ceiling in the event of a pandemic, armed conflict or natural disaster? What are the exclusions? Is your accommodation covered in the event of an extension for quarantine abroad, especially if you cannot catch your return flight after testing positive?
  • It is currently impossible to obtain cancellation insurance in the event of contamination by COVID-19.
  • The authorities repeat to refrain from travel during the pandemic. You must provide information on your health when you return from abroad (with the ArriveCAN application: and undergo strict quarantine (monitored by the authorities).

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