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Snowbirds are ready for take-off

Make sure travelling seniors are protected.

Two winters ago, only about 30 per cent of Canada’s roughly one million snowbirds headed south. Last winter, the percentage was up to about 90 per cent.[1] This winter, it’s likely to be even higher. And, at a time when COVID-19 is still circulating and travel industry staffing challenges are causing cancellations and delays, it’s important for your clients to think about packing travel insurance for every out-of-province trip.

Like any other category of insurance, travel insurance helps to protect insured people and their families from financial hardship. When travelling, insurable costs can include expenses related to COVID-19, but also to other illnesses, injuries, lost and delayed luggage, pre-departure trip cancellation (for a covered risk), trip extensions and even pre-existing conditions*. Without protection, these costs can be significant and add extra stress to already stressful situations.

Because not all policies are created equal, advisors and their clients should carefully review terms and conditions to make sure the specific risks they want to cover are included. Advisors should also be prepared for common questions they’re likely to hear from clients as the weather cools and snowbirds get ready to migrate.

Should I buy coverage for this trip or for multiple trips? 

Multi-trip coverage tends to be more cost-effective than single-trip coverage if clients are planning more than one trip outside their home province (including within Canada) during the year. With multi-trip coverage, your clients can insure an unlimited number of trips up to a specific length – and they can generally top up their protection if they book a trip that will last longer. 

Do I have emergency medical coverage for COVID-19 during my trip?

Clients who have received the full course of vaccination authorized by Health Canada as of the policy’s effective date are covered for COVID-related expenses under all Manulife travel insurance plans with emergency medical benefits – as long as there is no Government of Canada travel advisory to avoid travel due to COVID-19. Check the fine print for non-Manulife policies. (See more details below.)

Am I covered for pre-existing conditions?

The section of a policy that describes coverage for pre-existing conditions is one of the most important to review in detail with your clients. Often, when a pre-existing condition has been stable for a period of either three or six months prior to the departure date, it is covered – but read the policy wording carefully. Specialized policies, involving medical underwriting, are designed to cover disclosed pre-existing conditions that many other policies exclude. 

What if I need to cancel my trip?

All-inclusive plans typically cover trip cancellation and interruption caused by medical and other unforeseen emergencies, such as an accidental injury or unexpected death, an unissued travel visa or a missed flight connection. It’s also possible to purchase standalone trip cancellation and interruption coverage to insure higher amounts. Watch for exclusions, such as cancellation due to a medical condition that wasn’t stable in the three months before the policy was purchased. (See more details below.) 

What if I need to extend my trip?

If a client’s return home is delayed for any reason, it may be possible to extend coverage to ensure continuous protection during those extra days. It’s very important to call the insurance provider’s customer service phone line to arrange an extension before the policy expires. 

What if the airline loses my luggage?

Travellers have seen a lot of unsettling news reports of airport halls filled with suitcases that have yet to be reunited with their owners and, even in non-pandemic times, luggage sometimes goes missing. All-inclusive plans typically cover baggage loss, damage and delay, up to a specific amount per trip and/or per policy. There’s often also coverage for the costs of replacing a lost or stolen passport, driver’s licence, birth certificate or travel visa.

Travel insurance opens doors to other conversations

As an advisor, you have an important role to play in helping clients decide on the suitable type and amount of travel insurance they may want to consider purchasing before they flock to warm destinations. Keep in mind that raising the topic is also an opportunity to check in with them, offer additional services that help them meet their goals and, as well, grow your business. 

More details


Manulife follows the Canadian government’s recommendation regarding travel and vaccination status. At this time, a COVID-19 vaccine series is recognized as the initial two doses.

Advisors are encouraged to review the government’s current travel advisories prior to selling a particular policy. Clients should also be advised to check the travel advisory for their destination before their departure date.

Trip cancellation

COVID-19 has been a known event since March 2020. This means that insureds aren’t covered for trip cancellation related to COVID-19, except in the following three circumstances:

1. Sickness (accompanied by a medical certificate) due to contracting COVID-19 that prevents them from travelling as planned

2. A positive COVID-19 test result (accompanied by a medical certificate) within 72 hours before departure from home, which prevents them from travelling as planned

3. The loss of their job, as a result of the pandemic’s impact on their place of employment

Manulife offers a wide range of travel insurance coverage options. Reach out for more information if you or your clients have questions about the specifics of Manulife’s travel insurance coverage.

* Some limitations, exclusions and other conditions may apply. 

[1] www.cbc.ca/news/business/canada-snowbirds-u-s-winter-hibernating-1.6223569 

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