Do I need Private Health Insurance to go South?


Canadian health care coverage such as OHIP, is ridiculously inadequate. Just ask anyone who has gotten sick in the USA and has had to submit claims to their provincial authority. As a reality, cross border travellers are commonly involved in car accidents and other health related emergencies. Medical expenses and Hospitalizations are all too common. Most thank heavens are relatively minor, but some are just down right catastrophic.

Snowbird Accidents always recommends travellers purchase, affordable private medical and hospital coverage when travelling outside of Canada. We also recommend you top up your car insurance coverages. It is a cheap way to get extra health protection. Believe it or not, you and your family are more likely to be involved in a car accident as compared to having a heart attack. Make sure the family endorsement, the SABs or PIP, and the underinsured motorist coverages are maximized.

Private Health Insurance coverage is extremely limited.

  1. The Covid dilemma”: The majority of the private health insurance policies are really only available to those who are fully vaccinated. If your not vaccinated finding a policy that covers you for covid related illnesses will be nigh impossible. If you do find one, the premium, limitations and exclusions will make it almost worthless.
  2. Always check the policy’s fine print. Your broker should discuss the premium $ and the policy’s exclusions and limitations.
  3. Things to look for – What is the financial limit the insurer will pay for Covid and/or other medical/hospital related expenses? Being sick in the USA is insanely expensive. Does the policy only cover you if you are fully vaccinated? Does the policy cover you if you are going to a high risk area such as Florida? How long is the policy good for? Most only cover you for short finite trips. The longer away the more it costs.
  4. Buyer Beware: The majority of Canadian Private Health Care travel policies exclude claims arising from pre-existing illnesses, injuries, or diseases. As we get older and have various aches and ailments the policies become more and more expensive and exclusive. Remember – insurers only want to insure healthy people – so as we age and accumulate health conditions – the exclusions become more onerous with the policy eventually falling into the category as “totally useless”.

As always speak to your broker and read the fine print. Sometimes even a little coverage is better then no coverage. Unfortunately way too many people end up arguing with their insurer after the fact. If a problem arises our Snowbird lawyers can always lend a hand.

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