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Snowbird market is evolving

By Justine Montminy | October 02 2018 07:00AM

Photo: Freepik

The snowbird season is looming. Each year these travellers who flee the cold climes for months on end represent an attractive market for the travel insurance industry. The market has evolved in recent years.

The Conference Board of Canada defines a snowbird as a Canadian traveller age 55 or over who leaves the country for 31 nights or more. These travellers are starting to shop for insurance earlier and earlier, insurers note.

Allianz Global Assistance receives requests for information in July, business development manager, Mélanie Lessard says. This traveller category has snowballed in recent years. 

“According to the latest figures from the Conference Board of Canada, between 2000 and 2016 the number of snowbirds soared by 298 per cent,” Lessard says. These travellers are roving well beyond Florida, their traditional destination. They are more active than ever and many don’t think twice about leaving the continent.

Medical situation and history

Insuring these travellers may be a bit more complex due to their age, says TuGo CEO Patrick Robinson. “Not only are they leaving the country for a longer time, but it’s common for senior travellers 60 years and older to have to provide details about their medical situation and history. Supplying complete and accurate information is crucial. Brokers can prepare for the snowbird season by getting to know their customers’ individual needs,” he explains.  

At the same time, a growing flock of snowbirds views insurance as important. Insurers associate this phenomenon with intensified media coverage that trumpets the prohibitive medical bills incurred by uninsured travellers. 

“Common industry estimates are that 86.5 per cent of snowbirds are insured. Of course, we would like to raise this figure to 100 per cent, but we are satisfied with this rate. These travellers often choose to pay more for insurance to be fully covered. They seek out the best coverage for their personal situation,” Lessard says.

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