As fall begins and winter arrives, Canadian snowbirds are busy planning their trip south this year with more interest.
While the threat of COVID-19 in Canada and the US is not over amid the spread of the delta variant, travel demand has increased over the past year, say travel insurance experts.
“There has been an increase in demand for Canadians to travel outside Canada, especially to the US,” said Pamela Kwiatkowski, Co-Founder and Vice President Swan Insurance.
That said, since August, they have seen an increase in activity and sales increasing every day as Canadians plan and book their trips.
For now, Canadians can get to the US by air, as the land border closure — in effect since March 2020 — will remain in effect until at least October 21.
This poses some problems for those hoping to drive to sunny US destinations and escape Canada’s harsh winter.
Martin Firestone, a Toronto-based travel insurance broker, said his Snowbird clients typically start making their way to Florida, Arizona, California and Texas in October and stay until April.
Their biggest concern, he said, is why they are unable to drive in their cars, but they are allowed to fly in an airplane with 300 other people.
“The bottom line is that people who want to go before October 21 are not going anywhere and they will now wait for the next 30 days and see what happens,” Firestone told Granthshala News.
“90 percent of snowbirds may be expected to return south to 50 percent if they can’t drive and take their vehicles with them because I think that would be a very costly factor for many people. of the options.”
Canada reopened its land border in August to fully vaccinate Americans.
US travelers who have been fully vaccinated do not need to be quarantined upon arrival in Canada, but must show a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival and provide proof of vaccination via the ArriveCAN smartphone app or web portal .
Currently, there is no vaccine requirement for air travelers into the US, but beginning in November all passengers entering the US must receive a vaccine at least 72 hours prior to boarding and certification of their double immunization status. Proof of negative COVID-19 test must be provided. .
Some are now wondering whether the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, which has not been approved in the US, will also be accepted.
“There’s some concern about how it’s going to be handled,“ Firestone said.
Daily COVID-19 cases in the US have declined since the beginning of September, but deaths are rising – an average of more than 1,500 per day.
Travel insurance experts advise Canadians, especially the more vulnerable older population, to be fully vaccinated before heading south.
Kwiatkowski said that since provincial health coverage does not apply to any emergency medical services and hospitalization during travel, it is important for snowbirds to purchase an insurance policy that covers COVID-19-related expenses.
He said they should also ensure that apart from medical expenses, their policy covers the cost of cancellation of travel, quarantining or delay in their return.
“A day in the hospital could cost you $10,000 to $50,000 and no one wants to pay that price.”
Firestone said more than 90 percent of their customers are interested in traveling to the US this year — up from about 30 percent last year.
He said that many people have already booked their trips and made arrangements for where they will stay.
“His attitude is ‘Life is short. I was a year away from this place. I’m leaving this year regardless.’”
Granthshala News contacted the Canadian Snowbird Association for comment, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.
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