With many Canadians gearing up to head down south for the winter, it’s essential to have the right insurance for your getaway.

Matt Hands, director of insurance at Ratehub.ca, says the type of insurance you go with depends on the length of the trip.

“First and foremost, you should be looking at medical insurance, and then, if you’re travelling more of an all-inclusive travel style, you may also want to consider flight and accident insurance.”

Hands says a standard travel insurance policy may only cover you for 21 days, but snowbird travel insurance coverage is often available for around six months.

“You need to figure out how long you’re going to be gone and make sure that your coverage is in place for the duration of your stay,” says Hands. This means ensuring you’re covered for trip cancellations, baggage loss and trip interruption, especially if your journey involves several flights. You may also want to check if your policy covers COVID-19 related trip interruptions, as well.

Pay attention to the fine print when selecting a policy, Hands advises. It’s important that the travel policy takes your age into account, especially for snowbirds over 65. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, make sure your policy covers medical visits. “What a lot of insurance companies are looking for is whether your pre-existing condition is stable enough when you’re applying for the policy,” says Hands.

Traditional institutions such as Sun Life, RBC and Desjardins offer snowbird travel insurance as do upstarts like Goose Insurance, an app-based insurance program.

Hands recommends looking at several factors when comparing policies. “Insurance is specific to your needs, and just because somebody you know got a great rate doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you because it could depend on your destination, your age, the duration of your stay,” he says.

“Do the research, shop around, talk to multiple travel insurance companies to understand who’s offering the best amount of coverage at the best price.”