Boughner: Some snowbirds unaware of their insurance needs: Study

With the Ontario government's cancellation of OHIP's out-of-country travellers program this coming January, snowbirds need to remember that accidents and medical emergencies can happen anywhere, at any time.

A report from the Canadian Trade Commission estimates that close to 500,000 Canadian snowbirds currently spend their winter in Florida. (Handout)

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With the Ontario government’s cancellation of OHIP’s out-of-country travellers program this coming January, snowbirds need to remember that accidents and medical emergencies can happen anywhere, at any time. But as Canadians flee below-zero temperatures, they should check out the costs associated with medical emergencies.

According to a recent survey by InsuranceHotline.com, 40 per cent of Canadians believe the cost of a four-hour emergency medical evacuation is less than $2,000.

The reality is medical evacuations start in the many thousands of dollars. Thirty-four per cent of survey respondents were also not likely to purchase travel insurance for their next trip. Of those, more than a third mistakenly believe they are covered by their province when outside of Canada.

Additional misconceptions about travel insurance coverage include: one in five Canadians are unaware of lost luggage insurance; 55 per cent are unaware of severe weather insurance; 43 per cent are unaware of insurance for missing connecting flights; and 24 per cent of Canadians are unaware of illness insurance.

A report from the Canadian Trade Commission estimates that close to 500,000 Canadian snowbirds currently spend their winter in Florida.


It’s also worth noting that the number of banking records the Canadian government is sharing with U.S. tax authorities under a controversial information sharing deal has increased sharply. The Canada Revenue Agency sent 900,000 financial records belonging to Canadian residents to the IRS in September, nearly a third more than it sent the previous year. The records were for the 2018 tax year.

It also has updated the number of records shared for the 2017 tax year to 700,000 from the 600,000 originally reported.


Does winter get any more magical than skating through a forest alongside hundreds of tiki torches lighting the way? The Arrowhead skating trail is hosting their magical Fire & Ice nights for 2020. It’s time to get excited.

Arrowhead Provincial Park is once again proving they’re the best at winter activities by bringing back the popular torch-lit skating trail that runs through the park.

The park is located in Huntsville and year after year people flock to the skating trail. While a long and winding ice trail through the forest is already an amazing winter experience, Arrowhead turns it up a notch. On special nights throughout the season, the edges of the ice trail are lit with over 200 tiki torches to make it a magical night-time experience.

On those special days you can skate along the 1.3-kilometre trail through the forest from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The fire & ice night schedule is Jan. 4, 11, 16, Feb. 1, 14, 20 and 29 and March 7 and 14.


The annual tree lighting ceremony at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto is slated for Nov. 28. A great number of Chatham-Kent and Sarnia-Lambton residents make the Royal York their home away from home during trips to Toronto.


Speaking of Toronto, the Holiday Fair in the Square – Nathan Phillips Square – runs from Dec. 7 to 23. Combining the charm and elegance of a Christmas market with the excitement and allure of a thriving winter carnival, Fair in the Square is a new Toronto holiday tradition.

And the 115th Toronto Santa Claus parade will take place on Sunday in downtown Toronto. The parade will start in the east end of the city at Bloor and Parliament Streets at noon and will head west on Bloor Street before turning south on University Avenue.


WinterFest at Canada’s Wonderland will take place from Nov. 22 to Dec. 31. The giant amusement park will be magically transformed into a winter wonderland full of enchantment and holiday cheer.


Santa Claus is going to be a busy guy over the next several weeks visiting towns in Chatham-Kent and Southwestern Ontario. A list of Santa parades includes Tilbury on Nov. 29 at 7 p.m., Blenheim and Bothwell on Dec. 6, Thamesville on Dec. 13, Ridgetown and Dresden on Dec. 14, Kingsville and St. Thomas on Nov. 16, Leamington on Nov. 30, Wheatley on Dec. 1, Petrolia and Sarnia on Dec. 7 and Tecumseh on Nov. 22.


The kick-off to the Festival of Lights celebration in Markham is slated for Nov. 22 at 6 p.m. Enjoy live entertainment, vendors, a visit with Santa, a tree lighting ceremony and fireworks display.


Winter is coming! But unlike in Game of Thrones, winter in Toronto brings Canadian classics – hot chocolate and ice skating. A skating rink, about half the size of a National Hockey League playing surface, is being erected outside of Union Station on Front Street.

Skaters of all levels can get a free helmet, skates and skating lessons. Located at the Sir John MacDonald Plaza, the rink will be open from Nov. 29 to Jan. 4.

Union Station will also be hosting free live music concerts and free gift wrapping over the holiday season.


The annual Christmas in Muskoka decorated Christmas tree event at Bradley Centre in Chatham kicks off Nov. 19.


Canada’s original Christkindl Market at Kitchener city hall takes place Dec. 5-8. The medieval German market will offer mulled wine and blacksmith demonstrations. The Kingston outdoor Christmas market Dec. 7 and 8 takes place at the historic Hochelaga Inn.


The 11th annual Yuletide Christmas at the Salvation Army Citadel on Orangewood Boulevard in Chatham is slated for Nov. 23 at 2 p.m. Join in for a journey to Christmas past with story-telling and an old-fashioned sing-along.

Victoria Playhouse in Petrolia will host a Christmas Jamboree Dec. 13, 14 and 15.

Readers are invited to submit their travel questions or suggestions on travel close to home or far away to travel writer Bob Boughner at bobgboughner@gmail.com

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