If you are one of the more than 500,000 Canadians who leave the country for warmer climes during the winter, make sure you have snowbird insurance before you go. It’s also highly advisable to check on all your other policies with your insurance broker or provider to ensure you are covered under all circumstances while away.
Snowbird insurance for travel
Snowbird insurance differs from regular travel insurance in a few ways, describes the Canadian Underwriter. A snowbird insurance policy provides a wider range and more detailed medical coverage, including hospitalization and treatment, the need for an emergency return to Canada, repatriation of remains and more. Policies are designed specifically for those aged 55 and higher who are going on extended trips of 90 days or longer and have a greater focus on extended medical coverage that younger travellers may not be as concerned with. Comprehensive emergency coverage can extend to $5 million, which is particularly important in countries such as the U.S. where the cost of hospitalization and treatment can quite easily reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Travel assistance may also be included to help with difficult situations and medical emergencies.
Insurance brokers such as us at Lane’s have the experience and expertise necessary to make sure all of your snowbird insurance needs are covered. We know the right questions to ask to access the correct policy for you, and are able to fully explain the differences between travel insurance policies, plus their benefits and risks.
In addition to extended medical coverage, snowbird insurance policies may include options such as:
Flight delay and lost baggage insurance: Coverage typically includes reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses if your baggage is delayed for a certain number of hours, or replacement of clothing, toiletries, or important documents such as your passport or drivers license.
Trip cancellation and interruption insurance: Coverage will reimburse you for costs if you have to cancel, delay, or cut your trip short at the last minute.
A rental car damage waiver and accidental death and dismemberment coverage are also available, plusmore.
Home insurance while you are away
The vast majority of home insurance policies contain clauses identifying steps homeowners must take to maintain their coverage while their home is unoccupied. Specific requirements vary from policy to policy, so if you’re in doubt about what you need to do to maintain your coverage while you’re out of town, check your policy or call your insurance company. You will need to have someone physically check your property for the duration of your absence as your policy stipulates. Make sure that person knows how to contact you as well as your insurance company in the event of an emergency. Depending on how long you are away, you may also have to turn off certain utilities, particularly your water, to eliminate the risk of accidental water damage, which is one of the most common types of insurance claims.
Turn off the main water valve to your home and run the taps until they are dry. Flush all of your toilets to drain the tanks as well. Consider monitoring your home remotely with a comprehensive security system or temperature and moisture monitors to receive instant alerts if your heating system stops working or your plumbing backs up during your absence. Experts also stress the importance of temperature monitors for water heaters, as an unaddressed water heater malfunction can cause major damage if not attended to right away.
Car insurance in the U.S.
Canadian car insurance is valid in the U.S. as long as you have a valid drivers licence as well. Ensure you have your licence and registration renewed properly before you leave so they don’t expire while you are away. When you enter the U.S., fill out a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Form 3299 – Declaration for Free Entry of Unaccompanied Articles and carefully list all of the personal items in your car. Also fill out a Canada Border Services Agency Form E-15: Certificate of Destruction/Exportation to avoid paying duty and taxes on your personal items when you come back.
Car insurance in Mexico
Your Alberta car insurance policy is not valid south of the U.S. border. You must purchase Mexican car insurance at the border or before you cross. Purchasing your policy before you get to the border can help you save on premiums, and you will likely receive a better, more complete explanation of your policy.
Three of the main car insurance in Mexico providers are ACE Seguros, El Aguila, and Grupo Nacional Provincial, which are the most highly recommended. Policies are purchasable online.
Generally, questions that will be asked are:
- What liability limits you would like (we recommend at least $500,000 USD)
- The type of vehicle you drive
- The value of the vehicle
- The dates you will be in Mexico
- Where you will be travelling in Mexico (which states you will visit)
- The age of the driver
- If you will be towing anything
Without proper coverage, if you are in an accident or incident and a claim needs to be filed you could face heavy fines and even end up in prison until the claim is settled. This process could take several months (or even years) until your ability to pay the penalty is determined. You may also be prevented from leaving the country, even if you require urgent medical care.
Depart worry-free with Lane’s Insurance
We are a leading provider of travel insurance and a complete range of related products that cover every aspect of your travel needs. Contact us at:
- Our Calgary office
- Our Edmonton office
- Our Banff office
- Serving the rest of Alberta