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As the cold weather sets in and you lucky Canadian snowbirds flock south for the winter months, it might be worth it to give the ol’ insurance policy a review to see what’s covered and what’s not.

After all, only half of Canadians 50 years and over checked their travel policies before leaving and only 16% called their provider, according to a recent survey by TD Insurance.

Costly Oversights

But it’s not just travel policies that need a review, says Dave Minor,a vice president at TD Insurance. He says there are other snowbird insurance policies that often get overlooked in the chaos of packing to head south.

“Because snowbirds often live out of the country for an extended period of time, their insurance needs are different from most Canadian travellers,” says Minor. “As their travel down south may impact not only travel but medical, auto, recreational vehicle and home – both primary and vacation – insurance policies, it is important for snowbirds to review all policies before leaving home.”

Could Your Trip Void Your Home Coverage?

According to the survey, only 12% of Canadians thought to check into their home policy before leaving.

“Often insurance policies have specific ‘away’ requirements, which, if not fulfilled, could void coverage if your home is left unoccupied and unattended for an extended period of time,” says Minor.

Letting your friends or family borrow your car while you’re away comes with a few hoops to jump through as well.

“While lending a car that remains in Canada, the car remains covered, however, it is advised to contact the insurer and discuss the situation,” says Minor. “The insurer will probably want to obtain more information on who will be driving the vehicle and its use.”

Some insurers may even require a premium surcharge.

If you’re not so charitable with your wheels and plan on taking your car with you, Minor suggests you give your auto insurance provider a ring and consider increasing your liability limit given that claims in the United States can be expensive.

Coverage When You're On The Move

It's also important to insure expensive items you bring with you. Laptops and other valuables such as jewellery, clothes, or fishing/hunting equipment that are stored in your car while you buzz around the coastline will be covered under your homeowner’s policy but it’s best to check with your insurer beforehand to be safe.

If you’re an adventurer and plan to putter around in an RV or motorhome you might need to revise your policy. Insurance protection on recreational vehicles is similar to regular auto insurance but because this vehicle also serves as a home, it requires a unique policy.

“If RV owners are increasing the amount of time they are living in their vehicle – for example living in the unit full-time versus an occasional weekend getaway – then their policy may need to be revised,” says Minor.

Either way, your vacation is supposed to be about relaxation – review your insurance policies and you’ll rest easier.  

Andrew Seale

Andrew Seale is a freelance writer with an absurdly hyperactive mind and predilection towards the obscure and eclectic. He frequently shares his personal finance experiences and mishaps with TheDot readers but has also been known to profile business leaders ranging from financial savants to bootstrapped entrepreneurs. His work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Yahoo Canada Finance and News, Profit Magazine, The Toronto Star, Enroute Magazine, and on the back of napkins sometimes tucked into the pockets of strangers. He can be found at whenwedrift.contently.com.

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