For most Quebecers, the end of fall means the start of the coldest season of the year and a blanket of snow on the ground. For others, it’s the moment they’ve been waiting for: the time to pack their bags and seek warmth elsewhere. I’m sure you’ve already guessed that I’m talking about our dear snowbirds. If you want to fully enjoy your time in the sun, there are some prevention measures to implement before you can put on your shorts and sandals. Here are some things to consider before leaving on your long trip.
- Make a list of emergency contacts: It is important to ask one of your friends or family members to visit your home on a regular basis. By doing so, the person can pick up your mail and ensure that there are no issues in your home during your absence. In addition, think about providing the person with a list of emergency numbers, as well as that of your insurer, in case a problem occurs.
- Maintaining the property: It is of the utmost importance that your home is maintained during your absence. You are responsible for any damage that may occur within the perimeter of your property, so you must ensure that snow is removed from your driveway, steps, and roof as needed. As a preventative measure, ask a neighbour to put salt on your steps during freezing periods to ensure that no one falls and gets hurt.
- Water damage: To minimize the chance of water damage occurring during your absence, we suggest that you drain your pipes and turn off the water supply to your household appliances. It is recommended that you keep the temperature of your home above 16 °C to prevent your pipes from freezing. The risks of this occurring are minimal, but it is better to contact a plumber to ensure that the process is carried out properly. Don’t forget that during the normal heating period, when a home is unoccupied for 4 or more days, breakage due to freezing will not be covered unless a competent person has gone to the home every day to ensure that the heating system is functional, or unless you had shut off the water and emptied the pipes and appliances before you left. The number of days before your home will be considered unoccupied can vary based on the insurer. It is therefore important to contact your broker to find out how many days it would be for you.
- Lighting: To reduce the risk of theft in your home, it is recommended that you install a timer for your outdoor and indoor lighting systems. Whether the timer is used for a small lamp in the living room or a night light, it will give the impression that your home is being lived in while you are away.
Now that we have covered home insurance, I will provide you with some advice regarding other areas of insurance.
- If you plan to use your vehicle outside of the country, it is very important to check with your insurer the number of days you can use your vehicle outside of Quebec. Depending on the length of your trip, an additional premium may be required to cover the use of your vehicle for that period.
- Make sure that your civil liability coverage is at least $2,000,000. This amount is necessary because of the very litigious culture that is pervasive in the United States. In addition, while Quebec is protected by the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec, the United States has no organization that serves to protect victims from bodily harm. Among the costs included in the civil liability amount are legal fees and benefits. In addition, it is often forgotten that the exchange rate must be applied on these conditions and that your $2,000,000 coverage is equal to more or less $1,500,000 in the end. It is not uncommon for plaintiffs to carry out research about you and find out information about your personal life. Therefore, it is important to understand that the more considerable your family wealth, the higher third-party demands will be.
- If you spend several days or weeks outside of the country each year, you can increase your civil liability coverage amount. Umbrella insurance extends the civil liability coverage that is part of your home insurance policy, providing you with additional coverage of between $1 million and $2 million. This protection will enable you to travel with peace of mind, no matter your destination.
TRAVEL INSURANCE, MEDICATION, AND VALUABLE DOCUMENTS
Before you leave, it is essential that you purchase travel insurance, since accidents can happen so fast. If you get sick or injured, no matter where you are, there could be major consequences if you don’t have adequate coverage. To avoid such a situation, contact your Lareau broker with your departure and return dates. In addition, think about mentioning your destination, since a number of insurance companies offer products specifically for snowbirds.
If you take medication on a regular basis, don’t forget to go see your pharmacist before you leave to ensure that you have enough medication for the trip.
When it comes to your documents, make sure to have a copy of your travel insurance certificate with the emergency phone number. In addition, if you are travelling by car, make sure that your licence has been renewed and paid before getting on the road.
Now that you have all the information you need to prepare for your departure, you can leave with peace of mind. While it can sometimes be exhausting to think of so many things, being well prepared for your trip could save you a lot of trouble in the long run.
Enjoy your vacation, everyone!