Although travellers from near and far love Canada’s shifting seasons, not all people appreciate the coldest months of the year. In Alberta, we have a large population of “snowbirds” who live here in the summer and head south to find a milder climate in the winter months.
If you’re one of our resident snowbirds, you know that leaving your home unoccupied while you’re away can be a bit stressful. Whether you’re headed to California, Arizona, Mexico, or all the way “down under,” it’s important to look after the home you’re leaving behind (and your own safety and wellbeing while you travel). It’s also important to look after your vehicles, and of course, yourself. With that in mind, there are three ways you can protect yourself and your property while you’re away.
LEAVING YOUR HOME UNOCCUPIED
There are a few risks that intensify when you leave your home unattended for lengthy periods of time. These include weather-related events like water damage or storm damage, as well as fire, theft, and vandalism.
Although your home insurance will cover your home even while you’re away during the winter, your specific policy may outline some extra precautionary measures you’re required to take to mitigate loss.
These measures could include:
- Draining the water in your pipes to prevent flooding or freezing
- Having someone check on your home daily while you’re away
- Setting up and checking security systems regularly
Keep in mind that this information is intended for when your home is left unoccupied and you intend to return to it. Vacant home insurance may be necessary if you are not planning on returning to your home to live in it. Vacant home insurance is a different type of policy altogether. Stay tuned for a blog post on this subject or contact a Cornerstone Insurance broker to learn what the difference is and what you need.
LEAVING YOUR VEHICLE BEHIND OR TAKING IT WITH YOU
If you’re planning on leaving your vehicle(s) behind when you head south, you may have an opportunity to save money on your car insurance premiums while you’re away. As long as you’ll have the vehicle(s) parked on private property in Alberta, you’ll be able to call your vehicle insurance broker and have them change your policy details, including cutting out your collision insurance.
Be sure to give your broker a date for when you get back or reach out as soon as you arrive home to ensure seamless coverage once you’re back to driving.
On the other hand, if you’re planning on driving to your international destination, you’ll still want to call your broker. He or she will be able to tell you if you need to set up out-of-country coverage depending on your destination and the length of your stay to guarantee you and your vehicle are covered while driving down south.
PERSONAL TRAVEL INSURANCE
Taking care of your home is important, but taking care of your body is essential. As soon as you’re leaving Canada, you’ll want a robust travel insurance policy in place that will last as long as you’re gone.
Travel insurance can mean a lot of things, including cancellation coverages, lost luggage, and travel delays. However, the most important reason to get travel insurance is to guarantee adequate medical insurance in another country.
Your government health insurance plan won’t cover you beyond Canada’s borders. Emergency medical travel coverage will ensure you aren’t left with a staggering medical bill after unexpected injuries or emergencies.
Luckily, travel insurance plans are easy to set up before you go. You can choose a short plan that only covers a single trip, or you can get multi-trip insurance that covers you for a limited number of trips throughout the year. The latter is usually more affordable, and it works well if you’re planning on travelling more than once.
HOW TO GET SET UP BEFORE A TRIP
If you plan to leave your home or vehicle in Alberta for an extended period of time while you’re away this winter, be sure to reach out to your broker and check or change your coverage details. For simple travel insurance solutions, you can always reach out to a Cornerstone Insurance broker.
At Cornerstone Insurance, we’re here to help you, whether you’re a client of ours or just have insurance questions. Feel free to reach out any time so we can help you understand your policy and spot where the gaps are. And lastly, enjoy your trip down south!