Snowbirds: Plan ahead and enjoy your winter down south!
Posted on Wednesday October 30, 2019
Snowbirds: Plan ahead and enjoy your winter down south!
There’s no turning back: fall is definitely here. This year, however, as you admire the flocks of migrating birds flying over your rooftop, you’ve decided to keep your summer clothes out and go spend the winter down south. Whether your destination is Mexico, Florida or Arizona, before you hit the road for warmer climes, you’ll want to review our checklist to ensure you haven’t overlooked anything.
Insurance: Your assurance
It’s fun to pick out your golf clubs, bathing suits and beach reads... but leaving home for an extended period also means making arrangements to keep you and your assets secure. Insurance is a necessary evil that helps avoid major headaches if the unforeseen happens.
Home insurance: Looking after your house
As fun as it is to travel, it always feels good to walk through your own front door after you’ve been away! Especially when your home is still just the way it was when you left it.
Once you’ve finalized the dates of your stay outside of the country, contact your home insurer to advise that you’ll be away for an extended period. Ask about any possible exclusions related to long-term absences or conditions you have to meet to ensure you remain eligible for maximum coverage. For example, your insurer may require that someone enter your home once a week to ensure that all is okay or that you keep your driveway and walk clear of snow.
Your insurer can also advise you about any precautions you should take to minimize the risk of unpleasant surprises, particular with regard to heat, water infiltration, general maintenance and theft prevention measures.
Auto insurance: Hit the road with peace of mind
Driving is a big part of travel for many people. If you opt to head south at the wheel of your car or RV, be sure to share the details of your trip with your insurer so it can ensure that you have proper coverage in place, whether you’re headed to Mexico or the southern U.S. And don’t forget to ask about the procedure to follow if a break-in or accident occurs during your trip.
Before you leave, double-check that your vehicle registration and driver’s licence are up to date. Getting your car inspected and serviced and ensuring that your roadside assistance plan is valid outside of the country are additional precautions you will not regret taking should a problem arise.
Health insurance: Putting you first!
To be eligible for Medicare protection outside of the province, you need to inform the government whenever you plan to leave temporarily; if not, you could lose coverage. To remain covered, you must also spend at least 153 days (consecutive or other) out of every 12-month period in New Brunswick. In other words, you should avoid being out of the province for more than 212 days out of any year.
Contact Service New Brunswick (SNB) at 1-888-762-8600 or visit your nearest SNB location for additional information or to ensure you have coverage.
The government also advises New Brunswick residents who want to head south for several months in the sun to purchase supplemental private insurance to cover any portion of costs not covered by Medicare. Many insurers offer user-friendly websites where you can compare various packages before making your choice.
Keeping track: Managing your money and spending while out of the country
After many years of toil and sacrifice, you’ve finally earned your well-deserved retirement. To avoid letting any of your efforts go to waste, budget realistically so that you can continue heading south for the winter for many years to come!
To give yourself a better idea of how much you’ll be spending while you’re away, consider exchanging a portion of your funds into the target currency before you leave home. The Canadian Snowbird Association offers preferred rates and low (or no) transfer fees for this purpose.
Contact your banking institution for information on using the cards associated with your various accounts outside of the country, as additional transaction fees or higher interest rates could apply. Lastly, take the time to pay down your line of credit card each month, as the interest rate charged generally depends on the current exchange rate.
Small details that make a big difference
Whenever you go on a long trip, there are countless little things that are easy to miss but very important nonetheless. Here are some final items you’ll want to double-check:
– Ensure your passport is still valid.
– Stock up on prescription medications.
– Decide where you will leave your car (if you’re flying down).
– If you’re bringing a pet across the border, ensure its vaccines are up to date.
– If you have a home alarm system and someone will be checking on your house once a week, contact your home security company to let them know.
– Set up timers for certain lights to create the illusion that your house is occupied.
– Suspend your subscriptions (cable, telephone, newspaper, etc.).
– If you’re driving south on summer tires, check the road conditions before you leave!
– Make hotel reservations at your planned stops along the way.
The first flakes may be starting to fall and frost starting to form on your windows, but you’re going to miss the annual tradition of winter this year. No need to wax nostalgic, though: your first Christmas down south will be white all the same... in the form of the sandy beaches that await!
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