null Home and auto insurance go-to guide for snowbirds

1. Will my Canadian auto policy cover me while I’m in the United States?

Yes – Canada and the USA have a reciprocal agreement that allows drivers from both countries to use their own auto insurance while traveling across the border. Just keep in mind that, if you plan to stay in the U.S. for longer than 4 weeks, you may need to pay a higher insurance premium to keep your cross-border coverage for your entire trip. To avoid any unwanted surprises, get in touch with your insurance provider before you leave to share your travel plans and confirm your coverage.

2. Should I get any additional insurance coverage to drive in the USA?

In most provinces in Canada, it’s mandatory to have a minimum of $200,000 in third party liability coverage to protect you if you’re found at-fault for an accident that injures someone or damages their property. If the state you’re staying in has their own minimum requirement that’s higher than what you currently have on your policy, then you may need to upgrade your coverage limit to ensure you’re adequately protected. We typically recommend $1 million - $2 million in third-party liability coverage, but be sure to check the specific requirements of the state you’re traveling to.

3. How long can I travel with my Canadian vehicle in the states?

If you’re a Canadian resident, you can usually travel with your vehicle in the United States for up to 25 weeks (180 days) per year. However, you’ll want to make sure your auto insurance will cover you for the entire duration of your trip. Many providers will only extend cross-border coverage for a certain number of days before you’ll need to modify your policy more significantly to stay protected.

You may need to also check out the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) website for the state you’re planning to stay in or contact a DMV directly to confirm if they have any requirements in advance, such as obtaining a non-resident permit. Be sure you get all the details before you depart.

4. What do I need to know if I'm leaving my car behind?

If you’re not bringing your vehicle with you (and no one else will be driving it in your absence), then you may want to put it in storage, since storing it for long periods could help you save on your premiums. You can contact your insurance company or log in to your Online Services account to make this change quickly and easily. Just remember that – if you decide to come home earlier than planned – you’ll need to let your insurer know so they can reinstate your regular coverage before you get back behind the wheel. Forgetting to do so could put you at risk of not being covered if you’re involved in an accident – so save a reminder in your phone or mark your calendar.

5. How long can I leave my house unoccupied?

If you’re planning to leave your home or condo unoccupied for more than 30 days, be sure to give your insurance company a heads up so they can explain what you will and will not be covered for depending on how long you will be away. There may be limits on how long your belongings will be protected while away from your home, for example, or other specificities related to your civil liability protection. Being aware of these policy details before you take off is crucial to ensure you’re properly protected.

6. How can I protect my home while I’m away?

If you're leaving for the winter, take steps to prevent your pipes from freezing while you’re away. You may also want to ask a friend or relative to check on your house, set timers on both your indoor and outdoor lights to help prevent theft, and help reduce the risk of fire by ensuring your heat vents aren’t covered or blocked, unplugging any lights and appliances you won’t be using and installing power surge protectors.

For a full list of ways you can protect your home, check out our guides to prepping your house for a long absence and securing your home while you’re away.

Rest easy while you’re away

At the end of the day, doing your research before you hit the road will give you greater peace of mind during your winter escape. Contact your insurance company to discuss your policy details, look into the insurance requirements for the state you’ll be staying in, and make a to-do list of all the items you’ll want to take care of before heading out. Then you can sit back, relax and enjoy your time away knowing your car and home are properly protected.

Home and auto insurance go-to guide for snowbirds

Ready to ditch our harsh Canadian winter for some sand and sun? We don’t blame you. But before you pack up and head south for the season, there are a few important things to consider. Check out our list of the 6 most commonly asked questions about snowbirds and insurance so you can take the guesswork out of your next winter escape.

These tips are provided for information and prevention purposes only. They are general in nature, and The Personal cannot be held liable for them. We recommend using caution and consulting an expert for comprehensive, tailored advice.

Some conditions, exclusions and limitations may apply. The conditions of the coverages described are set out in the insurance policy, which always prevails.

Auto Insurance is not available in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia due to government-run plans.