Becoming a Snowbird is the day that most people wait for virtually their entire lives. Leaving the cold winters behind and trading the snow for days in the sun. Chances are if you’ve been dreaming about being a snowbird for years, you also have your accommodations lined up and are ready to hit the road.
But before you cruise out of the blustery air, there are some housekeeping items you shouldn’t overlook. Things you may never have thought about in your old lifestyle of one primary residence now may be something you need to look into or make changes on.
Keeping Your Home Insured
Why would anything at your primary residence need to change under insurance? It’s still your home, right, so why would the insurance company care that you aren’t there for an extended time? The truth is, some policies actually have a clause that states that if you are not in your home for so many days during the winter months, they can actually let your policy lapse.
It is very important to make sure your insurance is right for your new lifestyle.
Of course, not all policy requirements are bad. This is a great time to discuss your policy and any upgrades you may have made to your home that can qualify you for discounts. One common thing that many snowbirds have invested in is a security system. Not only does it give them peace of mind while they are relaxing away, but for some insurance companies, it means big savings.
Pro-actively Preparing to be Away
You’re excited to get out of the cold weather, but unfortunately your home still remains up north. Because of this, you will need to take some actions to make sure it stays safe while you are gone. Not only security, but also with some general housekeeping.
One of the biggest problems of snowbirds are burst pipes. When temperatures drop and you are home, you know to open cabinets and let the water drip to keep your pipes open. When you are away, this is not possible. It is an important practice to turn the water off at your home, if you are able, while you are away. This prevents water from sitting in the pipes and ruining your home if they do end up bursting. Being gone for months at a time with a burst pipe could mean irreparable damage to your home and your belongings.
Other housekeeping items to consider are things like stopping the mail or paper delivery, paying someone to shovel your driveway so your home doesn’t look empty through the winter, and traveling with all important documents and valuables so that if something were to happen, you have the important items with you. If you don’t feel safe traveling with them, consider a lock box at the bank or a mounted, fireproof safe.
Check in on your Health Insurance
Most insurance companies cover you for urgent and emergent visits while you are on vacation, because unfortunately sometimes things happen. But when you are gone for months at a time, it is very likely that you will need to see a doctor or have routine health needs taken care of.
Being a Snowbird is not a new concept, so insurance companies already have plans in place and rules and regulations set up, so you have what you need. Now is the time to review provincial health insurance rules so you don’t miss out.
Knowing your specific area’s timeframe on how long you must be in your home each year is essential. Some insurance companies require a minimum of six months at home, while some requirements aren’t as strict. This is certainly one of those things you don’t want to take a guess on. Make sure your coverage remains in effect and covers you the whole time you are gone.
Supplemental travel insurance is another safeguard to traveling. Travel insurance is a non-negotiable if you are traveling outside of the country. This is the easiest way to make sure you are covered for anything you may need, saving you potentially thousands of dollars in medical bills should the need for a doctor arise.
Another checkmark on your to-do list is to check in with your auto insurance company and make sure you are covered out of state. In most cases, you will be fine, but you may need to adjust your coverage depending on the place you are traveling to. Just like home insurance, auto insurance has a limitation on how long you can be gone from your primary residence and still remain covered as a resident of that state. It is best to have all of the answers before actually needing to file a claim.
Once all of those questions have been answered, insurance companies have been contacted, and all policies are up to date, you are ready to pack up the car and head south on a new adventure as a Snowbird.