My parents decided last year that enough was enough. They had had it. They were finally going to leave frigid Canada for warmer climes for the winter.
As I stewed with envy over the pictures of the Arizona vacation resorts they were considering, I started to wonder about their house, which is located on an acreage with very few neighbours around other than the deer. We live a good hour away, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep an eye on it while they were gone. I began to picture them returning home to their rambling bungalow taken over by clever wildlife looking for a comfortable and warm abode, or worse, not-so-clever humans looking for a place to rip off.
Talk to Your Home Insurance Company
My parents called their insurance broker to see what kind of protection their current coverage plan offered. As it turned out, and as I suspected, they needed to supplement their current policy because they were planning on spending half the year outside the country, and their coverage didn’t include extended trips of that length. Most home insurance policies have exclusions that kick in 30 to 60 days after you leave. After that time is up, your coverage becomes invalidated under what is usually called a “neglect” or “abandonment of property” clause.
Check Your Vehicle Coverage
My dad loves to drive, so I wasn’t surprised to learn my parents were planning on taking their car down to their vacation destination. Based on what they found out about their home insurance, they thought it was wise to check in on their auto insurance, too. While the U.S. is a very familiar place to many Canadians, it is still a different country! My dad’s broker told him that anyone taking their vehicle out of Canada for more than 30 days should contact their insurance provider before hitting the road, and that adding rental vehicle coverage might be a good idea in case there were break-downs or accidents along the way.
3. Travel Insurance: A Necessity
One thing about the U.S.: it isn’t exactly the best place to be without health insurance.
My parents are in pretty good shape, but even so, they’re getting older and there’s no telling when something could go wrong. Provincial health insurance does offer limited forms of coverage to Canadian citizens travelling outside the country, but it is nowhere near complete.
Considering that something as relatively simple as a broken arm could result in a hospital bill north of $25,000, travel insurance is something my entire family will not leave Canada without, whether we’re gone for six days or six months.
4. Keeping Things Safe While You’re Away
Before they left, my dad and me headed out to their property to set up some traps to keep either the wayward wildlife or humans out.
First of all, we asked my parents’ closest neighbor to drop by as much as they could to make sure nothing terrible had happened in the interim. We also cancelled their newspaper and magazine subscriptions, and had their mail redirected to my house.
We then made sure their motion detector lights were working, pointed in the right direction and loaded with new bulbs, and moved the valuables that were visible through the windows into concealed locations, or in some cases, into their safe. We set up some timers inside, too, to turn lamps on and off in different rooms throughout the evening, and also went around checking that appliances were turned off and unplugged.
And finally, we had a good hug before they abandoned me for the winter.
To keep your home safe at all times, here are some more great resources for homeowners in Alberta and Ontario: