Valu­able tips for bud­ding snow­birds

Metro Canada (Toronto) - - Culture -

Ev­ery year, soon af­ter Hal­loween is over, Cana­di­ans head south in droves, look­ing to es­cape the plung­ing tem­per­a­tures and the im­pend­ing snow­falls.

Though snow­birds might spend the win­ter months loung­ing on Florida’s beaches, ex­plor­ing the Cal­i­for­nia coast, golf­ing in Ari­zona or even ranch hop­ping in Texas, there’s a lot of work they need to do be­fore they can re­lax in the sun.

There is a moun­tain of in­sur­ance reg­u­la­tions, tax im­pli­ca­tions and other lit­tle-known poli­cies to come to grips with.

Health care

“Your Cana­dian med­i­cal care does not travel with you,” says Evan Rachkovsky, the Cana­dian Snow­bird As­so­ci­a­tion (CSA)’S di­rec­tor of re­search and com­mu­ni­ca­tions. That means shop around for med­i­cal in­sur­ance and ask about cov­er­age lim­its and the cur­rency they’re cal­cu­lated in be­fore trav­el­ling.

Bank­ing and cur­rency Get a U.S. credit card from a Cana­dian provider to avoid get­ting “dinged with in­ter­est rates or fees” when us­ing your reg­u­lar, Cana­dian card, says Terry Ritchie, the di­rec­tor of cross-bor­der wealth ser­vices at Car­di­nal Point Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment Inc.

When ex­chang­ing cur­rency, skip banks and use whole­sale providers that of­fer more com­pet­i­tive rates, Ritchie says. He’s no­ticed Knights­bridge For­eign Ex­change or Cana­dian Forex tend to have good deals.

Prop­erty in­sur­ance Most don’t know it, but buried in the fine print of home in­sur­ance poli­cies is of­ten a line re­quir­ing that some­one mon­i­tor your place while you’re away.

“If the pipes burst or there’s snow dam­age, it might not be cov­ered, if you didn’t have some­one watch your home for you,” warns Ritchie.

Travel in­sur­ance Travel in­sur­ance is a good idea when head­ing across the bor­der be­cause it can save you when flights are can­celled or de­layed, lug­gage is lost or your cruise­line, air­line or other travel op­er­a­tor goes out of busi­ness.

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