With our record-breaking cold winter now behind us, many of you are looking forward to a well-deserved vacation. You may have already been counting down the days! But before you pack, add insurance to your checklist because it is often overlooked.
If your home is going to be unoccupied during your vacation, call your broker because most policies limit the length of time your home can be empty without it affecting your coverage. Once you find out what your policy states, you can plan effectively. It could be as easy as asking a friend or family member to do a walk-through of your home every three days and shutting off your water.
Are you renting a car on your vacation? If you rent a car in Canada or the United States, your auto insurance policy in Ontario may have the endorsement OPCF 27, which will allow you the option to decline purchasing the rental car insurance coverage. Your broker can advise you on this coverage, and it is a conversation best had prior to your departure – not at the airport when picking up your car.
While you are travelling, are your contents covered under your current home insurance policy? Probably, but limits and/or exclusions could apply. For example, theft of contents from your vehicle could be limited to $3,000 but might be $10,000 if your suitcases were left in your hotel instead of in the car. Jewelry and camera equipment could also be limited, so again discuss your policy with your broker before you leave.
Finally, check your medical insurance. You do not want to go out of province without additional medical insurance. You may already have this coverage through your plan at work, so review it to see that you meet any pre-existing conditions in your policy. A change in your medication, even if it is a decrease in medication in the last three to six months, could affect your policy, so call to verify. If a change has affected your policy, you should purchase additional coverage to ensure that you are adequately covered while on holiday. Some policies also exclude scuba diving, parasailing or zip-lining, among other higher risk activities. Make sure you find out all of this information before you leave for your trip so that you may plan accordingly.
I have had to use my medical insurance in the United States twice, and each time it was very easy and did not disrupt my vacation or my pocketbook. I called the number on my travel card and explained the medical situation and my location, and their customer service rep directed me to a hospital in the first instance and a clinic in the second, less-serious instance. At the hospital, a nurse was waiting for us in the lobby and my family member was taken in to be seen immediately. We had all the necessary procedures, were diagnosed, given a prescription, a copy of the X-rays and a follow-up appointment for the following week and were back at our vacation home within three hours. We did not pay a dime and did not need to provide a credit card. We just showed our identification to confirm who we were, and the travel insurance company took care of the rest. If an accident or illness creeps up suddenly while you are on vacation, it is not ideal, but hopefully it’s just a bump in the road and not a complete disruption of your vacation.
So make sure all of your insurance is in place and effective for you and your family. Keeping insurance on your to-do list when planning your vacation can ensure that your trip is as stress-free as you imagined it on those cold winter days!
Donna Danks is a registered insurance broker with 21 years of experience at Pine Ridge Insurance.
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