Snowbird Car Insurance

Winter 2016 CSANews Issue 101  |   Posted date : Dec 12, 2016.Back to list

Bird talk - Le Jaseur
After reading about the 180-day maximum vehicle insurance coverage period when in the U.S. in the last CSA News issue, I also contacted my Certas/State Farm agent, who was unaware of the 180-day limit but was subsequently advised by HQ that this is indeed (and has been) an annual maximum.

He claims that this is a maximum out-of-country insurance limit for any car, from any company, and was rounded down from a 183-day out-of-country limit to maintain provincial licence plate validity, all of which was news to me.
Perhaps this has been reviewed in the past by CSA News (I’m a fairly new subscriber) but, as a U.S. snowbird who usually drives, I have (in some years) apparently been without vehicle insurance for a couple of days.

Especially with entry-and-exit data likely soon to be more broadly shared, this is an important piece of information for many snowbirds who may currently be focused on health insurance and on their 182-day annual and rolling year limit for a stay in the U.S.

If the seven-months' time allowance for some seniors is ever approved by Congress, things will become even more interesting with respect to this insurance issue.

B. R. Close
Ontario

Response:
Ed.: I can’t believe that every insurance agent in Canada is not very, very aware of this restriction! But it gets worse. On your original application for insurance (which may have been completed many years ago), you would have to have told the insurer that your car was going to be in the United States for an extended period of time. If not, in the event of a claim (in the U.S.), the insurer would have the right to cancel your policy because they were not given ALL the facts of its use – and they would deny the claim, of course. Their position is that, if they had knowledge of your six months in the U.S., they would not have given you a policy in the first place.

When taking your car to the U.S. for longer than 30 days, you MUST notify your insurance company. I would tell them that you do this every year and then you do not have to notify them again. In a perfect world, have them confirm in writing that you are covered.

And it gets worse again…many insurers have much tighter restrictions than six months. Some say that you cannot have your vehicle outside of Canada for longer than three months, or even 30 days. Every insurer is different! And, of course, you will normally be charged an extra fee; sometimes a huge fee. Using the CSA’s Auto/Home program is a very good option. The insurer knows in advance that you will be away for extended periods. In provinces with government insurance, it is also important to notify your agent.

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