19 August 2020

Taking care of your car and home insurance before travelling in Canada or the U.S.

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Before you leave Québec, there’s a few things you should do to make sure you, your loved ones, and your belongings are properly protected. It’s important to check if you have the right insurance for your needs when travelling elsewhere in Canada or in the United States. Note that in this post when we say “outside Québec” we’re referring to just Canada and the U.S.

Your car insurance outside Québec

No matter how long your trip, there are a few steps you should take with your car insurance before you leave Québec. Generally speaking, the coverage you choose when you take out your policy is designed to protect you against damage during the use of your vehicle primarily in Québec. So it’s important to check if it’s still the right coverage for your trip or if it needs to be updated.

Why inform your insurer?

The SAAQ (Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec) insures Quebecers against bodily injury in a motor vehicle accident, whether inside or outside the province. That means your injuries will be covered whether you’re the driver, the passenger, or a pedestrian.

You need car insurance (both in Québec and elsewhere) to cover the risks associated with your vehicle and any physical damage or bodily harm you might cause to others. Depending on the laws in the province or state you want to visit, you need to take out liability car insurance according to the minimum required by law.

While your insurance may be appropriate for Québec, it’s not always right for a trip outside the province. It needs to be adjusted depending on your situation, as your insurance amount and coverage options won’t be the same if you’re travelling outside Québec. Your insurance company is in the best position to advise you.

The only way to be sure your car insurance is right for your vacation needs is to tell your insurer what your plans are. They’ll be able to tell you what to do to be covered everywhere you plan to travel.

What formalities need to be completed?

You’ll have to complete a few formalities to get the right insurance for your situation. Your insurer will tell you exactly what to do. If you let them know ahead of time, you’ll get the best advice for the coverage you need. For example, they may recommend:

  • Putting your car into long-term storage
  • Adding certain endorsements
  • Updating your coverage amounts
  • Choosing a new car insurance policy

Putting your car into long-term storage

We’re not talking about storing your car for a simple three-week vacation. But if no one is going to be using your vehicle for a long period of time, you should have the necessary mechanical work done and put it into storage in a secure location. Completing this formality with the SAAQ and your insurer lets you reduce the cost of any unnecessary coverage for the duration of the time your car is put away.

Endorsement QEF-27

You can also add Endorsement QEF-27 to your car insurance policy. It covers the financial consequences of any damage you’re responsible for to a vehicle that doesn’t belong to you, such as a borrowed or rented car. This clause may already be included in your comprehensive coverage, but you should check with your insurance company and find out what the insurance amount in the endorsement is.

The amount of insurance you carry when travelling outside Québec should match the value of the vehicle you’re renting or borrowing. If you’re planning to rent a luxury car or a recreational vehicle, you should talk to your insurer to see if you have the right amount of coverage. The same goes for the amount of your liability insurance.

Other important measures

To make sure you have enough coverage, your insurer will most likely advise you to make other adjustments to your policy, such as increasing your liability insurance amount. While you’re required by law to be insured for $50,000 in Québec, you may need to carry at least $2 million for your trip.

You’ll need to choose collision coverage and extended coverage for all drivers travelling with you. If you’re planning to drive your own car, you may want to opt for roadside assistance insurance, especially if your vehicle is hard to repair, like a motorhome. Your insurer will make recommendations based on your situation.

Your home insurance before your trip

Your car insurance isn’t the only thing you may need to adjust before you leave. You should also look at your home insurance, which is there to protect your property, whether you’re a homeowner, condo owner, or tenant. Naturally you’ll want to check if it’s suited for your needs or if you should take any particular measures to prepare for your trip out of province.

Why should you check your home insurance?

Your home insurance policy is issued based on the understanding that your home will be occupied on a daily basis. That is how the agreement is formulated and also how the premium is calculated. If you plan to leave your home for a period of time, you need to check with your insurer to make sure you have enough coverage for your new situation.

Home insurance must be updated to match the use you make of your home. When you go on vacation, your home is considered unoccupied but not vacant. In such a case, you should tell your insurer how long you will be away and they will tell you what measures to take depending on the circumstances.

What are some different scenarios?

Your insurer needs to know the condition of your home before you return from vacation in order to recommend the right home insurance. They need to take the particular situation surrounding your absence into consideration. If someone else will be living in your home, you should adjust your home insurance for that time.

Whether you’re a homeowner or a tenant, the key question will be whether you’re renting or subleasing your home. Also note that if you leave your home for a certain period of time during the heating season, your insurer may refuse to cover damage caused by your pipes freezing.

Last but not least, if you’re away for a long time, you may need to take additional steps to prevent damage to your home. Your condo association may even require it if you’re a co-owner. Your insurance company will advise you to take some precautions before leaving for vacation to ensure you’re covered.

What should you do before your trip?

To persuade your insurance company to maintain your home insurance over an extended absence, you need to inform them ahead of time and take the measures they recommend. You’ll have to make some adjustments to your coverage and take the necessary precautions to reduce the risk of nasty surprises when you get back home. Adjusting your home insurance for a long absence will ensure you’re well protected.

If you follow all these steps, you’ll have peace of mind and your insurer will most likely be able to insure you* despite your temporary absence. To learn more about your policy exclusions in different circumstances, talk to your representative.

Before you travel outside Québec, make sure you check what coverage you need. Your car insurance and home insurance will need to be adjusted to ensure you’re fully protected, regardless of how long you’re gone and where you’re going.

*Some restrictions apply.