Snowbird Checklist: Preparing for a Stay Down South

By AMA Staff

Despite the many wonderful reasons to stay in Alberta, we know that wintering down south does have its perks. But whether you’re headed to Palm Springs, Scottsdale or even farther afield, there are some things to keep in mind to ensure your sunny vacation isn’t struck by a (figurative) storm.

Arrange for someone to check your home regularly. Most insurance companies require that someone regularly check on your home when you’re away for more than 72 hours.

Ask a trusted friend or family member to perform those checks.

Arrange for mail to be collected, held at the post office or forwarded.

Drain pipes and shut off your water, and put lights on timers.

Suspend unnecessary services (e.g. internet).

Buy a battery tender if you’ll be leaving your vehicle at home. The tender will maintain your car battery’s proper storage voltage—and provide peace of mind that your vehicle will start when you next need it.

Straight answers about travel medical insurance from AMA

Let your insurance advisor know if you’re taking in a boarder while you’re away—to care for pets, plants and security. Having a board can affect your coverage and premiums.

Purchase travel medical insurance before your trip. If you have to fill out a medical questionnaire, do so as completely and accurately as possible. If you’re unsure of an answer, ask your doctor.

Pick up your prescriptions. Get enough of any needed medications to last the duration of your stay. Keep them in their original packages with prescription labels, and retain receipts.

Get familiar with healthcare options at your destination, so that you can access care more efficiently in case of illness or emergency.

Make sure important documents are valid for your trip’s duration: passport, driver’s licence and vehicle registration, Alberta health card, bank and credit cards, etc. 

Snowbird length-of-stay rules: What you need to know

Renting a car? Consider adding an rental coverage to your insurance policy. For about $30, this add-on extends your own vehicle’s collision, comprehensive and specific perils coverage to a rental vehicle in Canada and the U.S.

Always carry your AMA card. It covers you anywhere in North America. With it, you can receive roadside assistance in the U.S., as well as other countries around the world. Plus you can save at 160,000 AMARewards partner locations worldwide.

Don’t overstay your welcome. Most countries, including the U.S., restrict the number of days you can visit in a given period. Stay too long and you may be considered a resident for tax purposes.