As the rain continues to fall here on the west coast, as is typically this time of year, local snowbirds are getting eager to head south in search of sunny days and warmer temperatures. With that in mind, here are some important issues to keep track of for those of us heading south for the winter:
Proper health coverage is essential. If you stay longer than your plan says you will, insurers are under no obligation to cover a claim. Make sure to adhere to your dates, and if you think you may stay longer contact your insurance provided as soon as possible so they can update your information.
US Substantial Presence
Everyday you are in the US counts towards tracking of your three year US presence. If you meet this test, you will be deemed a US resident for tax purposes. Not only could this result in an unexpected tax bill, but negligence of this may result in being turned back at the border. For more information, see our US Tax Matters article.
Home insurance policies may contain provisions that limit the amount of time the home can be left unoccupied and still be covered. Make sure you have a relative or trusted friend checking on your home regularly while you are away to ensure your insurance coverage is valid in the event of a claim.
Temporary Service Suspension
To save a bit of money while you are away, a number of services can be suspended. Some service providers allow for your home phone, tv, and internet to be temporarily suspended while you are gone. Note that you will likely still be charged a small fee, but this can still be worth for those with extended visits.
Make sure to set up mail forwarding with Canada Post. If you don’t, not only could you miss potentially important letters, but a mailbox stuffed with old letters is a tell-tale sign for thieves that your house is unoccupied and an easy target for theft.
If you are planning on frequently visiting the US, setting up a US dollar bank account is a good idea. Both TD Bank and RBC offer their clients bank accounts with their US affiliates, which can make payments easier. This also reduces your exposure to foreign exchange risk, and you will save money by avoiding foreign transaction fees that Canadian banks charge when using a US bank ATM to withdraw cash and make debit purchases.