I’m no economist, so I can’t rationalize the argument that a downtrodden loonie may be bad for snowbirds and cross-border shoppers, but good for the economy. The last time I listened to an economist for one of Canada’s biggest banks (and this was about two years ago, at a meeting of travel insurers), he assured us that the days of the 75-cent loonie (meaning one Canadian dollar was only worth 75 US cents) were over: that as the price of oil kept skyrocketing, the loonie would stay close to its cousin—the US greenback.
Well, you know the rest of that story.
What I do know, that most economists don’t, is that snowbirds are a healthy, robust, persistent species who worked hard to earn their retirement, and they’re darned well going to have it.
I also know that so far this year I have seen more cars from Quebec parked in South Florida’s shopping malls than I have in a few years. From Ontario, not so many, but still a respectable number. I admit that my observation is statistically meaningless, but it has been pretty accurate in spotting travel trends in the past.
Well, if the loonie stays where it is, what will this mean to you?
You can buy gas for $2.03 a US gallon, and in some parts of central Florida it has already dipped below that. I know, I know, you’ll end up paying for it in Canadian dollars, but it still makes you feel good to fill your tank for $30 USD.
And that 26-ounce bottle of Crown Royal will cost you only $19.99 USD (if you shop where I do).
And Target is still here, giving you prices you used to drive to Buffalo for.
That’s the good stuff. What makes the loonie’s dive worrisome is that if it persists, you’re probably going to see travel insurance premiums hiked, as insurers deal with the dilemma of collecting their premiums in cheap Canadian dollars, but paying claims in increasingly healthy US dollars. And that’s an equation that’s going to hit euro travellers to the US as well as Brits, as both currencies have been losing ground to greenbacks.
Of course, there are those of you who have been packing your US dollar accounts with the loonie when it was healthier, and you deserve the right to say: “I told you so.” Congratulations.
We’ve still got time for an economic turnaround before you have to start shopping for your 2015/16 travel insurance, but very few economics gurus are betting on a turnaround anytime soon. But you are not powerless.
Keep yourself informed and updated on travel insurers’ early-bird specials—lock in preferable rates in early summer for next winter’s travel, monitor currency fluctuations, make your US-dollar bank accounts work for you, look for new travel insurance products that allow savings for deductibles, consider building cheaper annual multi-trip plans into your itineraries, consider more travel throughout Canada, and consider contacting a specialized travel insurance company like Ingle International, that will find the right insurance product to suit the unique travel needs of groups and individuals.
Heading abroad? Do not forget your travel insurance.