Is the Loonie on a Rebound? Plan Ahead…

Now that the loonie has begun its resurgence (let’s hope there’s plenty of bounce left in it), you may want to start planning for next season’s snowbird trip south.

Understand, please, that I am no financial planner, nor am I particularly financially literate. So don’t put your savings on the line on the basis of my musings. However, consider that if the loonie keeps climbing to a more respectable level, you would be wise to gradually replenish your Canadian U.S.-dollar bank account so that next fall when you head south you’ll have a more substantial nest egg.

According to our friends at the Canadian Snowbird Association, the puny loonie had a negative effect on snowbird travel to the U.S. during the 2015–2016 season. Fewer trips were taken, and many were shortened. The biggest impact was felt in south Texas—a particularly dollar-sensitive area.

As tough and stubborn as snowbirds are about holding on to their winter retirement lifestyle, a dollar in the 67- to 70-cent range is a hard fact to accept. But, if some reasonable recovery is underway, you should definitely take advantage of it.

Talk to your financial planner if you have one. Talk to your banker about any new cross-border currency products they may be offering. If you don’t yet have a U.S.-dollar account (as a great many seasoned snowbirds do), consider opening one. It’s a secure way of locking in a currency exchange rate you can live with. But if you’re not sure how to go about it, let your banker advise you how to minimize your risk and maximize your 2016–2017 winter nest egg.

Also, in anticipation that travel insurance premiums may rise due to soaring U.S. hospital and medical costs, seek out travel insurance providers who know their business. There are many travel and insurance agents who “sell” travel health insurance, but not all are equally conversant about the products they sell. Know your agent, and make sure your agent knows his or her travel products.

Over the summer, usually around June, travel insurers will start offering so-called early-bird specials. These are plans you can buy at current prices before new season premium raises go into effect. Compare different plans. Examine them. Learn about them. Don’t rush buying, but don’t wait until the last minute, either. Then if you find a good deal from a reliable vendor, take it and save money.

But understand that if your health changes in any way—and I mean any way—notify your insurer immediately for any modifications that need to be made to your plan. Your contract is made based on your health when the policy comes into effect—not the day you bought it. And if you’re unsure about your medical record (what medications you’re taking, why you’re taking them, the purpose of a recent procedure, some test you’ve been referred for, etc.), ask your doctor to explain it to you in plain language so you can understand and accurately complete any application you are asked for.

A little planning now will make your next snowbird season a lot easier.

For information on travel insurance and products, visit Ingle International.

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