As loonie heads north, snowbirds are predicted to flock south in record numbers

    BURNABY, BC, Oct. 30 /CNW/ - The British Columbia Automobile Association
(BCAA) is predicting a record snowbird exodus to the U.S. this fall and winter
fuelled by the high-flying Canadian dollar. The loonie's ascent has come as
timely and welcome news to senior sun-seekers, who spend between one and six
months in the sunbelt states.
    One indication of greater cross-border travel is the sale of BCAA's
travel medical insurance, which jumped by 12 per cent this September compared
to the same period last year.
    According to the Conference Board of Canada, snowbirds made the highest
number of trips to date in 2006 - 694,000. In fact, the number of snowbird
trips has increased by 60 per cent between 2000 and 2006. Now that the
"mighty" Canadian dollar has installed greater consumer confidence, BCAA
predicts even more snowbirds will ditch the snow shovel in search of sunny
skies. Snowbirds are also anticipated to stay longer and spend more on
consumer goods and services than previous years.
    Before setting off, BCAA cautions "dollar-dazed" seniors not to overlook
some basic planning to protect themselves, their homes and belongings this
fall and winter. BCAA recommends the following:

    -   Get a passport. Since January 2007, Canadians travelling to, from or
        via the U.S. by air are required to present a passport at U.S.
        Customs. The U.S. plans to implement similar requirements at land
        borders and seaports in the summer of 2008. Canadians can continue to
        use their birth certificates and drivers' license to cross the
        Canada-U.S. border by land and sea until these new requirements come
        into effect.

    -   Purchase travel medical insurance. Provincial health care coverage
        may not provide full coverage for medical emergencies in other parts
        of Canada, and foreign countries, and in fact, covers less than
        10 per cent of hospital expenses in the U.S. Make sure your travel
        medical insurance provides coverage for hospital expenses, medical
        bills, prescription drugs, ambulances, air evacuation and emergency
        dental care.

    -   Safeguard your home. Ensure all doors and windows are secured.
        Arrange timers to turn lights - and possibly a TV or radio - on/off
        during the day and night and ask a neighbour to pick up mail,
        newspapers, shovel snow and report any signs of trouble. Finally,
        arrange someone to check that your heating is maintained; otherwise,
        your home insurance policy may limit coverage for loss or damage
        caused by frozen pipes.

    -   Check your auto coverage. Consult with an insurance advisor to make
        necessary arrangements if the insurance on the vehicle you're driving
        expires while you're away. And, for any unlicensed vehicles you leave
        behind, consider purchasing a storage policy to cover fire, theft and

        If you're driving to your destination, make sure you have adequate
        limits of third-party liability coverage on your automobile or RV
        should you be found responsible for someone else's injury or damage
        to their property. Liability settlements can be huge, particularly in
        the U.S. It's also a good idea to insure your vehicle for collision,
        damage or theft while you're travelling.

        And, if you're driving an RV, talk to your insurance advisor to see
        if you've got coverage for hotel expenses if your RV is being
        repaired for a claim.

    -   Tune up. Before driving long distances, check your vehicle's tires
        for air pressure and tread wear. As RVs tend not to be driven
        regularly, check tires for cracks. Also, if you're planning to drive
        through mountain passes, remember to equip your vehicle with winter
        tires or chains.

    -   Chart your path. Popular driving routes to Southern California and
        Arizona include the I-5 (which boasts multiple lanes and is well-
        maintained), and eastbound I-10 or I-8 to Phoenix or Tucson. The
        quickest route to Arizona and Mexico is the I-84 through Salt Lake
        City and Las Vegas. For something different, try driving through the
        Grand Canyon and continue south through to Sedona. If driving an RV,
        avoid the US 395; although very scenic, this route travels through
        some of the highest mountain passes in the area.

    About BCAA

    BCAA is dedicated to meeting the needs of its members and customers
throughout B.C. and the Yukon, connecting them with a team of membership,
automotive, travel and insurance professionals. With over 778,000 members and
$115 million in annual revenues, BCAA is the largest organization of its kind
in B.C. and the fourth largest CAA-affiliated association in Canada. In 2007,
BCAA was named one the 50 Best Employers in Canada by international HR
consultants Hewitt Associates and the Globe & Mail's Report on Business
magazine. To learn more about BCAA's products, services and member advocacy,
visit For information on the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation

For further information:

For further information: Jennifer Timm, BCAA Media Relations Advisor,
Tel: (604) 268-5342, Cell: (778) 228-8859, E-mail:

Organization Profile

British Columbia Automobile Association

More on this organization

Custom Packages

Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.

Start today.

CNW Membership

Fill out a CNW membership form or contact us at 1 (877) 269-7890

Learn about CNW services

Request more information about CNW products and services or call us at 1 (877) 269-7890