Winter Feed

5 Tips to Prepare and Stay Safe in The Winter Driving Season - Do you pass the test?


We all wish summer would last forever, especially in provinces where the temperature drops below zero and we face heavy snowfall for several months out of the year. If you have lived in Quebec, you know what it is to have to battle the snow on the roads.


Here are 5 tips to help keep you safe and prepared for winter driving & a VIDEO Quiz.


1.    Don’t get left out in the cold! Check your roadside assistance plan.


Most new vehicles now come with roadside assistance included in the new vehicle purchase. Sometimes the roadside assistance can last years, and is easily something we take for granted as new vehicle owners. However, in some cases it expires based on the use of the car, meaning the number of kilometers – this could reduce your automatic coverage or make it expire long before you realize.

So the first step to ensuring you have a safe winter season is to prepare for emergencies by contacting your roadside assistance provider and making sure your coverage is in place.

If it is not, Aviva Canada and Intact insurance both offer special deals with their insurance policies for roadside assistance.

CAA also has alliances with some insurance companies which can get you the coverage for free (for new clients) and offer a discount on insurance for others.

So make sure  you are covered so that if you get stranded on the side of the road, you’ll have help and spend as little time as possible out in the cold.


2.    Winter Tires – Why  are they important?


According to Transports Quebec  a study in 2005 showed that 38% of accidents that occurred on the road involved at least one vehicle with all season tires, vs. winter tires.  Therefore since 2008, in Quebec, it is a law to equip your vehicle with Winter tires from December 15th to March 15th – the winter driving season. Want more info on Winter Tires? Check out this post where I cover all the details.


3.    Avoid Gas-Line Freeze up - Keep your Gas tank At Least Half Full.


According to CAA, keeping your gas tank at least half full reduces condensation that can cause gas line freeze up. Besides preventing this inconvenient situation, it also assures you always have enough gas to get where you are going and once again, you’ll never get stuck in the cold. During the winter driving season it is not unusual to get stuck in traffic for hours, or use extra gas to get out of a snow bank – stay prepared.



4.    Prepare an Emergency Roadside Kit & Get Winter Tools for Your Car


Keep a roadside emergency kit in the car so that if you do run into trouble you are prepared. Some items to include:
•    A Bag of sand – incase you get stuck in the snow
•    Shovel and Windshield Scraper
•    Extra Windshield washer fluid that is made for below zero temperatures
•    A Blanket
•    A Flashlight or flashing light, Matches, Batteries for the flashlight, A First Aid Kit, A Cell Phone Charger

Note that some stores sell some great emergency roadside kits that even include items that can fill your tires with air, or have flashing lights to use  if you’re stalled. It’s always a good idea to check the options at your local supply stores.


5.    Vehicle Maintenance Winter Checklist  - Keep Your Car Running In Winter!

The following items should be verified because their functioning will directly affect your ability to drive in wintery conditions.

  • Windshield - Snall cracks or nicks in the windshield can often spread or get worse in the cold weather.

Did you know some insurance companies will repair your glass for free if there is a small chip or crack in it?

If you have a small nick or chip in the glass or a hair line crack, call your insurance to see if they offer this special coverage on your policy- you may be surprisd to find out they will take care of it for you with no deductible or consequence if it is your first incident!

  • Winter wipe blades & Windshield fluid - make sure they are winter ready - a clear windshield will help you significantly when weather conditions are bad
  • Vehicle lights - make sure they are all working properly
  • Tread on tires
  • Check the battery
  • Check your antifreeze level
  • Also verify critical winter car functions like the thermostat, heater, brakes and defroster.

Best Driving Practices in Winter to Stay Safe : Video QUIZ

Think you’re ready for safe winter driving, check out this awesome video for a True or False Quiz!

That's my list, what are your best tips for winter driving safety?

 

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5 Tips For Closing Your Cottage For The Winter

Winterizing - Closing up your cottage - Quebec - Ontario for the winter

Fall is the most beautiful time of year and the perfect season to spend a long weekend in the country. I was away just last weekend and caught some incredible scenery!
In Montreal, Ontario and Quebec, we are lucky to live in picturesque regions that truly spoil us this time of year. With a diversity of areas to enjoy this natural beauty, many locals own cottages or cabins where they can enjoy the summer months into the fall.

How do You Protect Your Seasonal Home or Cottage?

Some cottages are winterized, however many are not. This weekend marks Thanksgiving in Canada, a perfect time to take advantage of the natural beauty in the Quebec and Ontario countryside on our last long weekend of the year!

Quebec and Ontario Tips for closing down the cottage for the winter - beautiful chalets

For many seasonal cottage owners, this weekend also marks the date for the closing of the cottage for the winter season. 

The Most Common Causes Of Damage To Cottages

Every spring, people return to their cottage with the hopes that there is no damage, however statistics would indicate that the top claims for cottages usually include water or wind damage caused during the winter or early spring months.

5 Tips For Closing Up Your Cottage

Here are some tips to help keep the cottage safe during the winter months while you are away:

1.    Avoid Water Damage:

Any time you leave your home during months that temperatures will drop close to zero Celsius or below, you should take precautions to avoid water damage. *

Did you know that almost 50% home claims paid in Canada this past year were related to some sort of water damage

The best way to avoid water damage is to drain the pluming and turn off the water so the pipes don’t freeze. 

•    Shut off the main water valve and any water supply valves like for example on a toilet, dishwasher or washing machine.

FamilyHandyman.com has some awesome detailed explanations on how to do this, if you want more details, you can check them out here.

2. If you have a sump pump, check it to make sure it is working.

Often the water will rise in the spring when the snow melts. If you will not be at the cottage when this starts to happen it is critical to make sure you have left everything ready to go. 3. Bring in all your décor and other items like lawn chairs, boats and BBQ’s from the garden and property. These items will preserve better indoors and you will also avoid the possibility of them flying off causing damage to property or others in heavy winter storms, or fall and spring winds.

Did you know that there are 80 confirmed and unconfirmed tornados that touch down in Canada each year? Most occurring in southern Ontario, the southern Prairies and southern Quebec? Learn more here.

How to take care of your wood stove and tips to close the cottage for the winter Photo Copyright Mila Araujo 2013

4. Close the flue or block the stove pipes on your fireplace, chimneys or woodstoves.

These make good places for animals to get into your home, or make nests in. This may also be a good time to have your chimney cleaned, the build up within a chimney can cause chimney fires and if left for the winter, you may have a nasty surprise in the spring when you go to use them again. 

If you have a BBQ make sure you disconnect the propane tank and store it in an appropriate location out of direct sunlight – you may want to refer to your BBQ manual for specific details for your tank. Remember that the BBQ tank carries contents that are explosive – handle this with care.

 

5.    Trim any branches hanging over the cottage, and inspect the roof and gutters to make sure there are no areas that will be vulnerable.

Weight of snow and ice in various circumstances, or blocked up drainage systems can create significant damage while you are away. Prevention is your best option. Clean out eaves troughs. Make sure they are clear of leaves and that the drainage is directed at least several feet from your home (the distance depends on the slope of the land and specifics of your property, however we recommend you look into this to avoid any issues with water damage).

How do you prepare the cottage for winter?

Everyone has specific lists of how they lock up their cottage for the winter, after you’ve enjoyed your final weekend away, we hope these tips help keep your property safe so that next year when you open the cottage, you’re ready to enjoy a  glorious spring!

That’s my list – what’s on yours?

 

*Please note that insurance coverage varies from state to state or province to province, the information in this article and on this site is given to serve as a information to empower consumers, and as a bouncing board to lead to a discussion with a licensed broker or agent that can review your specific needs and explain various coverage options to you. Every insurance company has their own policy wording, in all cases the policy wording will take precedence over any blog discussions or examples. Empower yourself with information, so you know the questions to ask, and take charge of your insurance to save money!

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How to Save Money On Insurance When You Put Your Car in Storage

Winter Storage & Saving Money on Your Car Insurance


When people are not driving their cars, they sometimes think that it is a good idea to cancel their insurance and just buy new insurance when they decide to drive again. What most people don't know is that they don't need to cancel their policy to save money or get money back for the period the car is stored.

When is Storing A Vehicle A Good Plan?

  • If you have a "summer only" car, like a sports car for example.

  • Specialty or Antique Vehicles

  • Going out of the country to travel or work for several months, or for "Snow birds" in the winter months

  • If you prefer not to drive in harsh winter conditions

Don't Cancel Your Policy! Put it on "Hold."

Cancelling a policy is not a good idea when a car is in storage, here’s why

  • It will cost you time and money: You will receive a penalty for cancelling your policy mid-term. You will also create a gap in your car insurance history and make the process much longer when you want to insure your vehicle again.
  • When you cancel an insurance policy but still own the vehicle, you are still liable for the vehicle or any damage that may occur as a result of your ownership of the vehicle. A car does not have to be driven to cause damage!
  • When you cancel a policy, you also cancel the coverage for physical damage to the vehicle. So if someone scrapes your car, does a hit and run, steals your car, etc. You will not be covered if you cancel your policy.


A Winter Storage endorsement is the best alternative to save money and protect your car.

In Quebec, we offer a winter storage endorsement QEF16/QEF17.  In other provinces or places, there may be similar programs - please contact your insurer or broker to find out how you can save money or if there are similar programs available.*

The QEF 16 endorsement can be added at any time, and at the end of a storage period, it is ended based on your request, with a QEF 17.  This endorsement allows for a  reimbursement or reduction of the premium for the timeline where the vehicle will be off the road or not being driven. Depending on the insurance company, some may even issue the credit to you in advance.

The credit will normally be for the period between November 1st and April 1st, however, this varies by insurer, and of course, if you only put your car away from January to March, for example, it can be adjusted to your needs. The important part is always to remember that once you have advised your insurer a vehicle is in storage, your insurance is limited or suspended, and you are not insured to drive it again until you call your insurer to advise it will be going back on the road, and you need the full insurance back.

Most companies have a minimum amount of time a vehicle will be stored to qualify for the endorsement, this time frame is usually over 60 days.*

How does the Winter Storage Endorsement Work?


•    It normally provides minimal coverage in liability. In other words, it takes into account that you will not be driving the vehicle. However, it maintains a portion of the liability coverage in place for situations where you might become liable for damage caused due to your ownership of the vehicle.

•    It maintains comprehensive coverage. This is the coverage that protects you for damages that may occur as a result of fire, theft, vandalism, windshield, for example.

•    Collision coverage may also be adjusted for the duration of the storage. Collision is the portion of automobile insurance that covers your car when you are responsible for an accident that results in damage to your vehicle – since you won't be driving; it stands to reason this coverage can be limited during the storage period.

Please contact your insurance representative to find out how you can save money while protecting your car during a storage period. You may be surprised to find out how much you can save!

 

You may also enjoy learning which insurance companies were awarded top ranks by consumers in J.D. Power survey, check it out!

*Please note that insurance coverage varies from state to state or province to province, the information in this article and on this site is given to serve as information to empower consumers, and as a bouncing board to a discussion with a licensed broker or agent that can review your specific needs and explain various coverage options to you. Every insurance company has their own policy wording, in all cases, the policy wording will take precedence over any blog discussions or examples. Empower yourself with information, so you know the questions to ask, and take charge of your insurance to save money and protect yourself!

Winter Tires - Why Bother?

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Winter road
A couple of years ago the Quebec Government in Canada passed a law about winter tires:  From December 15th to March 15th, ALL tires mounted on a  passenger vehicle  must be specifically designed for winter driving.  

At the time, I , like many people who live in colder climates had used All Seasons for years. I didn't really think there was an issue, after all, years of driving with All Seasons, and no problems, right?

10am in a snowstormI can tell you from experience, and as someone who went into it very annoyed at the inconvenience of changing tires twice a year - it is well worth it.  I am a pretty strong winter driver, even on my previous All Seasons I always knew how to adjust my driving to deal with any conditions.  Safety was always important to me, yet I had never bothered with winter tires until the law passed.

Today,  I can't even imagine driving without them. You will feel safer, you will have better control of the road, you will be protecting yourself and your family so much better.

Our climate is changing, we are seeing major increases in the amounts of snow we see and ice storms.  When you drive in snow storms or in icy conditions, do you see people unable to manage the roads, stuck or struggling, driving at a turtles pace simply because they can't get their vehicle to move forward in the slush, snow and ice?  Or maybe, this person is you?

Don't end up on the side of the road because you are having problems controlling your vehicle.

Off the road - Winter TiresWherever you are, if you drive in a region that has snowfall or sees temperature drops, don't wait for it to become a regulation or mandated by law.  

Get your winter tires now, it will extend the life of your all seasons/summer tires, it will give you the control that you need on the road - beyond what you have ever experienced with All Seasons.  It will keep you on track.

Its an investment in your safety. Your regular tires will last twice as long, since they will be used in the conditions they were built for.  

I found the video below from the Insurance Bureau of Canada which shows road tests on an ice skating rink - really interesting.  Hope it helps convince any of you out there who don't see the value in snow tires to give it a second thought.

English: Severe snow rating symbol for car tiresImage via Wikipedia

 

How do you know a winter tire ?

  • Tires on which one of the following inscriptions appears: Alaska | Arctic | A/T or AT | Blizzard | Ice | LT | Nordic
  • Snow (but not Mud & Snow) | Stud | Ultratraction | Winter
  • Tires on which the mountain and snowflake icon appears.

From an insurance perspective, we are still seeing claims where people were driving without winter tires. At this time, the insurers are handling these case by case. From our experience with our insurers, which include Aviva, Chubb, Missisquoi, Guarantee Company of North America , and Intact, we have not seen any claims denied due to the violation of the law which requires winter tires.  However, in Quebec, it is a law and so everyone here should have them installed. We advise all our clients to have them installed and respect the law.

 

A real driver is interested in performance, equip your vehicle for winter, you'll enjoy the ride, you'll have better control and everyone will be safer.

Leave the skating on ice or sliding down slippery slopes for outdoor sports and gain control of the road.

Have you installed your winter tires yet? What's your experience? Please share in the comments below and join the conversation!

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