Canadians involved in USA accidents

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Canadians who head south for the winter are commonly referred to as “Snowbirds”. This nickname probably originated with Canadian singer Ann Murray’s famous 1971 song. It referenced a small northern bird (a dark eyed Junco) that lives in Canada for the winter and migrates south for the winter. The term “Snowbird” is now synonymous with Northern residents, who migrate south every year to avoid the cold winter weather.

Lets not forget families wanting to escape the dirge of winter. Spring Break is a time everyone packs up and drives 1000’s of miles south to visit Granny, Disney World, and sandy beaches.

ontario canada snowbird accidents

So where do they go? Florida is the most popular destination. States such as South and North Carolina, Georgia, Texas and Arizona also experience an influx of winter travellers.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure: Snowbirds need to make sure they have extra medical & travel insurance when heading south. It is a good idea to purchase all of the optional car insurance coverages. Before heading out speak to your insurance broker.

Increasing liability coverage, Personal Insurance Protection, Accident Benefits and Underinsured/uninsured motorist protection, are inexpensive ways to protect you and your family. The people you love most, are sitting in your passenger seats.

Snowbirds’ and accidents. If you are involved in an accident, the law of the state decides whether you can sue for pain and suffering, and any economic losses suffered. In addition each state has different procedural rules as to how and when a claim can be brought. For example you must bring a law suit within a prescribed time period. If not you will be precluded from doing so.

Nearly everyone involved in an accident has some form of private accident insurance. These private contractual claims must be brought in the state or province where the insurance was purchased. For example if a Canadian from Ontario is involved in a car accident in Florida, they would sue in Florida, but claim their private insurance benefits in Ontario.

Underinsured and Uninsured claims: Each state and province has different minimum third party car insurance liability requirements. For example in Florida you only need to have a minimum limit of $10,000. Comparatively, Ontario car drivers must have a minimum third party limit of $200,000.

So how does it work? A Snowbird (not including Quebec) with a $1 million liability policy who is involved in a very serious car accident with an at fault driver with minimal coverage, can claim the financial shortfall from their own insurer. This coverage protects you and your family in any instance involving an at fault driver who is underinsured or uninsured.

  • Canadians (excluding Quebec residents) not at fault or partially at fault for the accident and injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver – can claim the financial shortfall from their Own car policy. This protection extends to, motorcyclists, passengers, and pedestrians. The claim must be brought where the private policy was purchased. – ie Canada.
  • A Canadian involved in any motor-vehicle accident, across North America, regardless of fault, can immediately claim for (PIP) Accident Benefits for medical, rehabilitation, attendant care and income replacement.

Applying for (PIP) Accident Benefits. After reporting the accident to your insurer, they will send to you a Accident Claim Form. This form must be completed by everyone involved in the accident. You will need to provide a description of the accident, the injuries sustained, the treating doctors and hospitals involved, and, any medical and rehabilitation expenses incurred.

SPECIAL NOTICE FOR ONTARIO RESIDENTS. Ontario has one of the best Statutory Accident Benefit schemes in North America. If you are involved in a car accident, the SAB coverage assists in the immediate payment of hospital accounts, and medical and rehabilitative needs. These benefits allow Hospital Discharge Planners and Social Workers to immediately help facilitate you and your family’s return home. 

Cross Border Accidents are exceptionally complicated. After a serious accident, injured travellers will need a lawyer in the State they were injured in, and quite possibly in their home jurisdiction.

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Contact us at 1-877-771-7006


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