Finally!! The long cold winter weather is behind us and spring break is here! Here are a few tips to ensure a safe vacation for those crossing the border. Whether you're in a rental car or driving your own vehicle, there are measures you can take to ensure the trip is safe and enjoyable.
Don’t forget that all passengers in your vehicle must have a valid Passport or WHTI-compliant identification (such as an EDL or Enhanced Driver’s License, or a NEXUS card). Since June 2009, Canadians traveling to the US have been required to present an approved document that shows identity and citizenship.
Make sure you have your Driver’s Licence with you, and ensure its valid! It’s surprising how many people forget to renew their driver’s license and believe that it’s still good. Your car insurance policy may not respond to a potential claim if you’re not properly licensed. You'll also need proof of insurance in the form of a pink insurance liability slip. Also make sure that its current as nothing will ruin your holidays quicker than being pulled over by a state trooper and trying to explain why your liability slip has expired. Check that you have your insurance brokers and insurance company’s toll-free long distance claims numbers on hand as well.
If you're renting a vehicle, rather than buying extra insurance through the rental company it's a good idea to consider extending coverage from your Ontario Auto policy by way of a OPCF 27. Limitations of this coverage are:
- The deductibles will normally match those on your policy for collision and comprehensive damage.
- The limit on your policy refers to Canadian Funds
- This coverage only extends for a period of thirty days for any one specific vehicle.
- The rental contract must be in writing
- Only the listed drivers on your policy are covered to drive the rental vehicle
- The vehicle must be a private passenger type
Remember that a claim made using OPCF 27 may affect your policies renewal rates. If renting a vehicle in Canada and driving to the US, ensure that bringing the vehicle across the border
is noted on your rental agreement as many rental car providers specify use within Canada only.
Like Ontario’s hands-free law, many states ban the use of cell phones while driving. Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio and Pennsylvania allow cities/regions to implement their own bans. Be safe and smart, and avoid electronic distraction while you’re behind the wheel. Remember, the vast majority of US states have reciprocity agreements with the Province of Ontario regarding traffic violations. Meaning, traffic offense convictions in the US will most likely appear on your Ontario driving record. So be safe!