Monday, July 18, 2011

Consider travel insurance for that summer road trip

If you’re planning a road trip somewhere south of the border this summer, there are some things to keep in mind before loading up the car and heading out on the road. While it may not always be the first thing that crosses our minds, illnesses and accidents can happen quickly and, when out of the country, the expenses related to such unfortunate occurrences can pile up just as quickly.

Even something as simple as a minor fender-bender could lead to a brief hospital visit, which — without adequate travel insurance — could become quite expensive. Many Canadians travel to the U.S. under the mistaken assumption that their provincial government or employee health plans cover everything. All too often, unfortunately, that turns out not to be the case.

Expenses such as prescription drugs, air ambulance service, X-rays and other costly procedures may not be covered by your plan when you’re outside Manitoba — even if you’re still in Canada. Therefore, if you’re planning a summer vacation this year, it’s probably a good idea to include purchasing travel insurance as part of your trip. It’s also a good idea to carry proof of that travel insurance with you, along with the name and phone number of the insurance provider. You may also want to leave a copy of the details with a neighbour or close relative, just in case you lose your copy.

With travel insurance in place to cover any unforeseen illnesses, you’ll be able to relax, rest easy and enjoy your summer getaway.

Interac offers tips for shopping online

Shopping online can be a quick, easy and fun way to avoid the rat race of malls and big box stores. But it also carries with it certain risks if not done safely. The Interac Association recently released several consumer tips to help create a safe, online shopping environment:

1. Connect securely: Before you begin your online shopping, make sure you have a secure, password-encrypted connection and the latest security software installed on your computer. Avoid making online purchases through an unsecured or borrowed Internet connection.

2. Follow your instincts: While there are many legitimate online merchants, trust your instincts and avoid making a purchase over the Internet if you have concerns about a specific website.

3. Check the URL: Always type a merchant's website URL directly into your browser instead of clicking on a third party link (such as a link embedded in an email advertisement), which may be a phishing attempt directing you to a fraudulent website. Reputable merchants offer secure browsing, indicated by an https link or SSL certificate.

4. Read the privacy policy: Once you've selected goods or services to buy online, always check the small print. What is the merchant's privacy policy? Will the merchant withhold any of your personal information? This should be addressed clearly on the website.

5. Save a record of the purchase: Print and file a copy of your receipt, as well as the merchant's terms and conditions, should you need to return the product or consult the warranty.

6. Examine your purchase: Once you receive your purchase, inspect it to ensure it is exactly what you purchased and did not incur damage during shipping.

Remember to pack your Member Card

Your credit union Member Card is a terrific traveling companion. Because you can use your Member Card for Interac purchases throughout Canada and the United States — and for cash withdrawals on the CIRRUS worldwide network — you don’t need to carry as much cash with you when you travel.

However, keep in mind that whenever you travel it’s a good idea not to keep your identification, Member Card, credit cards, travelers’ cheques, cash, and other important personal documentation in the same place. That way, if your luggage goes missing, or you lose your wallet or purse, you aren’t left with nothing.

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