Ray Battiston, Canadian Travel Insurance Broker
PO Box 510, 7 Red Haven Dr. St Davids, On L0S 1P0             

Tel: 1-905-262-6575,

 toll free 1-800-526-7420

mailto:ray@icecoldnorth.com

 
Battiston Travel Insurance Blog

Phone 905-262-6575  - St Davids, Ontario 

Your best choice for Travel Insurance & Visitors to Canada Insurance -Licensed in all Provinces & The Yukon

 

March 20 2017:  Why do Snowbirds travel south for the Winter:  Pick one.

 

Mar 2017 winter storm Niagara area.

 

Feb 2017 Davenport Rental, Florida Swim Time.

Ok, these two dudes aren't Snowbirds, they are my Grandsons, enjoying some warm  weather at a vacation rental in Davenport, Florida. Myself and my wife went on that trip too. Then we had to fly back north to go back to work.  For some reason I've never had any of my clients call me up at the beginning of Snowbird season, and tell me they want a quote for a six month winter trip to The Yukon, or Alaska. I admit I've had a few clients in the summer who took an Alaskan cruise, but only for a couple of weeks.

Remember when we were all kids and actually enjoyed winter sports?  We couldn't wait to go out skiing for the day, or riding a snowmobile, ice fishing, hockey on the frozen lake or trekking through the woods.  Even one cold overnight winter camping trip in winter with Scouts didn't depress me.  Now of course I don't do any of those things today.  And I frequently turn on our heated seats in our SUV and crossover during winter drivng. The gas fireplace at home gets turned on on a chilly winter day. And I stare out the windows at the snow.

So its obvious why Canadian Snowbirds travel south during the winter.  Its much warmer and way more comfortable, and as long as you have the money, the time, and good health, you can hit the road, or fly out. And if it starts to get too expensive, simply consider cutting down the length of your trip, not cancelling it completely.

I'm staring out my office window again.  The snow is still there, from our March winter storm, but there is hope.  The weather is warming up again, the snow is melting, and our back yard pool is scheduled to open up again in less than two months on May 9th.


 

July 5, 2016 :72 Hour Warning - Upcoming Strike courtesy your Canadian Union of Postal Workers  July  2016 - Big Mistake (Again)

Who here is a fan of Canada Post, other than the employees?  Look at our costs: .85 (stamps bought in bulk)  plus GST for a 50 gram letter.  Most of my outgoing mail is $2.95 or $4.10 each item plus GST. What is the Union demanding in their new contract?  From what I can read: two main items - continuing to have a Defined Benefits plan for employees and something about higher pay. Most companies have ditched or are ditching a Defined Benefits Pension plan because the model doesn't work.  I'm not an accountant or economist, but I can tell you its pretty hard to guarantee in advance a pension plan which is going to give you a guaranteed monthly income as far as 35 or 40 years in advance of  your projected retirement. As a self employed Insurance Broker, I don't have that luxury, I "own" my personal RRSPs to which I make annual deposits and whose rate of return fluctuates. 

Remember its not Canada Post which is going on strike (or seems too). Its the Union.  Unions can be great.  They can protect their members, fight for fair wages and benefits.  They can also be bad.  A union should never be in a position where it dictates the running of a corporation. Or it messes up regular people.

What is the future for Canada Post?  I don't think its good.  In our business model, we can electronically send all confirmations of policy documents via e mail. And in fact we do send out confirmations AND mail out printed copies.  One of my own Brokers only e mails me my annual liability policy.  In the "old days"  they used to e mail and send me printed copies. Even in cases where some of our clients do not have e mail or have a busted printer, we can usually e mail their relatives or a friend with their permission.  We in turn can receive a scanned signature copy from them or even a fax.  We don't even own a fax anymore, when someone 'faxes' us, it goes to a Bell Canada toll free number which then sends the fax to our e mail account automatically.  We can then save the pdf document in the clients file and forward it to the company when necessary.  The system is called Fax to Email and if your company doesn't have it now you should call Bell Canada.

Prior to me hearing about "The Strike" one of my insurers sent me an E Blast, advising me to switch over to automatic bank deposits on commissions ifI had not already done so.  Most of my partner companies have been sending me E Mail commission statements and depositing my commissions directly into my Bank account for years.  Rarely do I get a commission cheque in the mail now. Less business for Canada Post.

In fact, many years ago Insurance Courier was formed to courier insurance documents because Canada Post employees seemed to be going on strike all the time.  Ironically I have not used Insurance Courier for years, because almost all my documents can be e mailed to our partner companies and Insurers.

So here's the Canada Post Strike Scenario:  Go on strike, lose business.  Go on strike again, lose business.  Etc, Etc.  The writing is on the wall, keep striking and the business will continue to shrink.  Pretty soon you won't have to strike anymore.


 

1 Hour 39 Minute Wait Time at Queenston Lewiston bridge for Cars headed to  US on morning of July 1 2016  CANADA DAY!

I had my doubts about that one. The Niagara Falls Bridge Commission web site is supposed to give accurate wait times for the Queenston Lewiston, Rainbow, Whirlpool and Peace Bridge crossings.  Since I l live very near the New York border I do cross "over the river" frequently.  I always check the wait time first and either pick the Queenston Lewiston Bridge or the Whirlpool (Nexus pass only) Bridge depending on traffic.

Today, the warning was well over 1 hour wait at Queenston, Lewiston. When I checked the Whirlpool, there was no wait.  I picked Whirlpool today. When I got there, there were about 7 cars in front of me with two lines.  The friendly US boarder guard asked my nationality, and if I was importing anything.  That took maybe 20 seconds top plus about a minute waiting in line.

When I drove back through Lewiston Queenston Bridge (same bridge, different direction) I was the second car in the Nexus lane and passed about a 30 minute wait or more of cars in the "herd" lane (those who do not have Nexus).  Nexus by the way costs $50.00 for 5 years, per person (kids under 18 free), or about $50.00 US (around $65.00 Canada currently) if you apply online instead of by paper.

The only problem with coming back on the Lewiston Queenston Bridge assuming you will be using your Nexus pass is two fold:  The Truck/Nexus lane may be backed up by trucks and the car lane may be backed up as well, meaning you would have to wait until you got around the bend before you could get into the Nexus lane. A short wait is fine, but an hour or so seems a lot longer. And if you have never used the Nexus lane before and simply get into the Truck/Nexus lane which may be backed up trucks, you could have simply driven the car lane if it is clear, then get into the Nexus lane after the bend.

I have never seen such a long wait  of cars heading to the US on that bridge in the six years we have lived in Niagara.  In fact the line of cars were bumper to bumper about 1/8th of a mile past the last exit on the 405 into St Davids. Thats like forever in waiting time, and once you are in line you can't turn around.  So make sure you have enough gas and have stopped for a bathroom break prior to hitting the bridges.

Apparently all the GPS's direct the driver through the Queenston Lewiston crossing when you plug in the destination from an out of Niagara address.  But you do have a choice of the other three (two if no Nexus card).  And if you are using the Nexus pass for the first time at the Whirlpool Bridge and heading south, once over the bridge, make right turn, then a left turn on Ontario St. A right turn on Hyde Park Blvd, a left turn on Porter Rd which will take you to the 190 Interstate.  Don't stop along Ontario, or Hyde Park Blvd for safety reasons.  Porter Rd starts to get nicer looking. 

 


 


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Ray Battiston, Canadian Travel Insurance Broker

  ray@IceColdNorth.com    or   Kipp Battiston
PO Box 510
, 7 Red Haven Drive, St Davids, On L0S 1P0 Tel: 905-262-6575  ,

Toll Free  1-800 -526-7420,  Fax: 1-866-614-8753

Open: Monday to Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM EST, Weekends & Holidays closed

Copyright 1996- 2017

Revised  March 20, 2017
 

Where is St Davids, Ontario?  St Davids is a village, part of and located on the southern edge of the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, just below the Niagara Escarpment. Right in the centre of wine country.

Links:  Mapquest

Niagara Falls Bridge Commission -Border Wait Times

Nexus Designed to expediate border clearance for pre approved travellers into Canada and the USA

Canada Duty Free Stores & Border Crossing

Canada- Immigration & Citizenship - Official Government of Canada link

Florida - Official Portal of the State of Florida

Texas - Official State Travel Page

E-Z Pass- Automated Toll Transponders for New York State & Border

Adobe Reader to open pdf documents

Travel and Tourism for Canadians - Offical Government of Canada Page

CTV New - Toronto- Breaking News

Expedia - Bookings - Air, Hotel, Car rental

Trivago - Hotel Comparisons