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Archive for the ‘Assistance’ Category

Travel insurance or EHIC or both?

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

With over 25% of holiday makers not taking out any travel insurance, then one reason often quoted is why do I need it when I already have a European Health Insurance Card, better known as EHIC? Simply put, you need both if you are planning to travel abroad. One does not replace the other.

First of all what is EHIC? The EHIC replaced the old E111 form in 2006 which is no longer valid. Do make sure you get your EHIC before you travel. Application forms are readily available from Post Offices and you can also apply online through the NHS website. EHIC is valid throughout the EU and a number of other countries, namely Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechenstein. Should you be suddenly taken ill or have an accident in any of these countries, then the EHIC will entitle you, in most cases, to free, or at a reduced cost, necessary medical treatment.

Do remember, however, that an EHIC does not cover you for all the medical costs that you can incur or for your repatriation. It is not an alternative to medical insurance and to go abroad without appropriate medical cover, as provided by most travel insurance policies, is probably as close to playing ‘Russian Roulette’ as you can get. As the NHS website points out, “the EHIC is NOT an alternative to travel insurance. It will not cover any private medical healthcare or the cost of things such as mountain rescue in ski resorts, repatriation to the UK or lost or stolen property”.

Furthermore, an EHIC does not cover you outside the areas described and, although the UK has mutual agreements with many countries, these arrangements don’t cover all expenses you can incur. You may have to pay thousands of pounds in medical costs, a prime example is the USA and Canada where medical treatment is expensive and, increasingly, there are many other countries that fall into this category.

So we do recommend that before you travel that you always arrange travel insurance with health cover that is adequate for your destination.

The FCO advises that the level of cover should be at least £1million for Europe or £2million for the rest of the world but most travel insurance policies now offer cover beyond these figures and £5million is becoming quite standard and even higher figures are common. As with all insurances, where health cover is required, there may be restrictions because of a particular medical condition for example, which may result in a higher premium to be paid. At the end of the day though, what you are paying for is ‘peace of mind’ and that is why it is so important to make sure you get cover before you go.

This article is brought to you by Travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

FCO stresses need for travel insurance

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

The Foreign Office are appealing to British holidaymakers not to cut corners on travel insurance as their third annual British Behaviour Abroad report reveals that ‘Brits abroad’ are continuing to get into trouble. The report, based on incident figures from FCO records, highlights that well over 8,000 Britons needed assistance in the US, almost 7,000 passports were lost in Spain alone, 600 Brits were hospitalised in Greece and just under 1,600 died in Spain over the period April 2006 to March 2007. In a separate survey carried out by YouGov, two thirds of British holidaymakers have admitted that they will be spending less on their foreign holiday preparations this year due to the credit crunch. This has prompted concerns that people will opt out of getting comprehensive travel insurance, adding potential financial ruin to the trauma of experiencing a serious problem abroad. Foreign Office Minister, Meg Munn, stressed that “this report highlights what can go wrong on holiday.  It is a reminder to all that taking out comprehensive travel insurance is a crucial part of your holiday planning and not something that should be sacrificed in order to save a few pounds.” The figures have been released as part of the FCO’s ongoing Know Before You Go campaign, which aims to encourage British nationals to take responsibility for preparing for their foreign travel. The campaign targets a number of audiences, from gap year students to package holidaymakers, from sports fans to older travellers and people visiting friends and family abroad. This article is brought to you by Travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

Travel assistance when abroad

Friday, September 19th, 2008

People often ask what they should do if they get into difficulties abroad and who they should contact. Firstly, a  comprehensive travel insurance policy, backed up by 24 hour assistance helplines, is essential when going on holiday and is there to give you that ‘peace of mind’ in the event of, say, a medical emergency, airport delays or loss of personal belongings.  But sometimes, this is not enough and being the victim, for example, of an incident, such as a mugging or road traffic accident, you may require help at the time so who you do you then turn to in your hour of need. If you are on an organised holiday, then the tour operator is likely to have a resident representative at the resort but more people are now opting to be ‘independent travellers’ and when things do go wrong, you need to know what to do in an emergency.The Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London provides excellent advice for travellers and you are strongly advised to log on to their website at www.fco.gov.uk/travel before you go. Similar levels of advice to non-UK nationals can be obtained from their respective Consulates, Embassies and High Commissions though the FCO website is also a source of good general travel advice to anyone travelling abroad. For UK nationals travelling abroad, the FCO will do everything they properly can to help British people in difficulty. If you get into difficulty or trouble, you can contact British Consular Staff around the world who may be able to help. It’s always worth getting travel insurance cover and checking you have the address and telephone number of the local British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate before you travel. Your rep/local guide, hotel/guesthouse or local police are likely to have this information. The UK consular operation covers most countries but not all and in these countries, you may be able to get help from the consulate of another EU member state. Also, Commonwealth countries such as Australia and Canada may provide certain consular services to British nationals in countries where the UK is unrepresented. This article is brought to you by Travelandinsure.com – specilaist in ethical travel insurance.

Protect your holiday

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

The nightmare scenario for any holidaymaker is being stranded when their airline or tour operator goes out of business. A year ago we would have said that fortunately this was not an everyday occurrence,  but 2008 is turning out to be very different with a spate of airline and tour operator failures.  The latest, XL Travel, has resulted in thousands stranded abroad and more at home with their holiday dreams in tatters. Regrettably, these situations do happen with little or no notice so it is important to ensure that your travel organiser can provide sufficient evidence of security for the refunding and repatriation of customers in the event of insolvency. We are all used to Kite marks and Corgi approved engineers to provide a level of consumer protection in our everyday life but what about when we go on holiday? So who or what is out there? Some insurers offer Passenger Protection Insurance sold separately or part of a travel insurance policy but always check the small print if this is offered because these are quite often restrictive in their cover. You can reduce the risk further by organising your travel through tour operators and agents covered by ATOL or who hold bonding through an approved body, such as ABTA or AITO. What is ATOL? This stands for Air Travel Organiser’s licensing and is a protection scheme for flights and air holidays, managed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and protects the customer from losing money or being stranded abroad when a tour operator goes bust. All licensed firms have to lodge bonds with the CAA so that, if they go out of business, the CAA can give refunds to people who can’t travel and arrange for people abroad to finish their holidays and fly home. And ABTA? Members of the Association of British Travel Agents are required to provide financial protection for their customers which means that you can book your holiday knowing that if an ABTA member fails financially while you are on holiday, you can continue your holiday as planned. If your holiday has not started, then you will receive a full refund or be given help to make alternative arrangements for the trip to proceed. Likewise AITO, or Association of Independent Tour Operators to give it its full title, require their members to protect their customer’s money in the event of an AITO member going into liquidation. This article is brought to you by Travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

Tourists stranded as travel firm folds

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

Nearly 2,500 British holidaymakers are stuck in the Mediterranean after the collapse of package tour firm, Seguro Travel. The company, which offers package deals to Gran Canaria and Costa Brava from airports in Kent and Ayrshire, blamed the cash troubles of the Spanish airline, Futura, which operated 80% of its flights. Futura cancelled flights and launched insolvency proceedings in Palma on Monday, blaming high fuel costs. Seguro directors Rachel Elliott and Richard Burke said: “Futura’s collapse was totally unexpected as an airline with over 30 planes, having a good reputation and being one of Spain’s respected airlines”. As customers of a package tour firm, they will benefit from the protection which is not offered to passengers on airlines, which goes bust – such as Zoom, which failed last month. The CAA, under its ATOL (Air Travel Organiser’s Licensing) scheme, is making arrangements for customers abroad to complete their holidays and return to the UK and to fully refund those with forward bookings. The CAA is currently issuing the following advice to Seguro Travel’s customers.  Those customers still due to travel on a Seguro Travel air holiday or flight you should submit a claim to the CAA. Claim forms are available on the ATOL website at www.atol.org.uk. You should not go to your departure airport as all holidays have been cancelled. For customers currently abroad on holiday, the CAA will be making arrangements to ensure customers on Seguro Travel holidays remain in their holiday accommodation and fly home as planned. This news is brought to you by Travelandinsure.com – specialist in Ethical Travel Insurance.

Strikes and stoppages mean one thing – Travel delays ahead

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

A threatened BA pilots strike is still on the cards for this Easter with 86% of the carrier’s pilots voting in favour for some form of industrial action.  One can only hope that common sense will prevail but it is now a regular feature in our every day lives that staff with a grievance will target the busy holiday periods to put pressure on their employers.  And it is not just the airlines who are at risk.  Airports authorities are also vulnerable to strikes and stoppages.  Whether this industrial action is justified or not, it will be the traveller who suffers and long queues at check-in desks are now becoming the norm and not the exception.  Add to that other occurrences, such as the recent computer failure in the baggage handling system at Heathrow Terminal 4, the attempted terrorist attack at Glasgow airport in 2007 and the heightened security alert at Heathrow in the summer of 2006, it is now common place for our travel plans to be disrupted by events outside our control.

Whilst we cannot totally avoid being affected, apart from electing never to travel of course, we can limit the financial loss by taking out adequate travel insurance which will provide financial cover and compensation if caught up in airport holiday chaos.  To start with, all travel insurance policies should have a travel delay section, generally to pay a fixed amount for each 6, 12 or 24 hours delay experienced.  This is what is termed as a benefit so does not require receipts to claim but you will need a note from the carrier or airport to confirm the number of hours delayed.  Secondly, most travel insurance policies will have a section for Abandonment.  This is just another term for cancellation which permits the traveller, once they have experienced the required number of hours travel delay, to cancel their flight and holiday in its entirety and claim back the costs.  Whether you choose this option will depend on many factors, such as the length of your trip away, how long the delay will be and personal preference but it is a very valuable addition to have in any travel insurance policy.  One word of warning, all travel insurance policies will have a clause that excludes any claim from being paid if the strike had been known about before the flight and holiday had been booked so it always prudent to check before you go firm on any travel plans.

With travel insurance now very competitively priced, particularly when purchased over the internet, who can really afford to travel without any cover at all?  It is probably a risk not worth taking when faced by the threat of yet another year of strikes, stoppages and delays.

Lose your luggage but don’t lose your cool

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

The latest poll on lost luggage has many well known airlines with very poor records for looking after our holiday bags.  According to the Association of European Airlines, on average around 25 out of every 1000 bags gets delayed and 1 bag in 2000 will be lost permanently.  These are not good odds and none of us can safely say these days that it won’t happen to me and most of us will know of someone who has had this happen to them.  Losing a bag can be a distressing experience, made worse by the generally poor customer service at some airport’s lost luggage counters and, if it happens on the outward journey, what do you do?  Do you make do with the clothing you have in the hope that the luggage will arrive or buy replacements?  Tough decision to make and is all very stressful at a time when you should be enjoying your holiday?  There is no magic wand to wave here but you can help yourself by being adequately protected by having travel insurance cover in place before you go.

What travel insurance should provide in these circumstances is an allowance, usually based on each 24 hours the luggage is delayed, for you to buy essential replacement items, such as clothing and toiletries, for you to survive until your bags arrive.  There will be an upper limit to this daily allowance and your travel insurance company will be looking for receipts for these items to accompany any claim you make.  This still requires you to pay first and claim back later but at least it means you won’t be too much out of pocket.  Do remember to obtain what the airlines call a ‘Property Irregularity Report’ from the Lost Luggage Section at the airport at the time your bags go missing.  You will need to send this to your travel insurance company to substantiate your claim and they will also be looking for proof of when the bags were returned to you, so a signed and dated receipt will also be expected.  If you don’t have these, then it is very possible that the insurers will not pay your claim.  If your bags become ‘irretrievably’ lost, then the insurance company will need a letter from the airline confirming this and you will then be able to claim for all the lost items under the Lost Baggage Section of your policy.

But as the title suggests, remain calm and keep your cool in these situations, get the required paperwork, know what you can claim for and get on with your holiday.  After all, ‘worse things happen at sea’ as they say, but that I suppose not what you want to hear if you contemplating going on a cruise!

Going skiing? Take out travel insurance – you know it makes sense

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

There is a one in seven chance of ending up seeking medical care during a skiing holiday and despite this a quarter of us will take to the ‘piste’ with no cover at all this winter.  So say recent reports in the media.  Apparently, more than 3million ‘Brits’ are looking to hit the slopes this season but you cannot avoid the element of risk inherent on a winter sports holiday,  no matter if you’re a beginner sliding down a nursery slope or a more confident  skier cruising those blues and reds.  The net result is that an increasing number of skiers and snowboarders are injured each year and, while falls, tumbles and the occasional wipe out are part of the holiday experience, you could be hit hard when it goes wrong.  Being rescued from the ski slopes will now cost you well over £75, while medical expenses could set you back a further £250.  The more serious injury cases could be even more painful both physically and financially.  Repatriation to London from the Alps will cost around £2,500, rising to a hefty £6,000 from the USA.

And if you think that a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will provide you with full medical cover while skiing in Europe, then think again.  The EHIC, which replaced the E111, entitles you to low cost, sometimes free, basic medical treatment on the same terms as all nationals in EU states, but it should not be viewed as a substitute for proper travel insurance as the EHIC will not cover costly extras such as an air ambulance, personal liability, trip cancellation, or loss of baggage.

That said, do not assume a standard travel insurance policy is enough, as most winter sports travel insurance cover has to be bought as an extra option and, even then, check the small print on your policy.  It would be wise to check that the heli-sking or freestyle skiing that you intend to do is covered, not to mention those ‘off piste’ activities you have planned as your ski travel insurance policy could very well exclude these and that could mean being saddled with an unexpected bill if you get injured.

The golden rule is ‘Get the best cover for the activities you are planning to do’.  This is one area of travel insurance where buying cheap travel insurance could definitely end up being a false economy.

Female Travellers – Extra Care When Abroad?

Thursday, July 12th, 2007

Sadly in the modern world we live in, the honest answer to this question is yes. Although the following tips are aimed at ensuring a hassle free and safe trip abroad, many are just common sense suggestions that equally apply to travelling in the UK. Although this article contains information to help you stay safe, this does not mean you don’t need Travel Insurance,even cheap travel insurance will do.

When checking into hotels, use only a first initial. Don’t use a title such as Ms, Mrs or Miss. Never leave a key where someone can note your room number. Don’t leave your window open if your room is on the ground floor and use a door wedge on the inside of your hotel room door for extra security. Be careful about opening your door to anyone – if in doubt check with reception.

When travelling around, the key is to act confidently. Wearing dark glasses can boost confidence and think about how your clothing will fit in with local customs and attitudes. If travelling alone, you may attract unwelcome attention and you may receive unwanted propositions or remarks. It is best just to ignore them. Never accept car rides from strangers or

hitchhike and if possible try and double up with someone you know when travelling by taxi. Always pack your own baggage and never leave it unattended. Never carry packages or anything else through customs for other people.

Try and stay in touch. Keep your family and friends aware of your plans and leave a copy of your itinerary, passport, travel insurance documents and credit cards with someone at home. It is worthwhile taking a copy of these with you when travelling and keep separate from the originals. Once abroad, e-mail or telephone home regularly. Carry a list of British Consular offices in the countries you plan to visit, travel insurance companies normally provide a list or information on what to expect from them.

Don’t forget to check out the latest travel advice from the FCO  before you go and find out about the culture and customs of the countries you will be visiting. And why not take a look at the travel advice section on the www.travelandinsure.com website which contains easy to read advice on the support you will probably receive from embassies and consulates worldwide should you get into difficulty.

Repatriation – Does it really cost an arm & a leg!

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

Arm and leg, what are they on about, we hear you say?  Well, not literally but you could lose your shirt if you are not adequately covered whilst abroad and it all goes wrong.  Shirt, come on stop the riddles – you’ve already lost me!

Sorry to lose you but the latest air ambulance and repatriation costs are a timely reminder on why it is essential to have the correct insurance when on holiday.  Repatriation is generally covered in the medical cover section on these policies but it is important to check the small print very carefully to see if any exclusions apply.

For example, average repatriation costs to the UK are:

  • £30000 to £35000 Air Ambulance from the East Coast of USA.
  • £12000 to £16000 Air Ambulance from the Canaries.
  • £10000 to £12000 Air Ambulance from the Balearics.
  • £1,200 to £3000 Air taxi from Northern France.
  • £15000 to £20000 Scheduled flight, stretcher and Doctor escort from Australia.
  • £9000 to £12000 Scheduled flight with nurse escort from West coast of USA.
  • £1800 to £4000 Scheduled flight with Doctor escort from the Med.
  • £100 to £800 Scheduled flight without an escort from the Med.
  • £3000 to £6000 Scheduled flight, stretcher and Doctor escort from the Med.

So to return to the point of this article, repatriation is costly and at a time when the number one priority is to get home, you do not want to be sat in a far flung destination wondering why you didn’t get the cover before you left.  What is more, when you take out a policy that has the benefit of a 24-hour emergency service, serious accidents or illnesses will all be managed by the assistance company who will make any necessary arrangements, such as repatriation, and provide help and advice at a time when it is most needed.

For extensive travel insurance, why not visit Travel and Insure – a travel insurance business with a difference!