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Archive for September, 2007

Making a claim? – How to ‘Gain without the Pain’

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

The reason why we take out travel insurance is to provide that ‘peace of mind’ should something go wrong and we can get our money back or part of it anyway.  But life is never that simple and many of us are disappointed when our claim is declined, all because of obscure clauses in the policy small print which, if we are honest, none of us have bothered to read in the first place.  This is both irritating and costly when it happens and unless there is very strong mitigating circumstances, insurers are very unlikely to back down.  So what can we do to ensure that our claim does not suffer the same fate?

It really is important to read the small print as this will not only tell you what you are and, more importantly, not covered for but will also make you more conscious of what might happen whilst away on holiday and how to deal with it.  As they say ‘Forearmed is Forewarned,’ and it will help ease what otherwise could be a stressful situation if things do go wrong.   What are the common errors that make it easier for an insurer to decline a claim?

Pre-existing medical conditions – Have you declared these when taking out your travel insurance policy? And it is not just restricted to you and your travelling companions.  Most policies are very strict here and ask you to declare a pre-existing medical condition on anyone who could subsequently get you to cancel or curtail your trip.  If you don’t declare it and it subsequently appears on the Medical Certificate, which the insurer will ask you and your GP to complete, then it is highly likely that you won’t get any money back.

Baggage Claims – For loss, theft and damage, you will be required to get a report within 24 hours of the incident, from either the local police for theft claims, from the airline for lost, damaged or delayed baggage and from the hotel or tour representative, often for all three types of loss.  Without these reports, it is probable that your claim will not be upheld.  Travel insurance policies also require original receipts to be sent in to prove proof of purchase and to indicate purchase price.  As most policies do not offer ‘new for old’ cover, a depreciation index is applied so what you get back is normally less than what you paid and this index is harsher if no receipts are provided and will be capped at a maximum amount per item (normally around £60).

Valuables, Money and Personal Effects – Is your mobile phone covered? What about your kids Nintendo Game Boy? These are simple questions but it is too late to assume that they are insured after the event. Valuables and Personal Money have even stricter rules applied to them and need to be looked after with greater care.  Money for instance should be in a locked safe if not on your person (a locked drawer in your room is seldom ok.  Likewise valuables should NEVER be left in ‘checked in’ luggage as this will definitely invalidate your claim.

It can be a  minefield out there designed to trip up the unwary but with a little bit of preparation before you take out your travel insurance and sensible precautions once on your holiday, you can substantially improve your chances of coming home not out of pocket.

Natural disasters – does your Travel Insurance cover you?

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

Reports of hundreds of fires sweeping across mainland Greece this summer was a timely reminder that we can all be caught up in a disaster, natural or man made, but certainly not of our own making.  Whilst the FCO will be giving out important travel advice and, in extremis, will have contingency plans in place to extract British nationals should it ever be deemed necessary, as occurred in 2006 in the Lebanon, most of us will have to rely on tour operators and local representatives to look after us when on holiday. This is where a good travel insurance policy comes into play which, when it all starts to go wrong on holiday, you can fall back on to get you out of trouble.

Returning to the fires raging in Greece, and this applies to any natural disaster in other regions of the world, most travel insurance policies will provide a level of specific cover that can be used to lessen the impact on the insured holiday maker.  This cover will range from paying for alternative accommodation should the existing accommodation become uninhabitable to cancelling your trip before you travel or curtailing the trip once away.  Before making such a claim, it would be normal for your travel insurance provider to expect the tour operator to provide alternative accommodation free of any extra charges or offer a refund before making any settlement.

Cover should also extend, but do check the small print as policies do differ, to providing emergency medical cover and repatriation in the event that you or your travelling companions are injured or worse.  This is no different from suffering a road traffic accident but becomes more complex when incidents are caused as a result of civil commotion and unrest or, say, a terrorist attack.  Some policies provide cover for all eventualities but you will have to pay a hefty premium for this and you will have to weigh up the risks of it happening and whether you should really be there in the first place if looking for cover at this end of the travel insurance spectrum.

Ethical Travel Insurance

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

There has been a recent boom in ‘Ethical’ products following on from the success of ‘Fair Trade’ and ‘Organic’ but is this all marketing hype designed to boost a company’s profits?  There is no doubt that the use of any of these labels opens up a totally justified debate on whether they are sufficiently defined to give the general public the assurances they need.  Take ‘Fair Trade’ which has now established itself as a recognised standard but what transparency does the consumer have on whether the price they pay have any bearing on the fairness claims that are made and is the premium that they are prepared to pay for such products, on prices set by the end seller, have more to do with what the market will bear than on making any real difference to the third world producer?

The selling of ethical travel insurance and financial products falls into the same category.  A simple claim that a percentage of profits are channelled into good causes is all well and good but the discerning customer should look beyond these headline grabbing claims and ask serious questions.  Take Travel Insurance – there are literally hundreds of companies, many well known, that jump onto the bandwagon simply to try and grab a share of this growing market.  This is tantamount to using strong arm tactics to drown out the voices of those genuine companies and charities that are offering ethical travel insurance with a difference.  Only by looking at the whole picture can you appreciate what makes these new up and coming ethically driven companies a much more attractive option for those who do care about where they put their money.  Whether it is directed at helping those in need, say in the developing world or aimed at ecological issues, such as climate change, how companies in the financial sector face up to the growing demand for Corporate Social Responsibility will be the benchmark requirement on which they will be judged in the future.

In financial services broadly, and travel insurance in particular, travelandinsure.com with its ethically viable and socially sustainable product, is among a core of companies who have realised that this is central to how their business operates, and are truly making a difference.