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Archive for November, 2007

Travel insurance for holidays at home – worth considering?

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

Most cheap travel insurance bought in the UK is aimed at people resident in the UK and indeed, will require customers to indicate that they have lived in the UK for a period of six months.  It is also a fact that most people buy travel insurance for trips and holidays abroad but insurers do offer policies for travel just within the UK.  It is not uncommon to find that Ireland will be included in this definition.  The big advantage of UK only cover is that the premiums can be ridiculously low – well below £5 for a 3 day break is very common place. But is it worth taking out in the first place?  The answer really depends on the type of holiday planned, the length of stay and whether you want to accept the risk of not being covered if something does go wrong.  It is also worth remembering that UK travel insurance cover is generally included if you take out the more expensive Europe of Worldwide cover, though do check the small print rather than assuming that this is always the case.  A Europe or Worldwide annual multi-trip travel insurance policy will be more expensive as an initial payment up front but will cover you for an unlimited number of trips abroad, and in the UK, throughout the year, provided the length of stay of each trip does not exceed the policy limit, normally around 31 days away per trip.

So is a UK travel insurance policy worth considering?  Probably yes if only one or two short breaks a year are planned and it will be very inexpensive to purchase for the cover provided.  This can be very useful should you subsequently cancel a trip, say for illness, as your holiday costs will be reimbursed subject to any excesses to pay.  Your personal effects will probably be covered too which is an important point to consider as theft and loss is not just confined to holidays on the ‘Costas’ – these things happen at home too.  What you will almost certainly not be covered for will be for medical emergencies and expenses as insurers argue that the NHS is available for such instances and will point out that travel insurance is not a substitute for private medical insurance.  The lack of medical cover in UK only travel insurance policies is the main reason why insurers can offer these policies for the very low prices on offer.

On balance, travel insurance for UK holidays and short breaks is probably a good buy for those holidaymakers who tend to stay at home for their breaks away and there is an increasing number of people who are doing this.  One final word of warning though is do check the small print as many, if not most, insurers do require you to have proof of booked accommodation for a minimum stay of normally 2 nights away for the policy to be in force so the Sunday ‘trip out’ is definitely outside this definition!

Why it pays to take care abroad – reducing the risk to yourselves

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

The tragic news that British student, Meredith Kercher, was brutally murdered in Italy whilst on a study gap year is yet another sad reminder of the dangers and hazards that can happen away from home  Sadly, this is not an isolated incident as more and more young people take time out and venture abroad.  It is also true that for the vast majority of us who go on holiday or spend extended periods in other countries, our time abroad can be a totally incident free experience, but it is important to be aware that things do go wrong.  Although the following tips, aimed primarily towards women travellers, should help to ensure a hassle free and safe trip abroad, many are just common sense suggestions that equally apply to male travellers and also for travelling in the UK.

When travelling around, the key is to act confidently.  For women travellers, 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.  In your accommodation abroad, 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.  Again women travellers need to take extra care when checking into hotels and hostels such as, don’t use a title such as Ms, Mrs or Miss, use only a first initial and be careful about opening your door to anyone – if in doubt check with reception.

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.

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 Travel & Insure website which contains easy to read advice on the support you can expect from embassies and consulates worldwide should you get into difficulty.

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.