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Archive for September, 2008

Winter Sports cover essential

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Did you know that 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 coming winter? That’s a staggering number of people travelling uninsured when you realise that more than 3million ‘Brits’ are looking to hit the slopes this season.  But is that really wise when it’s hard to 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 getting injured each year and, whilst 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 is usually 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 is covered if that is what you intend to do, not to mention those ‘off piste’ activities you have planned. 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. This article is brought to you by Travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

Cancelled travel plans – get covered

Monday, September 29th, 2008

It nearly always pays to get cancellation cover for your holiday trip abroad.  All travel insurance policies offer this, though you may find that cover is limited, the cheaper the policy. This is one reason why some travel insurers offer a series of policies. Gold, Silver and Bronze for example is a popular method to differentiate policies as is Premier, Standard and Economy. Cancellation cover will be offered at various rates with £3,000 being a common average figure. But do look at your personal circumstances and make sure that the cancellation cover you take out is adequate for the trip you plan to take. If you are going on a cruise, then it is quite possible that you will require a higher level of cancellation cover than, say, for a package holiday to the Mediterranean. If you are booking a late minute deal, then perhaps you don’t need more than the minimum, if any, level of cancellation cover. The rule here is to buy the policy that covers your requirements and not just accept the ‘standard’ policy on offer. What is surprising is that latest research still shows that nearly half of travellers (47%) wait until the last week to buy their travel insurance. What people, perhaps, don’t realise is that cancellation cover only comes into force when you take out insurance and, if this left until the last minute, then you will not have the protection which you would have had if you had taken out travel insurance at the same time that you booked your holiday, which could be several months before the actual trip. That way, cover would be provided for a range of events, such as unexpected serious illness to the policy holder, travelling companion and quite often, illness or worse of a close relative which results in you having to cancel your trip. Whilst on the subject of cancellation, do check that the same level of cover extends to curtailing or cutting short your trip and also look out for holiday abandonment, which is closely linked to cancellation, for when, after a set period of delay at your departure airport or seaport, your policy offers you the option of not continuing your trip and being reimbursed for your costs up to a specified limit. So the best advice is that travel insurance should not be relegated to a ‘necessary evil’ purchased just before your travel but should be considered as a fundamental pre-requisite to protect your holiday investment. This article is brought to you by Travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

Computer glitch causes travel delay

Friday, September 26th, 2008

Passengers whose flights were cancelled when a computer glitch shut down the UK’s main air traffic control centre have been faced with  trying to rescue ruined travel plans.  The fault occurred at one of the systems at Swanwick Air Traffic Control Centre in Hampshire and although the problem was fixed within hours, airlines had already been forced to cancel some flights and airports were facing a backlog of flights waiting to leave and land. Departures were grounded at Cardiff and London’s City airport and airports including Heathrow, Luton, Gatwick and Cardiff saw cancellations. British Airways said because planes were likely to be stranded in the wrong place and passengers could suffer a knock-on effect over the next few days. If you do miss your flight due a situation such as this, then do try and get written confirmation from the airport or airline to substantiate the reason for the disruption in case a travel insurance claim is necessary. Likewise, if your airline delays flights, then do keep receipts of any expenses you are forced to make as a result of the delay and approach your airline for compensation for meals, refreshments and accommodation. If your flight is cancelled, ask your airline for a refund or an alternative flight. Missed departure and travel delay are key components of most travel insurance policies but do shop around before buying and do check the terms and conditions to ensure there are no exclusions that could affect you. Travel insurance is there to assist when it goes wrong so it makes sense to have some cover in place whenever you travel.  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.

Future of Alitalia looks bleak

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

Italy’s civil aviation authority is warning that Alitalia’s planes could be grounded in as little as three days unless the airline comes up with an emergency cost-cutting strategy. It has been on the brink of collapse for years but the situation has been made even more bleak in recent months by high fuel prices and the worldwide economic downturn. The Foreign Office has updated its advice that whilst Alitalia’s fate is unknown, as it struggles to stay aloft, and given a reported risk of strikes and flight cancellations at short notice, then travellers should contact their travel agent or airport for updates before setting off.  ABTA are also advising that if you’ve booked an Alitalia ticket as part of a package holiday then the tour operator is responsible for sorting out alternative flights. If you’ve booked a ticket direct with the airline, then there is no such protection. However, if you made a payment of £100 or more with a credit card, you’ll be able to get a refund through the credit card company but they won’t refund the cost of buying a flight on another airline if you find yourself stranded. Some travel insurance providers offer scheduled airline failure insurance, normally sold separately, or sold as dynamic packaging protection as part of a travel insurance policy but it is important always check the small print if these are offered because they can be quite restrictive in their cover.  This article is brought to you byTravelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

BA temporarily halts flights to Pakistan

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

British Airways has stopped all flights to Pakistan following the bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, a spokesman for the airline has confirmed this morning – “We have temporarily suspended our flight operations in Pakistan following Saturday’s suicide attack. The safety of our customers, crew and aircraft is of paramount importance. The situation is being reviewed by our head office in London. Right now, we are not in a position to give any date for the resumption of our operations.” The Foreign Office has confirmed that the British Embassy in Islamabad, one of the largest in the world and employing 150 UK workers, is functioning as normal today but has also warned of a a heightened threat to Westerners in Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar and is advising against all non-essential travel to these cities at this time. Should you become caught up in incidents related to acts of terrorism, you need to be aware that most travel insurance providers include this as a general exclusion in their policies. The impact of this is that you may not be as well insured as you think you are. If in doubt, do check with your travel insurance company before you travel and look at your policy wording. Generally, medical expenses and medical repatriation will be included but if you want to be covered for all eventualities then you will have to pay an increased premium for this. 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.

Gatwick up for sale

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

Gatwick Airport has been put up for sale by BAA, though the owner of London’s three major airports has pledged to continue its fight against a decision by the Competition Commission that the company should sell a second London airport. BAA owns Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. Gatwick, which is Britain’s second largest airport may fetch about £3bn. Interest in Gatwick and its retail revenues is likely to be keen. Its two terminals handle 35 million passengers per year and, according to BAA, its single runway is the busiest in the world. Its massive shopping malls would also be attractive for an investor. Richard Branson, the tycoon who founded Virgin Atlantic, said he would be interested in joining a consortium to buy Gatwick. He is one of many airline operators that have criticised BAA’s London airport monopoly. One person who will definitely be pleased by this move will be London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson, who recently experienced first hand at Gatwick the all too common delays and lost baggage that beset Britain’s airports. Summing it up neatly “to call this service ‘Third World’ is an insult to the many gleaming and efficient airports of developing nations. In their contemptuous indifference to the customer, the airport authorities remind me of the 1970s, and the trades unions of my childhood. Gatwick is the eighth most busy airport in the world, and the sheer volume of passengers coming to London airports is a testimony to the attractions of the city and the dynamism of the British economy. But in four years, we are due to welcome the world to the London Olympics, and we need to sort this chaos out now.”  A change of owner may not see an improvement overnight but it is certainly a huge step in the right direction.  This article is brought to you by Travelandinsure.com

– specialist 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.

Further travel woes as XL collapses

Friday, September 12th, 2008

XL Leisure, Britain’s third biggest tour operator, has gone into administration grounding all of its flights and leaving 85,000 passengers stranded overseas. It is the latest setback for holidaymakers, almost 2,500 of whom were stranded when package holiday firm Seguro collapsed earlier in the same week. Both companies collapsed after failing to cope with high fuel costs and the economic downturn which has led consumers to cut their spending on holidays. Anyone travelling with XL’s package tour arm will be protected under the ATOL bonding system. Those abroad will be brought home at no expense to themselves. Others who booked a holiday will be able to get a full refund. Passengers whose XL flights were part of a package tour, albeit from another operator, will be in a similarly fortunate position. Travel industry experts said those people who had booked holidays through tour operators should receive a refund but those travellers who made bookings through the company’s website, XL.com or via XL call centres, will not qualify. The only hope for passengers who bought flights directly from XL is to seek cash back from their credit card company, assuming they used a credit card for the transaction but anyone who paid using a debit card, cash or a cheque to can only hope that their holiday travel insurance provides protection against the collapse of an airline failing. This article is brought to you by Travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance