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Archive for January, 2009

French strike causes travel disruption

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Yet another French strike has caused widescale travel disruption and, as is becoming normal these days, very little warning is given to the ordinary travelling public.  This time, a strike over the French government’s handling of the economic crisis resulted in one third of all departures from Paris’s Orly Airport being cancelled, 40% of high speed TGV trains cancelled and many flights delayed in French regional airports.  With the winter ski season in full swing, airports such as Genoble, Lyon and Chambery, the gateway arrival points for skiers to the Alps, all suffered flight delays as employees across France from dozens of public and private sectors, including airport staff, train drivers, teachers and postal workers protested at rising unemployment and French government inaction. Travellers to France are advised to check with their travel provider before setting off for the latest news and to check that their travel insurance policies provide adequate cover for missed departure, travel delay and abandonment.  This article is brought to you by Travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

Be alert for theft on holiday

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

Bags do go missing, as witnessed during last year’s disastrous opening of Heathrow’s Terminal 5, but regrettably the high incidence of theft abroad goes largely unreported. But it is a growing problem and affects thousands of holidaymakers abroad each year. Generally when we go abroad, our guard is down and this is what the professional gangs and pickpockets look out for. Whilst baggage that is lost, whilst under the control of the airline, may be attributed to theft, generally this will be marked down as lost in transit and a claim against the carrier and travel insurance will be fairly straight forward providing that a passenger irregularity report is obtained from the airline. But this is just the tip of the iceberg for the unwary traveller. Many thefts occur as soon as you have picked up your bags and ventured into the arrivals hall. Picking up a hire car is a very common place to be targeted where bags are taken whilst distracted at the counter. Travelling on public transport is another popular target area where jostling can appear harmless, only to find that a purse or wallet has been taken in the confusion. Placing bags under your chair in a restaurant is an open invitation to it being lifted.

If you are unfortunate to have any items stolen on holiday, do make a list of the items stolen and cancel your credit cards and travellers cheques immediately. Go to the local police station as soon as possible and insist on a police report. This is an absolute must if you intend to claim on your travel insurance and most policies insist that this should be done within 24 hours of the incident. If you don’t, then you will find your insurer less inclined to pay out. If you lose your passport, then contact the nearest British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate who will be able to issue you with an emergency replacement passport to get you home.

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

Travel advice when abroad

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

People often ask what they should do if they get into difficulties abroad and who they should contact.  A comprehensive travel insurance policy is there to give you that ‘peace of mind’ in the event of a medical emergency, airport delays and loss of personal belongings but, when abroad, you may become the victim of an incident and you need to know who to turn to in your hour of need.  Medical Assistance companies tied to your travel insurance are a first port of call and, if you are on an organised holiday, then the tour operator is likely to have a resident representative at the resort.  More and 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 also 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.  They can also be contacted by telephone on 0845 850 2829.

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 Foreign and Commonwealth Office will do everything they properly can to help British people in difficulty abroad. 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 – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

Medical cover for travel abroad.

Monday, January 19th, 2009

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.

Are you covered for one way travel?

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

A common question asked in relation to travel is whether it is possible to buy travel insurance for one way travel. Yes, you can is the short answer but do look around as not every travel insurance policy provides this level of cover and you could be caught out. What do we mean by one way travel? This is taken to mean when someone has open ended travel plans and has not bought a return leg or, perhaps, if someone is emigrating and wants to have cover for the travel part of their itinerary. The advice here is to check the policy wording carefully. Some policies, mostly at the cheaper end of the market, will not have cover in place for one way travel and will require travellers to have purchased, or have proof of purchase, of a return ticket and insurers will ask to see this, if and when, a claim is made. Once you have found a travel insurance provider who will cover one way travel, you do need to remember that cover will only be provided for the period of their insurance or there could be a restriction on how long the cover is in place once you have arrived at your final destination. This could easily be overlooked. Likewise, don’t assume that your annual multi-trip insurance policy will cover you for the period you spend away, as most of these policies do have trip limits. So if your annual policy allows you to take individual trips of, say, 31 days per trip, then if your one way travel exceeds this then you will definitely not be covered after that period.  The lure of the open road, not restricted by an end date, has much to recommend it but don’t let this search for complete travel freedom catch you out. This article is brought to you by Travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

 

New entry regulations for travel to the USA

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

From 12th January 2009, Britons will have to get permission in advance to enter the USA under tighter regulations that have just come into force. Up until now, the US Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) allowed most British Citizen passport holders to visit the US for up to 90 days. The types of journeys that were permissible under the VWP included general travel/tourism, certain types of business and when passing through to another country. However, the US has now put in force new measures that require all those travelling under the Visa Waiver Programme to provide details online 72 hours prior to travel, this is known as an Electronic Travel System or ESTA. This system has been voluntary up to now but has become compulsory for all travellers from 12 January 2009. The online applications will replace the forms that passengers fill out on board an aircraft as it crosses the Atlantic. Travellers will be expected to answer questions about criminal convictions, communicable diseases and whether a visa application has ever been turned down.  Applications should be made at least 72 hours in advance.   ESTA applications are free of charge and can be made at the following website: . Anyone turning up without an authorisation to travel is likely to be prevented from boarding or could be turned away on arriving in the USA. The move is one of a series of measures adopted by Washington as it tries to tighten up border security. Other plans include fingerprinting passengers as they leave the country. Electronic travel authorities once obtained will be valid for a period of two years, or the validity of the travellers passport (whichever is shorter). At present, US authorities do not propose to levy a charge for this service, although they have reserved the right to consider doing so in the future. If you do not have Internet access, a third party, such as a relative or travel agent, may apply for the ESTA for you. However, you will still be responsible under the law for the questions answered on your behalf. This article is brought to you by Travelandinsure – specialist in Ethical Travel Insurance.  

Redundancy cover – surely that’s standard!

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

A certain no frills carrier has made much of its latest offer to provide free cancellation cover for anyone who buys a ticket from them in January and is then made redundant .  According to this airline, this latest innovation is a response to the economic pressures currently faced by everyone in the country and in recognition of job insecurity which is a crucial issue for families and their travel plans in 2009. The free-of-charge policy has been designed specifically to reassure travellers that they will not be left out of pocket in the event of redundancy. Well, that sounds a good deal but hold on a moment, surely all travel insurance policies provide cover for cancellation caused by redundancy?  Yes they do and more, a travel insurance policy also provides all the other essential elements of cover needed for total protection, such as medical, baggage, missed departure and travel delay, to mention just a few.  So on the surface, this looks a generous offer but it may well lull unsuspecting travellers into thinking that this all they need. Redundancy cover, however it is packaged and marketed, is such a minor part of what is needed to protect travellers and holiday makers.  One last point about redundancy cover and this is, do look at the small print as this protection is subject to current UK legislation. That means, to receive a refund of your holiday costs, you will need to have been in full time employment with your employer for a minimum of two years at the time of being made redundant, otherwise you will not be covered.  This article is brought to you by Travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

What to look for in your ski cover

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

Everyone appreciates the thrills of Wintersports but not everyone appreciates the dangers that are associated with it. It is very important to ensure that your travel insurance provider supplies you with a travel insurance policy that gives you peace of mind when on the slopes.Of course, if you are intent on skiing at the next winter Olympics, you are advised to look for more specialist insurance cover but for those taking a traditional family winter holiday or popping over to the Alps with a few friends then a family travel insurance policy is ‘just the ticket’. There are many so called cheap travel insurances on the market but do they provide adequate cover? What should you be looking for in your travel insurance policy?

Medical expenses – £5 million

Personal liability – £2 million

Cancellation – £3000

Baggage – £1500

Many travel insurance policies do not include an additional sum insured for delayed ski equipment on top of the normal baggage delay. This is certainly something to consider. It is also important to make sure your travel insurance policy covers ‘off piste’ activities (provided you are accompanied by a qualified guide) and piste closure because of too much, or too little snow, or adverse weather conditions, and, of course, your skis and equipment against loss or damage. With all the above covered you can enjoy your winter sports holiday knowing your travel insurance will cover you no matter what eventualities may arise. This article is provided by Travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

Travel delays on West Coast Main Line

Monday, January 5th, 2009

The accident over the weekend on the major rail route between London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly has sparked severe disruptions for travellers heading home after the Christmas break.  More than 100 trains on the West Coast Main Line, to and from London Euston, were cancelled after overhead wires became damaged, blocking all tracks at Watford Junction on Sunday afternoon. The latest disruption was caused when a light aircraft crashed into power cables, killing the two occupants and forcing the cancellation of many trains on the route between London and Manchester. Commuters will be hoping they do not see a repeat of last year’s chaos, when engineering work at key sections of the rail network were not complete, causing disruption well into the New Year. So are you covered if you take out a travel insurance policy? Well, for those taking trips abroad and caught up on their way to the airport, then yes you may well be. Under most travel insurance policies, insurers will respond to claims for Delay and Abandonment as well as Missed Departure. Some insurers provide cover for events beyond your control so if you have been delayed by the rail disruption, then your travel insurance will cover you for additional accommodation and travel expenses incurred to get you to your destination, so all is not lost. But do obtain a written report from train company if your rail journey is delayed or cancelled which you should include in any claim you make.  This article is brought to you by Travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.