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Archive for June, 2009

Gap Year Travel Insurance

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Looking for Gap Year insurance?  Here are some common pitfalls to be aware of when choosing your Gap Year travel insurance policy.

Firstly don’t buy the wrong policy!  It’s easily done.  For instance, a cheap tourist policy is unlikely to cover working abroad, and it would be unwise to rely on your parent’s annual family travel insurance to cover you as this may not cover you at all.  So the advice here is to buy a good quality, specialist Gap Year Travel Insurance policy.

Secondly, beware of exemptions. All policies have them, and there are huge variations.  So you really do need to read and understand the small print to ensure that the cover is sufficient for your circumstances. Check it covers the sports and activities you may want to do, and remember that many of the more risky activities that travellers undertake are ‘spur of the moment’ decisions.  Check that you are covered to work, whether paid or voluntary.

Thirdly, you may need to cancel your trip. You should buy your insurance as soon as you book your trip to ensure that you are covered to cancel should you or a close relative become ill or have an accident. Sadly, it is not uncommon for a traveller to suffer a family bereavement during their time away.  Some specialist providers offer cover for the cost of travelling home and back in the event of an unexpected loss of a family member.

And then there is the situation, increasingly common these days, of the airline you are booked to travel on going bust or the FCO issues a warning against all but essential travel as they did when Swine Flu struck Mexico. Remember that it may not be you cancelling the trip. Do check that you are covered if an airline goes bust and what cover is provided should there be a travel warning for a country that you are due to visit.

Finally ‘it’s not the cost that matters but the cover that counts.’ So long as you plan your trip well and take measures to ensure your safety, you are certain to enjoy the wonderful adventure that Gap Year travel offers.

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

Lost luggage still a problem for airlines

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

Some of the best known national airlines still languish at the bottom of the latest ‘lost bags’ league table produced by the Association of European Airlines. Iberia has emerged as the European airline most likely to lose a passenger’s luggage though the airline blames this on a period of heavy snow in January of this year and an industrial ‘work to rule.’ Air France came next worst in the survey followed by the Portuguese carrier, TAP. British Airways, which once used to languish at the bottom of the performance table continued to reap the benefits of Heathrow’s Terminal 5 which, after a disastrous opening, has been functioning well.  Even so, BA have more work to do as their tally of 15 missing bags per 1000 passengers is a long way off from Virgin who fared better at 5 bags lost per 1000 passengers flown.

Whatever the reason, it shows that none of us can safely say these days that it won’t happen to me. 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 don’t let the thought of losing your luggage overly worry you. Just get the required paperwork, know what you can claim for and get on with your holiday.

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

London tube strike latest

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Millions of commuters and visitors to London face travel chaos and major delays after talks aimed at averting a 48 hour strike by Tube workers broke down. Thousands of members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union will walk out from 7pm today, Tuesday 9th, until 7pm on Thursday 11th, bringing the network to a standstill. Boris Johnson, the London mayor, and Transport for London have put in place a series of contingency plans aimed at helping commuters get to work, including extra buses, taxi-sharing and schemes to lead cyclists across the capital and a free River shuttle service.

If you are using London Underground to get to the airport, are you covered if you have taken 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 Underground disruption, then your travel insurance should cover you for additional accommodation and travel expenses incurred to get you to your destination, so all is not lost. The proviso here, of course, is that you need to have bought your travel insurance before the strike was announced.

Do also obtain a written report from London Transport if your journey to the airport 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.

Gap year travel still popular

Monday, June 8th, 2009

According to the FCO, over 200,000 people in the UK, of all ages, are now taking gap years or sabbaticals abroad and the trend to take a gap year is set to grow even more. One estimate puts the global market to be worth a staggering £11 billion pounds by 2011. Whilst the undoubted life enriching experience that a gap year gives to most people is not in question, on the down side, there will inevitably be some level of risk taking when going off for an extended period abroad, often to places well off the beaten track. However,  just because the risk might be greater, that is no reason not to take a gap year because mishaps can and do happen closer to home but gap years do generally involve extended travel to remoter parts of the globe and thereby lies the problem.

Popular gap year destinations over the past five years proves this with the Andean regions of South America and the remoter areas of South East Asia being top of the gap year destination list. So how do you reduce the potential risks involved?  The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does offer very useful advice on their website at www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and-living-overseas and they do keep up to date travel advice information on most, if not all countries.

What is still surprising though is that 25% of all travellers go abroad without adequate travel insurance but why take this unnecessary risk?  Although travel insurance will not prevent something happening to you, it can certainly help to reduce some of the stresses in the aftermath.  Medical expenses including repatriation, loss of baggage, legal assistance, and curtailment are just some of the essential benefits that come with most policies and it is now possible to buy tailored policies from specialist providers to cover almost every combination of gap year.

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

Tough climate for airlines

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

First, British Airways announces record losses and then ‘no frills’ airline Ryanair does the same.  Now we have Richard Branson announcing that he expects the current economic downturn and decline in business travel will result in the collapse of a major American airline in 2009. His own airline, Virgin, seems to have bucked the trend, doubling its profits in the last twelve months but Virgin does appear to be a rare exception in this difficult market.

Competition is fierce between airlines trying to attract a dwindling travelling public leading to bargain basement prices, so much so that there has never been a better time for passengers to travel. Richard Branson put it very well when he reminded everyone that British travellers are currently paying the same price for fares as they were when Virgin launched the airline 25 years ago.

But will this lead to further airlines going out of business? In the past 18 months around 25 airlines have gone under, including Silverjet, Maxjet, XL Airways and Oasis Hong Kong. When this happens, people who book their flights through travel agents might receive a refund but those travellers, who make direct bookings through company’s website, may not be so fortunate.  In this instance, the only real hope for passengers who buy flights directly 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.

Not all travel insurance policies will offer this but 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.

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