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Archive for July, 2009

Latest travel advice for Spain

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Following the ETA bomb attacks in mainland Spain and Majorca this week, the Foreign Office has revised its travel advice for travellers warning of a “high threat from terrorism” in the country.

The updated advice, posted just hours after the blast in Palma, Mallorca, warned tourists “they could be targeted by the Basque separatist group adding that attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. The Spanish authorities are fully aware of the impact of terrorism and take measures to protect visitors, but you should be vigilant. Disruptions from real or hoax terror attempts can be expected and a high level of alert is being maintained. You should follow the instructions of the local police and other authorities.”

You need to be aware that most travel insurance providers include terrorism 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. Thankfully the chances of being caught up in these types of incidents are still very slight. So if you do plan to travel abroad, do look at your itinerary and check with your tour operator beforehand who may be able to offer alternative destinations away from the troubled areas.

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

Travel cover for holidays at home

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

With the Summer holidays now in full swing, more of us have decided to take our break in the UK this year. Not surprising when financial concerns are still uppermost in people’s minds and thinking twice about spending hard-earned wages on expensive overseas holidays. But those opting to stay at home face the same risks as they would abroad. A domestic flight can be as easily cancelled or delayed as an international flight, and UK holidaymakers are similarly vulnerable to theft or damage to belongings.

According to claims data from insurer AXA, cancellation, baggage and cutting short a holiday once started are the most common claims made on domestic holidays. Cancellation accounts for half of all AXA’s claims, with the average amount claimed close to £400.

But there could be other issues. Anyone travelling to the Channel Islands, for example, will not be covered for medical treatment by their European Heath Insurance Card (EHIC) nor the NHS as there is no longer a reciprocal agreement in place between mainland UK and the Channel Islands, so falling ill could be costly without medical cover.

So the message here is that the 12 million Britons hoping to cut costs by holidaying at home this summer could find themselves out of pocket if they haven’t taken out the right travel cover. Therefore it could be well worth taking out travel insurance this summer as accidents do happen and bags go missing, just as they do abroad.

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

Swine flu travel advice

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

There seems to be so much contradictory advice out there when it comes to swine flu so it is no wonder that many people are confused. No more so than when it comes to travel.  With some holiday makers being turned away at check-in because they are showing symptoms of swine flu and school parties being quarantined on arrival in China, it does appear that the long-feared pandemic is beginning to make itself felt.  The best source of quick advice before you travel is the Foreign Office website which has a dedicated Swine Flu page at www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and-living-overseas/swine-flu as well as up to date travel advice on the country you are visiting.

Then there is the question of compensation if you cannot travel.  The good news is that travellers who contract swine flu abroad or have to cancel their trip because of the disease should be covered by their travel insurance policies, according to the Association of British Insurers, that is, if they have one, of course.  Though, do remember that a policyholders would have to have taken out the cover before they caught the disease to qualify for a payout. Likewise, someone who opted to travel to a particular country against advice from the Government or World Health Organization (WHO) could see their insurance policy invalidated.

Let’s assume you have travel insurance, then what happens if your airline refuses to fly you? British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, for example, have admitted they have issued guidance to check-in staff to stop people boarding flights if there is a clear indication that they have the virus. In this instance, you should be covered so long as the decision to turn you away is made by someone medically qualified and the airline provides written confirmation giving details of why it has turned you away. The airline may not be able to give you written confirmation immediately, but insurers should pay out once it is provided. If you are turned away by a non-medically qualified professional, such as a member of the cabin crew or check-in staff, you will have to negotiate compensation from the airline itself.

But what if someone you are travelling with is turned away by the airline? If you are travelling with your spouse, children or other close relatives and are covered by the same insurance policy, the payout will cover cancellation for all included on the policy. But if you are travelling with friends and have separate insurance policies, those who are not suffering or suspected of suffering flu will probably not be covered if they decide not to travel but it is still worth checking with your individual insurer as policy wordings do differ.

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

Annual or Single Trip Travel Insurance – what’s best?

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

One of the first decisions you have to make when taking out travel insurance is whether to buy solely for the planned trip you intend to make or take out a policy that covers more than one trip, widely termed the annual multi-trip policy. The best way to approach this is to look at the advantages of a multi-trip policy but set them against their limitations and then decide on what best suits your needs.

So what does an annual multi-trip travel insurance policy offer you over a single trip policy? Firstly, the more trips you take in a year, the more cost effective an annual policy will be and one purchase lasts the whole year. Many annual travel insurance policies have options, such as Winter Sports cover, included as standard but do check the small print. It is normally possible to extend the individual trip duration for a small extra premium, say from the industry standard of 31 days a trip to 60 or 90 days, which is a much cheaper option than buying a single trip policy for the same period.

But set against this, an annual policy only provides cover for the area you have selected. That is, if you take out an annual policy that provides cover for Europe but then book a holiday later in the year to the USA, then this destination will not be covered so it is something to consider when buying such a policy. The annual policy is a more expensive up front cost though there are some very good internet annual travel insurance deals to be had. Many insurers impose stricter age restrictions for taking out an annual policy compared to the single trip equivalent and there might be restrictions on family annual travel insurance policies that prevent children from travelling independently.

The place to look is on the internet and most travel insurance providers will provide an annual travel insurance quote at the same time as giving you the single trip price so this helps to compare at the time of taking out insurance. If you can plan ahead and want the flexibility of taking more than one holiday or trip abroad, then buying an annual travel insurance policy is, more often than not, a good investment, but do make sure that what you buy satisfies your particular needs.

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

Pack your family travel insurance

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

With family’s thoughts turning towards the approaching summer holiday period, it is still surprising that many parents leave it to the last minute or forget entirely to take out travel insurance to cover themselves and their family whilst on holiday. And all the more surprising when you realise that family travel insurance is a very small outlay compared to the overall cost of your holiday.

All insurers will offer inexpensive travel insurance cover for families and this includes single parent families. Obviously, when choosing the right policy, it pays to read the small print, but the normal deal is that children are covered free within the policy and the adults pay the normal rate that applies for couples, or a percentage of this price for lone parents. That must be good news and anything that helps to reduce the overall cost of trips abroad is a real bonus when everything else is generally charged on a per person basis.

But before you buy, do check what is covered within the travel insurance policy and what may have to be included as an extra. For example, how many children are counted as free? Many insurers cap this at 4 kids but there are providers who extend this to 6 or even an unlimited number, which is great news for the ‘old woman with so many children who lived in a shoe’, but then again she probably couldn’t afford to go on holiday in the first place!

Do also check the family definition to make sure it includes foster children and legal guardian within this. Generally, family travel insurance cover includes children up to the age of 18 years, but again some providers offer cover up to 21 years or even 23 years if they are in full time education so this can be a great saving though, by the time they have reached these ages, not many want to go on family holidays together with their parents but it is a good option to have all the same.

Look out for annual travel insurance policies that permits kids to travel independently of their parents for just a small additional premium. This is good option to consider when the children are of secondary school age and above because this provides cover for school ski trips, cultural visits abroad and summer expeditions which crop up within school and university life. The alternative is to pay out for insurance for these trips separately but this will invariably be more expensive than adding this to a family travel insurance policy.

But do remember, your travel insurance cover is only as good as the policy you purchase and the cheaper the policy, the greater the restrictions there will be in place. So don’t assume that you have the right cover by ticking the travel insurance box when you book your flight or holiday. It always pays to check the small print to make sure that your family is properly insured.

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

Value your valuables!

Monday, July 6th, 2009

Picture the scene, you get home after the perfect holiday and open your suitcase and unpack. Only then do you question, “Where did I put the camcorder? I’m sure I packed it alongside the souvenirs or did I?” “Not to worry, I’ll claims against the travel insurance”. But this is where it can all come unstuck because most insurers put restrictions on items, such as photographic equipment, and lump them under the disarming term, ‘valuables’.

And it doesn’t stop there as this term includes many other articles, some which you would expect to be looked upon as a valuable item, such as jewellery and watches, but may also include, such everyday items as, spectacles, sunglasses, mobile phones, MP3 players and more. You name it, and if it is an attractive and fashionable item, then it’s probably safe to assume that, for insurance purposes, it will be grouped into the valuables definition.

What’s more, your money, travel documents, passports, credit cards could well come under the stricter care rules that are applied to ‘valuables’. So returning to the camcorder, most travel insurance policies will not pay up if it looks like negligence on your part. For example, valuable items packed into your hold luggage are rarely covered because theft from unattended baggage will invariably be excluded. If you can prove that the items were with you or locked in your hotel accommodation then insurers will probably pay out but they may ask for further information, such as the circumstances of the loss or theft and a police report or hotel report to back up your story. Highly valuable items, such as money and jewellery, will always be expected to be locked away in a hotel safe or safety box when not on your person; inside a locked suitcase inside a locked hotel room is rarely good enough for the travel insurance company.

This is why it pays to look at the small print of your policy before you travel, if only as a last minute reminder about the extra care needed to look after your valuable items. No-one wants to lose these items in the first place but it is doubly painful to find that they are not covered when you come to claim because simple safety precautions were not followed. A final point to remember is that if your travel insurance does not cover it, then some household insurance policies cover ‘all risks.’ This means that personal belongings could still be covered but travel insurance providers will still apply the golden rule that the articles must be properly cared for whilst on holiday.

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

British Airways strike prospect

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

British Airways faces the prospect of strike action as their latest cost cutting talks with unions end in deadlock.  If the dispute is not settled, it could lead to a ballot for industrial action which would threaten disruption during the busy summer period. Pay cuts were agreed with leaders of BA pilots in early June but talks have continued for the past few weeks with unions representing other groups, including cabin crew, baggage handlers and check-in staff. As usual it is the travelling public who are the pawns caught in the middle who will have to put up with a summer of cancellations, delays and frustration.

For those flying from UK airports and who suffer delays or are stranded, then it’s useful to know what rights you have. Under the European directive of Air Passenger Rights, all EU operators have a duty of care to passengers and should be responding to claims for delay by providing at least food and drink vouchers for those caught up in the delays at the airports.   If you are stopped from boarding, you may be entitled to compensation between €125 and €600 depending on flight distance and the delays incurred when re-routed.  For long delays, you may request a refund of your ticket if the delay exceeds five hours, but only if you decide not to travel. The only snag is that, as with so much EU legislation, what is given in one hand is often taken away in the other. Under these rules the airline can claim protection for delays relating to, yes that’s right, “strikes” amongst others. The protection the airlines have is a sting in the tail for passengers as losses from “Weather, Air Traffic Problems, Security & Safety, Political Unrest, and Strikes, are reasons why an airline will not pay out compensation to travellers. So all WASPS have a sting in their tails!

So what about travel insurance? Under the delay section of a policy, most insurers will give some benefit for periods of delay faced at the airport. Do check your individual travel insurance documents as some of the cheaper basic covers do exclude this protection.

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