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Archive for August, 2009

FCO reveals latest British behaviour abroad trends

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

The latest British Behaviour Abroad report released by the FCO pinpoints two areas of rising concern, namely motorbike and moped accidents and the rising number of arrests abroad.

Thailand tops the list on accidents with 269 British deaths there in 2008. The figures mean that Thailand has the highest rate of deaths in proportion to the number of British tourists of any country worldwide. In the same period, an estimated 860,000 British tourists visited Thailand. The majority of 324 reported hospitalisations in Thailand were due to motorbike accidents and a high proportion are fatal.

Thailand has one of the world’s highest road traffic accident rates, almost all of which involve motorbikes. Thai law stating that  safety helmets must be worn is widely ignored, according to the FCO, which contributes to the high number of deaths each year. On average 38 people a day die in motorcycle accidents in Thailand. Further to that, some vehicles are not road worthy. The FCO says that many of the motorcycles and scooters that are available for hire in beach resorts are unregistered and cannot legally be driven on a public road. This could invalidate any travel insurance policy should the driver wish to make a claim.

On the subject of travel insurance, the report found that financial pressures are causing many British holidaymakers to forgo travel insurance in a bid to save money. The Foreign Office empahasize that getting comprehensive travel insurance means that, whilst an accident may disrupt your holiday, it won’t bankrupt you in extortionate medical or repatriation bills.

Equally worrying is the rising number of arrests abroad, with Spain a particular hotspot, where 2,032 Britons were arrested last year. This is higher than any other country, although, as a proportion of visitor numbers, the highest number of arrests was in the UAE followed by Thailand. The majority of arrests are drug-related, with one in seven relating to illegal substances. This is particularly so in Thailand where a quarter of arrests were due to drugs. The UAE also has a low tolerance of drugs, according to the FCO. Many Britons arrested in the UAE are transit passengers, who fall foul of the country’s strict drug laws, which prohibit some prescription drugs that are legal in the UK.  

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

Top tips for gap year insurance

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

Planning a gap year? Then here are a few useful tips to make sure you get the cover you need.

Tip 1 Emergency Medical Expenses covers emergency treatment and to get you back home if necessary.  Make sure you have this cover, if nothing else.

Tip 2

 If you have a medical condition(s), do tell the Insurance Company as they may decline any claim if you don’t.

Tip 3 Check the amount insured for cancellation is enough. Some Gap Year trips can cost a lot more than the insurance cover provided.

Tip 4 Check you have cover for an Airline going bust and if the Foreign Commonwealth Office warn travellers to not go to a country you are planning to visit.

Tip 5 Get a policy that provides Personal Liability cover, just in case you accidentally harm someone or something and make sure it does not exclude harming a travelling companion under the Personal liability section and also that it does cover damage to accommodation.

Tip 6 Get Gap Year insurance that covers working/volunteering and watch the small print as some will cover working but not if being paid, and some cover work but exclude many types of job.

Tip 7 Pick the highest grouping of the sports or activity you think you might do or choose a Gap Year Policy that covers all unplanned sports and activities.

Tip 8 Check how much kit you’ve got, and then check the cover provided under personal effects. Many items could be excluded, especially electrical items e.g. laptops, camera’s, etc.

Tip 9 Buy Gap Year and Backpacker Insurance when you book your flight/trip so you are immediately covered if you have to cancel due to illness.

Tip 10 Take two copies of your insurance documents. Leave one at home, take one with you and maybe scan into an internet document safe.

Tip Plus one! For parents A family annual multi-trip policy is for short trips, usually holidays and generally under 31 days for each trip and so is not suitable for extended period away. Children may have to be under 18 and many have travel restrictions.

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

Lost luggage – will it happen to me?

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Flying off for your summmer holidays?  Then it’s not certain that your luggage will arrive with you.  The latest figures from the Post Office show that one in eight of us had experienced baggage delays in the last three years, with almost a quarter of this number waiting up to a week to get their luggage back. And it’s not likely to get better as, according to the Air Transport Users Council, a mind numbing 42 million bags were lost, delayed or damaged in 2007, and this is set to get worse year on year.

Whatever the reason, it shows that none of us can safely say these days that it won’t happen to me. Rules regarding airline liability for mishandled luggage are laid out in the Montreal Convention, which sets the maximum payout at just over £1,000 to cover emergency items or to replace possessions which are damaged or irretrievably lost. But, in reality, passengers can find it hard to get a fraction of this sum. Airlines will ask for original receipts for items that are lost or damaged and, even if you are able to produce these, the airlines are unlikely to pay up in full, on the grounds of depreciation.

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.

Holiday theft a concern for iPod generation

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

Did you know that in the last 5 years, 8 million Britons on holiday abroad have fallen victim to around £3.5 billion worth of theft and that statistics show that iPods are the item most likely to be stolen whilst on holiday? Electrical goods such as mobile phones, digital cameras and camcorders are the other items most commonly taken. Also at high risk are passports, laptops, gaming consoles, games and designer sunglasses.

And where are these thefts most likely to occur? Most holiday thefts occur while the victim is either at the pool or on the beach or within the victim’s accommodation. Travelling on public transport is another popular target area where jostling can appear harmless, only to find that a purse or wallet has been stolen in the confusion. Placing bags under your chair in a restaurant is an open invitation to it being taken.

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.

This article is brought to you by Travelandinsure.com – specialist in Ethical Travel Insurance.

Travel advice when on holiday abroad

Tuesday, August 4th, 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 before you go.  They can also be contacted by telephone for consular assistance on 020 7008 1500. 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.