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Archive for July, 2010

British tour operator Goldtrail collapses at start of holiday season

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

British tour operator, Goldtrail, has collapsed leaving thousands of holidaymakers abroad and many more facing the prospect of cancelled summer holidays. Goldtrail, trading as Goldtrail Travel and Sunmar, operated flights and holiday packages from many UK airports to Turkey and Greece. It sold mainly through travel agents.

The Civil Aviation Authority confirmed that Goldtrail had gone into administration with an estimated 16,000 of its customers at overseas destinations. The CAA said it was making arrangements to fly customers home at the end of their holiday under its ATOL (Air Travel Organiser’s Licensing) scheme.

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.

Customers who have paid over £100 of the total invoice price by credit (i.e. not debit) card may be in a better position to recover some of monies paid to Goldtrail, otherwise customers will be subject to the administration process and could well wait some two years or more for a partial or full payment under travel industry bonding arrangements.

With the economic downturn likely to claim more victims, it is doubly important to get some protection. Some insurers offer Passenger Protection Insurance, often termed Dynamic Packaging Protection, sold separately or part of a travel insurance policy but always check the small print if this is offered as these are quite often restrictive in their cover.

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

Why Gap Year Insurance?

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

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.

Travel insurance or EHIC or both?

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

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.

Do I need travel insurance for holidays at home?

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

With the Summer holidays now upon us, more of us have decided to take our break in the UK again 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.