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Archive for March, 2012

Spain strike causes travel disruption

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Hundreds of flights to and from Spain have been cancelled due to a general strike which has been called by unions in protest over planned austerity cuts and changes to labour laws.

If your flight is cancelled, check with your airline or tour operator before travelling. Airline websites are often the best place to find this information.

You should, in most cases, receive a refund if your airline cancels your flight.  However, when flights are cancelled for reasons beyond the airline’s control, EU Regulation 261/2004 applies. This gives passengers the choice of accepting a refund and making their own way home, or accepting an alternative flight. If a passenger accepts a refund, the airline will have fulfilled its obligations.

If you accept an alternative flight, the airline is responsible for meals and refreshments, hotel accommodation and two telephone calls or emails. If the length of time until the next available flight is unreasonable (the number of days is not specified), the airline should book passengers onto another airline though this rarely happens. Most European airlines will not pay for a flight on another carrier.

Instead, they will insist that passengers wait for the next available flight. Some airlines organise accommodation, others will refund the cost of a budget hotel. Should your airline advise you to buy your own food and accommodation, keep all receipts, and keep such costs to a reasonable minimum, before making a claim when you get back to the UK. If you choose to make your own way home overland, it is highly unlikely that airlines will be responsible for the costs of alternative travel arrangements.

The situation is better if you are on a package holidays as passengers should be looked after by their tour operator, and the operator is legally obliged to get you home. Customers will usually be allowed to stay in their original hotel or will be moved to one of a similar standard on a half-board or all-inclusive basis. The exact situation will depend on the operator’s booking terms and conditions.

If you have travel insurance, check your policy wording as you may be able to claim for travel delay at the airport and be eligible to abandon your holiday once you have been delayed for a certain number of hours, generally after 24 hours delay. Some policies have different levels of cover for a “consequential loss”, such as a hotel booking made independently. You will need to check the terms and conditions which apply to your policy directly with your insurer.

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

Travel insurance for holidays at home – worth considering

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Most cheap travel insurance bought in the UK is aimed at people resident in the UK and, indeed, will require customers to indicate that they have lived in the UK for a period of six months.  It is also a fact that most people buy travel insurance for trips and holidays abroad but insurers do offer policies for travel just within the UK.  It is not uncommon to find that Ireland will be included in this definition.  The big advantage of UK only cover is that the premiums can be ridiculously low – well below £5 for a 3 day break is very common place.

But is it worth taking out in the first place?  The answer really depends on the type of holiday planned, the length of stay and whether you want to accept the risk of not being covered if something does go wrong.  It is also worth remembering that UK travel insurance cover is generally included if you take out the more expensive Europe of Worldwide cover, though do check the small print rather than assuming that this is always the case. 

A Europe or Worldwide annual multi-trip travel insurance policy will be more expensive as an initial payment up front but will cover you for an unlimited number of trips abroad and in the UK, throughout the year, provided the length of stay of each trip does not exceed the policy limit, normally around 31 days away per trip.

So is a UK travel insurance policy worth considering?  Probably, yes, if only one or two short breaks a year are planned and it will be inexpensive to purchase for the cover provided.  This can be very useful should you subsequently cancel a trip, say for illness, as your holiday costs will be reimbursed subject to any excesses to pay.  Your personal belongings will probably be covered too which is an important point to consider as theft and loss is not just confined to holidays on the ‘Costas’ – these things happen at home too. 

 What you will almost certainly not be covered for will be for medical emergencies and expenses as insurers argue that the NHS is available for such instances and will point out that travel insurance is not a substitute for private medical insurance.  The lack of medical cover in UK only travel insurance policies is the main reason why insurers can offer these policies for the very low prices on offer.

On balance, travel insurance for UK holidays and short breaks is probably a good buy for those holidaymakers who tend to stay at home for their breaks away and there is an increasing number of people who are doing this.  One final word of warning though is do check the small print as many, if not most, insurers do require you to have proof of booked accommodation for a minimum stay of normally 2 nights away for the policy to be in force so the Sunday ‘trip out’ is definitely outside this definition.

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