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Archive for December, 2007

Icebergs can really spoil your day!

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

The sinking of the MV Explorer in the Antarctic is a dramatic example of what can go wrong on holiday but, thankfully, these incidents are very few and far between.  But as more travellers venture into more remote areas on the planet, there is an element of risk that will invariably attach itself to such holidays so using reputable tour operators and having adequate travel insurance cover is an absolute must.  But returning this incident for a moment.  Like the Titanic, the MV Explorer had next to no warning.  The iceberg, or growler as it is called when in a submerged state, was invisible, it was dark at the time and the outside conditions below freezing.  So the odds were heavily stacked against both ship and passengers.  The evacuation and subsequent abandonment of the ship was handled extremely well resulting in no loss of life at all and is a credit to the well organised and professional ship staff.  But what of the passengers?  With very little time to prepare, they had to leave most, if not all, of their belongings onboard, brave the inhospitable polar seas, and, though not uppermost in their minds, curtail their holiday and return home.

To be honest, this is a small price to pay for surviving such an ordeal, but they will now be seeking some form of compensation from both the Tour operator and their travel insurance.  This is such a good example on why travel insurance is so necessary when going on holiday.  Most people tend to think about losing a bag or suffering a delay at the airport but travel insurance covers so much more.  The list is almost endless.  Passengers will be eligible for reimbursement of the rest of their holiday by having to curtail it short, any hospital costs from injuries sustained should be covered with repatriation included where necessary, personal belongings will be covered, legal costs should also be covered for any subsequent litigation and any lasting injury or death as a result could be covered by the personal accident part of the policy.  Thankfully, this type of incident is rare but it does happen though the Tsunami in Indonesia and Thailand in 2005 falls into this category as another example of where it paid to have travel insurance.  It won’t stop the incident occurring but will significantly ease the distress and pain in the aftermath.

So when deciding on purchasing travel insurance on your next trip, do think of the bigger picture rather than the loss on an ipod.  Travel insurance is a bit like an iceberg.  With an iceberg the damage is done by what you don’t see, whilst travel insurance comes into its own in the sections that you don’t normally read.

Why family cover is a great deal?

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

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 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.

Silver Surfer – why it’s cool to be over 60!

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

What’s in a name!  Quite a lot actually and the one being coined for the older age group at the moment is that of ‘silver surfer’ and what a great name it is.  For those approaching retirement, it sums up neatly, and in such a positive way, what the future holds in store.  No longer should terms such as ‘the grey generation’ be used to describe this large section of the population.  Retirement is not ‘grey’ but bright and vibrant. ‘The future’s bright, the future is …..’ as one well known advert puts it but it could easily be used for a vision of the future of many people entering retirement, fit, healthy and better off than their equivalents of previous generations.  Children off their hands, spare cash, mortgages paid off and free time, this generation has never had it so good.  So the term ‘ Silver Surfer’ conjures up the picture of far off places, living new experiences, being active and enjoying life and why not.  After all, isn’t this what we all work for?

But there is a fly lurking in the ointment, or sun tan cream for that matter.  Why then, when life is starting to look up, is it so difficult to find a travel insurance policy that does not penalise us for being older than the average.  Generally, if in good health, insurers will provide the same rates for anyone between the ages of 18 and 65 but boy, once this threshold is breached, it’s open season on anyone the wrong side of this notional bracket.  Try and find an annual travel insurance policy when you are past 70, they exist but at a price.  The simple fact is that those ‘over 65’ are deemed a greater risk for cancelling a holiday before going, curtailing a holiday once abroad and incurring higher medical costs but it is time that policies were more tailored to the individual rather than the group.  There are many 70 year olds fitter than twenty something’s and less at risk on their cruise down the Danube than the bright young things strutting their stuff on the dance floor in Ayia Napa but it was ever thus!

There is no easy answer except it pays to shop around and there are travel insurance providers for the ‘over 65’ age group on the market which also provide cover for pre-existing medical conditions travel insurance.  But don’t allow the extra premium you may have to pay to enjoy your new found lifestyle dissuade you from taking out adequate cover in the first place.  A hefty medical bill will certainly drain those hot vibrant colours back to grey in no time if you do decide to take the risk of having no cover.