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Archive for June, 2008

Travel safely with FCO LOCATE

Monday, June 9th, 2008

The FCO recently launched their LOCATE service which they claim will help them help you in an emergency, such as what happened with the Tsunami in Thailand in 2005 or in the event of a terrorist attack.  By registering online with the FCO and providing your itinerary and contact details, the local British Embassy will know you are on their ‘patch’ and, if a major catastrophe occurs, they will have an instant record of your details and can get in contact with you to make sure you’re OK and provide advice if need be.  The FCO are confident that LOCATE will improve their ability to help in crisis situations and reduce delay and worry in times of stress for family and friend at home.  Simple to register by logging onto the FCO website at www.fco.gov.uk/travel, you only need to do this once and then update your LOCATE account every time you travel and the FCO will then let the next British Embassy know.  Open to all British Nationals travelling and living overseas, this should be on your travel check off list of things to do before departing, particularly if planning to visit the more inaccessible parts of the globe or for those going off on gap years and extended travel.  Even if plans change, it is simple to update your details.  What’s more, once your details are logged on LOCATE, it is possible to then subscribe to FCO country travel advice email alerts which will provide you with the very latest update on the country you’re visiting.  This is particularly useful if, once abroad, the FCO advise you not to travel to a particular area because of an incident, such as civil disturbances, terrorist activity or natural disaster.  As most travel insurance policies have exclusions for travel against FCO advice which could invalidate any subsequent claim, then to have timely advice from the FCO can make it easier to change travel plans and stay protected.  This article is brought to you by travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

Is there such a thing as free travel insurance?

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

There is no such thing as a ‘free lunch’ so why do we believe this when it comes to travel insurance?  Many banks and credit cards now offer free travel insurance for choosing a top branded current account for which you pay a monthly fee, typically between £10 to £15, and in return you get your free travel insurance thrown in. The main concern is that the insurance is sometimes not as user friendly or indeed as comprehensive as one may believe and it is easy to catch a cold.  No pun intended, but problems arise with not declaring medical conditions at renewal, which often happens automatically, and without knowing it many people are not adequately covered because between the start of their policy and the renewal they may have developed a medical condition which is under investigation.  If you don’t advise insurers at the time of renewing your policy, then you may well find that you don’t have the cover you envisaged.  One recent report (Sunday Times 1st June 2008) also revealed how the medical benefit, which should have covered an insured’s extra stay abroad following hospitalisation, actually ended the day they were booked to return, leaving them without adequate cover.  The insurers argued that the extra stay was neither cancellation nor curtailment and as such the medical benefits did not apply after the return date.  It is always worth reading the small print or seeking advice from a professional.  Go to an expert, look at the price and look at the level of cover you are getting.  An annual multi trip policy for Europe will cost as little as £29.99 from Travel and Insure, considerably less than £10 a month on a premium bank account. Its not free but neither is lunch!

Credit Crunch – don’t be a victim!

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

Open any newspaper, listen to the radio or switch on the TV and the news is the same – “it’s the economy, stupid” as our erstwhile politicians keep telling us!… The economy isn’t exactly in a great shape, so in the words often favoured by Chancellors of the Exchequer, is it “sensible or prudent” to go abroad on holiday this year?  So far the pressures in the economy haven’t stopped the great British public and maybe the offers from travel agents and internet websites are still too enticing to be turned down, but is this the year of the Great British getaway?  Many of us our waking up to the fact that the UK has a lot to offer and, at the very least, you’re more or less the master of your own destiny, even taking into account the inevitable M5 traffic jam and West Coast rail turmoil.  Rather that, perhaps, than being stuck at the airport for hours on end.  But by choosing a holiday at home, be it in a hotel, cottage, campsite or even house swap, do you need to buy travel insurance?  The simple answer is “YES”.  Typically we think of travel insurance as covering our medical expenses should we be unfortunate to need help whilst abroad, but there are many other aspects which need to be considered.  There is always the risk of cancellation and now that booking a cottage for a couple of weeks in August, say in Cornwall,  according to one recent report, won’t give you much change out of £1500 for a family, it is all the more important to get some form of cover for the unexpected.  Picture the scene then, Dad, whilst dreaming of scoring the ultimate goal in Euro 2008, breaks a leg playing football with the kids in the back garden and a day before the epic car ride to Cornwall ends up in hospital unable to travel…  Holiday cancelled, yes, but if you are insured, then breathe again.  If not, then even if you decide to stay at home to beat the credit crunch, it could all be in vain and the same credit crunch has claimed another victim.  And that’s just one of many reasons to always buy travel insurance for your trips away.  And don’t forget an annual policy will cover all your pre-booked trips away, abroad or in the UK.  So whether it’s a long weekend in the Cotswolds or in Paris, don’t be just another victim of the Credit Crunch – be protected instead.

Lost bags and travel delay

Monday, June 2nd, 2008

As the summer holiday season hots up, don’t allow luggage mountains, airlines going bust or airport delays spoil your day.  Stuff of nightmares perhaps but the recent the baggage chaos at Heathrow Terminal 5 is still a vivid enough memory to show what can happen.  Although much is outside the direct control of the travelling public, you can go some way to help youself by following some basic simple rules.  Such as, clearly tag your baggage.  This should include your name, your flight number, your departure and arrival destinations and the date of your flight.  A good suggestion is to place your name and address inside the top of your suitcase just in case it needs to be opened by baggage handlers should your luggage be lost when in transit.  Do make sure that, if you lose your bags, you get a Property Irregularity Report from your carrier, preferably before you leave the airport.  If your bags still don’t turn up, then you should get a letter from the airline stating that they are irretrievably lost as you will need this to make a claim for the lost items.  If you suffer delay to your flight once you get to the airport, then do get written confirmation from your airline as to the reasons for and the length of the delay in case a travel insurance claim is necessary.  Do keep receipts of any expenses you are forced to make as a result of a delay and approach your airline for compensation for accommodation, meals and refreshments.  If your flight is cancelled, ask your airline for a refund or an alternative flight.  Lost baggage and travel delay are key components of most travel insurance policies but do shop around before buying and do check the terms and conditions to ensure there are no exclusions that could affect you.  Travel insurance is there to assist when it goes wrong so it makes sense to have some cover in place whenever you travel.