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Archive for July, 2008

Lufthansa strike causes delays and cancellations

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

The strike by Lufthansa maintenance, catering and cabin crew has seen the cancellation of flights by the German national carrier.  The airline has been advising passengers to look at its website for information on flight departure times and to arrive early at airports.  For UK travellers, the main disruption will be seen on routes between the UK and Frankfurt and Hamburg though disruption could occur across the Lufthansa network.  It is now a regular feature in our every day lives that staff with a grievance will target the busy holiday periods to put pressure on their employers.  Whether this industrial action is justified or not, it will be the traveller who suffers and long queues at check-in desks are now becoming the norm and not the exception and it is now common place for our travel plans to be disrupted by events outside our control.  Whilst we cannot totally avoid being affected, apart from electing never to travel of course, we can limit the financial loss by taking out adequate travel insurance which will provide financial cover and compensation if caught up in airport holiday chaos.  To start with, all travel insurance policies should have a travel delay section, generally to pay a fixed amount for each 6, 12 or 24 hours delay experienced.  This is what is termed as a benefit so does not require receipts to claim but you will need a note from the carrier or airport to confirm the number of hours delayed.  Secondly, most travel insurance policies will have a section for Abandonment.  This is just another term for cancellation which permits the traveller, once they have experienced the required number of hours travel delay, to cancel their flight and holiday in its entirety and claim back the costs.  Whether you choose this option will depend on many factors, such as the length of your trip away, how long the delay will be and personal preference but it is a very valuable addition to have in any travel insurance policy.  One word of warning, all travel insurance policies will have a clause that excludes any claim from being paid if the strike had been known about before the flight and holiday had been booked so it always prudent to check before you go firm on any travel plans.  With travel insurance now very competitively priced, particularly when purchased over the internet, who can really afford to travel without any cover at all?  It is probably a risk not worth taking when faced by a constant threat of more strikes, stoppages and delays.  This article is brought to you by travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

Cheap travel insurance – does it pay?

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

More and more of us are doing our shopping on the internet. We do so for the convenience but the main reason continues to be the innate desire to find the best deal. The success of sites such as e-bay is evidence of this. The travel insurance market is no different but you need to be ‘savvy’ in your search and the increasing number of price comparison sites can often be a hindrance rather than a help. Why is that? Well, simply these sites highlight the ‘headline grabbing’ figure, not to mention that many only show insurance providers that pay them a commission, so the consumer is often given a confusing and false picture. So can you find ‘cheap travel insurance’ on the internet? Most definitely yes, but you do need to check that what is being offered will provide you with the cover you need. When looking for cheap travel insurance, there are some simple rules to apply. Do your homework. Firstly, know what you want. Are you looking for a policy to cover you for just one trip or if you are going to travel more than once, then why not consider an annual multi-trip travel insurance policy instead? That could save you money over the year. Then read the policy schedule. Most internet sites are good at giving an instant quote – that is what they are designed to do but fewer provide easily accessible information to indicate what the policy covers. At the very least, you should look at the policy schedule. This is the table that shows the level of cover against various risks. Choose a policy that satisfies your needs. The areas that cost the most in a travel insurance policy tend to be cancellation, personal effects and medical cover. If you are booking long in advance, then cancellation cover is a must (normally around the £3000 figure is sufficient) as this safeguards you if you have to cancel because of, say, a close family illness or being called for jury service, to name but two examples. If however, you are taking a last minute holiday, then perhaps cancellation cover is not as necessary so you could reduce your premium considerably by choosing a policy with limited or no cancellation. Likewise, reducing your baggage cover can see your premiums nose dive. When it comes to medical cover, the FCO recommends a level of £2 million as being more than adequate, so perhaps you don’t need to buy the policy that offers £10 million. Next check the small print. Very few of us take the time to read the small print but the ‘devil is in the detail’ for sure. Ask yourself some key questions. Is where I want to travel covered by the policy, for example, is Egypt in Europe or Rest of the World as definitions do differ from company to company? Am I covered if caught up in a terrorist incident? Do I need to produce a police report if I have money or personal effects stolen? What about hazardous activities? Am I covered to bungee jump on my trip for instance? Make a list of simple questions relating to your trip and then check the policy. So is there such a thing as cheap travel insurance? Most definitely there is but the simple rule of thumb is that the cheaper the policy, the more restrictive it is likely to be. But you can help yourself by knowing what to look out for and wherever possible tailoring your insurance to your exact needs and that way make your travel insurance cheaper.  This article is brought to you by travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

Travel cover when disaster strikes

Monday, July 28th, 2008

Forest fires in Greece and terrorist attacks in Turkey and India in the last week are timely reminders that we can all unwittingly get caught up in incidents, natural or man made.  Whilst the FCO will be giving out important travel advice and, depending on the nature of the event may have teams in place to help in the aftermath, most of us will have to rely on tour operators and local representatives to look after us when on holiday. This is where a good travel insurance policy comes into play which, when it all starts to go wrong on holiday, you can fall back on to get you out of trouble. Returning to the forest fires on the holiday island of Rhodes in the Eastern Mediterranean, and this applies to any natural disaster in other regions of the world, most travel insurance policies will provide a level of specific cover that can be used to lessen the impact on the insured holiday maker.  This cover will range from paying for alternative accommodation should the existing accommodation become uninhabitable to cancelling your trip before you travel or curtailing the trip once away.  In particular, look  out for a policy which includes catastrophe cover.  Before making a claim, it would be normal for your travel

insurance provider to expect the tour operator to provide alternative accommodation free of any extra charges or offer a refund before making any settlement.  Cover should also extend, but do check the small print as policies do differ, to providing emergency medical cover and repatriation in the event that you or your travelling companions are injured or worse.  This is no different from suffering a road traffic accident but becomes more complex when incidents are caused as a result of civil commotion and unrest or, say, a terrorist attack as has just happened in India and Turkey and the FCO has assessed the threat from terrorist attacks as high in these countries.  Some policies provide cover for all eventualities but you will have to pay a hefty premium for this and you will have to weigh up the risks of it happening and whether you should really be there in the first place if looking for cover at this end of the travel insurance spectrum.  This article is brought to you by travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

More set to holiday at home this year

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

According to the latest Populus poll for the Times, three out of five of us say that we intend to cut back our summer holiday plans because of financial pressures.  58 per cent are changing their original holiday plans in the light of the rising cost of living, the weakness of the pound against the euro and the credit crunch in Britain.  Another trend is that 34 per cent say that they are switching plans from a holiday abroad to a holiday in Britain. Is this the year then for taking a break in the UK rather than travel abroad? Well certainly worthwhile considering but the same rules apply to holidays in the UK as they do elsewhere, do make sure you are properly covered in case of emergencies. Travel insurance, for example, is not always thought of as a necessity if you take a break in the UK, being so close to home and under the safety net of the NHS should you have an accident but travel insurance covers much more than medical emergencies. It is a fact that most people buy travel insurance for trips and holidays abroad but these policies do generally provide cover for travel within the UK, though do check the small print rather than assuming that this is always the case. So is travel insurance that covers holidays in the UK worth considering? It can be very useful to have insurance should you subsequently cancel a trip, say for illness, as your holiday costs will be reimbursed subject to any excesses to pay. Your personal effects 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. One final word of advice 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.

Journey’s end

Monday, July 21st, 2008

The final report has been received from the Land’s End to John o’ Groats cycle team who have posted the following: “After a fairly gruelling final 75 miles on Day 16 of our Land’ End to John o’ Groats, the team supported by two Travelandinsure directors crossed the finish line at 6.15pm on Sunday 20th July.  Not content with just the rain that has followed our progress right from the start, the elements decided to throw in a 30 mph headwind for good measure.  Departing from the tiny village of Altnahara, near Lairg, the route took us north along deserted minor roads to reach the Atlantic ocean at Bettyhill.  Then east along Scotland’s northernmost coastline through Thurso to John o’ Groats.  A journey of 960 miles since setting out on Saturday 5 July was never going to be a straight forward affair though we did not expect the weather to be so set against us but it as been worth all the effort. Some family members had travelled all the way to be there at the finish and to host an unexpected evening party which we all so appreciated.”  The team have now set off by minibus to return to Devon and for our staff members to return to Chichester.  What has been overwhelming is the way the general public have rallied to the cause.  Not only have people been really interested in the cycle feat itself but have been so generous in their support.  A mid way stop over in Carlisle for a quiet meal in Franco’s Ristorante resulted in a spontaneous donations to the Pokot Trust Project.  We could not ask for more.  This article is brought to you by travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

One day to go

Saturday, July 19th, 2008

The latest report from our cyclists has them at Lairg after two more days of cycling north from Fort William.  The route through the Highlands along the length of Loch Ness was spectacular despite the continuing drizzle – where has this summer gone?  But this could not dampen spirits as the cycle team followed the Caledonian Canal and along the banks of the longest loch in Scotland.  No sighting of Nessie but a brief stop at the Glengarry Castle Hotel for coffee showed how generous people can be with well wishes for the young team members and some unexpected donations.   This has been typical all along the ride but each time it happens, it still comes as delightful surprise and we are truly bowled over by it.  On to Evanton, near Dingwall, a distance of 75 miles for the overnight stop to be met by some of the families of the West Buckland students who have come up to spur on the team and be at John O’Groats at the end.  Then today, Saturday 19th, leaving Evanton in heavy showers and strong winds, the landscape began to change and start to become more remote as another 65 miles was completed to Altnahara, returning to Lairg to camp overnight.  And then there is tomorrow with the final push to the summit.  This article is brought to you by travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

Glencoe and beyond

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

The cycle team arrived at Fort William on 17th July. Setting a good pace after leaving Cumnock on Tuesday 15th, Glasgow was by-passed using recognised cycle routes and disused railway lines to cross the Clyde at Erskine Bridge and then on to Ardlui on Loch Lomond, a distance of 85 miles.  A change of plan saw the team completing this but then taking a well deserved rest day in Glasgow.  Back on the road today, and leaving Glasgow behind, Glencoe beckoned and this was reached by midday and then on to Fort William, another good ride of over 70 miles.  Glencoe was magnificent and the sight of two Golden eagles soaring above capped a glorious ride.  And how interesting the people are who you meet, such as Ewan McLeod, dressed in kilt at Glencoe who after, regaling us on the massacre, insisted in donating towards the Pokot Project. What a gent!. Three days to go with our arrival at John O’Groats still on time for Sunday.  This article is brought to you by travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

Land’s End to John O’Groats – Day 9 and 10

Monday, July 14th, 2008

What a difference a day makes or, put another way, when the sun shines out comes the smiles.  Sunday 13th July or Day 9 into the Lands End to John O’Groats ride was the best of the trip so far for outstanding scenery in Cumbria as we left Kirkby Lonsdale and passed through the historic towns of Sedburgh, Kirkby Stephen, Appleby-in-Westmorland and Brampton, the team covered 93 miles on a day difficult to better.  A brief stop at Pendragon Castle for the students from West Buckland School to scale the ruins was followed by a lavish picnic  on the pavement of Appleby. This was rounded off by a brief glimpse of Hadrian’s Wall as the team approached their overnight stop at Carlisle.  Drizzle on Monday 14th, Day 10, as the team set off again could not dampen spirits after the day before.  They crossed the border into Scotland by mid-morning, another major milestone and reached Sanquhar in Dumfries and Galloway, a distance of 65 miles.  Tomorrow’s task is to navigate through Glasgow to camp on the banks of Loch Lomond with a well earned rest day the following day.  We have been bowled over by all the heartfelt good wishes on our journey.  Too numerous to mention, we are enormously grateful for the comments of support received such as the one that reached us today – “Good luck and all best wishes to the kids (and accompanying adults!) on this great ride! We were at the camp site in Kirkby Lonsdale when these weary young adults rolled in, representing a fantastic cross section of teenagers today and presenting a face of which we as a group were very proud to see. You all deserve the credit which will surely come your way and the cause for which you are riding is fantastic. We will follow this ride until the end in just over a week’s time, and would like to say to all those who group the youth of today as one under achieving body, please look at these kids and be inspired. The best of life and luck to you all.”  This article is brought to you by travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

Scotland in sight for our cycle team

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

Day 9 and Scotland is in sight at last! The Land’s End to John O’Groats Cycle ride in support of the Pokot Rural Trust is approaching half way.  We have received another update from the team.  Since leaving Stroud on Day 6, the team headed north following the course of the River Severn completing 68  miles to Bridgnorth in Shropshire.  A detour to the night’s stopover at the Youth Hostel at Ratlinghope restored the morale of the team after what felt like continuous rain since leaving Land’s End on the 5th July.  The support minibus was beginning to resemble something akin to a mobile laundry and steam room.  Then onto Warrington for Day 7 which proved a fast day through the rolling landscape of Shropshire and then Cheshire.  Navigating through the industrial landscape and motorways proved tricky and finding the camp site flooded after a deluge of rain earlier in the week was less than desirable. Day 8 continued northwards through Blackburn and then into the beautiful Forest of Bowland and down into the idyllic Kirkby Lonsdale for for the overnight stopover. The team set of on Day 9 ready to cross Hadrian’s Wall and reach Gretna by the end of the day.  Crossing into Scotland will mark the point where we have less miles to go than have been covered. Onwards and upwards as they say.

Land’s End to John O’Groats update

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

We have been following with great interest the progress of the Land’s End to John O’Groats sponsored cycle ride which set off on Saturday 5th July.  Two directors from Traveandinsure are accompanying three staff and eight students, aged from 14 to 18 years, from West Buckland School, North Devon as they try to complete the 930 mile trip by 21st July.  The proceeds raised will be given to Pokot Rural Services, again based in North Devon, who are in the process of introducing high quality, disease resistant goats into the Pokot region of Kenya.  But what of their progress to date?  Well it has not been without some trials and tribulations according to the first report we have received.  Met with the full force of an Atlantic gale at the start at Land’s End, they set off completing the 60 miles to St Austell, their overnight stop, in very miserable conditions.  Undeterred, the second day was little better with atrocious weather as they traversed Dartmoor to stop at Moretonhampstead.  News of the trip reached the media and enroute to Bridgwater on Day Three, they we were met by a film crew from TV Southwest and a short piece about the group should be shown on that channel later this week.  Then in the early hours on 8th July, at the campsite at Bridgwater, two local youths on a destructive spree resulting in several cars broken into and a school vandalised, smashed the rear window of the cycle ride minibus and stole three of the group’s bikes.  As they were doing this, the group were threatened by one of the youths brandishing a crowbar before running off.  Police were called and the description given of one of the assailants resulted in two arrests and the bikes being recovered in the space of a couple of hours.  Well done to the local Bridgwater police force for such a rapid result.  Again a huge media interest gathered pace with the story mainlining on Orchard FM, Lantern FM and the 6pm Drive Time Show on local South West Radio.  If anything, this has strengthened the spirit within the group and, in high spirits, the cyclists have pressed on and reached Stroud.  With a rest day planned for 9th July, the group will set off for Ironbridge on the next leg northwards on 10th July.  This article is brought to you by Travelandinsure.com, specialist in Ethical Travel Insurance.