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Archive for October, 2009

Threat of Christmas strike by BA Staff

Friday, October 30th, 2009

Holidaymakers could be facing travel disruption this Christmas after unions representing British Airway’s 14,000 cabin crew announced they would ballot staff on strike action. If cabin crew do vote to take action, the first strikes are likely to be in early December and a series of rolling strikes could ground planes and cripple the airline in the run-up to the busy Christmas travel period. The airline lost £401 million last year and BA’s management wants to reduce its cabin crew budget by about £140 million a year. If a strike does go ahead, then the main effect would almost certainly come in the second half of December, precisely the time when many consumers chose to fly abroad to visit families for the Christmas holidays. So cancellations and delays are expected.

For those flying from UK airports and who suffer delays or are stranded, then it’s useful to know what rights you have. Under the European directive of Air Passenger Rights, all EU operators have a duty of care to passengers and should be responding to claims for delay by providing at least food and drink vouchers for those caught up in the delays at the airports.   If you are stopped from boarding, you may be entitled to compensation between €125 and €600 depending on flight distance and the delays incurred when re-routed.  For long delays, you may request a refund of your ticket if the delay exceeds five hours, but only if you decide not to travel.

The only snag is that, as with so much EU legislation, what is given in one hand is often taken away in the other. Under these rules the airline can claim protection for delays relating to, yes that’s right “strikes” amongst others. The protection the airlines have is bad news for passengers as losses from Weather, Air Traffic Problems, Security & Safety, Political Unrest, and Strikes are reasons why an airline will not pay out compensation to travellers.

So what about travel insurance? Under the delay section of a policy, most insurers will give some benefit for periods of delay faced at the airport. Do check your individual travel insurance documents as some of the cheaper basic policies do exclude this protection.

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

Ski resorts opening

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

The 2009-10 ski and snowboard season is already under way. Glacier resorts in the Alps began opening in September and have been boosted by huge snowfalls in recent weeks. They’ve been joined by half a dozen US resorts which are all promising signs for the ski season to come. Despite the financial gloom, tour operators are cautiously optimistic for a good season ahead, arguing that it’s always the snow not the economic situation that determines whether a season is a financial success or not.

But there is no doubt that the weaknesss of the pound against the euro and US dollar will deter some skiers and that’s why after two good snow years, the strong euro is making Scottish snow look ever more appealing and the Scottish mountains saw their first healthy snowfall since last winter at the beginning of october of the month, possibly heralding an early start to the season there. With lift passes expected to be half the equivalent in the Alps this year, perhaps this is the winter to ski in Scotland?

However, for those deciding to winter holiday at home, it’s worth remembering that the same rules though apply to holidays in the UK as they do elsewhere. So 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. 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.

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 abroad – these things happen at home too. What you will almost certainly not be covered for will be for medical expenses as the NHS is available for such instances.

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, or a campsite booking in the case of camping and caravanning, for a minimum stay of normally 2 nights away for the policy to be in force so the one night weekend trip away is definitely outside this definition.

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

On the piste or off it – get the right travel insurance cover

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

The leaves may still be on the trees (just) but the first snow has fallen in the Alps. Yes, the start of the new ski season is just around the corner and after the record early snow last year, we all hope that this season will be another to remember. But will it be for the right reasons?

Each year thousands take to the slopes for the first time but some unfortunately will return with an injury. And it’s not just first timers as the more experienced take on new challenges, on and off piste, the wipe out’s just tend to be more spectacular! That is why it is essential to have the proper ski and snowboard travel insurance to provide the necessary cover on and off the slopes.

So what should people be looking for? Most travel insurance providers offer good cover for intermediate and beginners. This is the vast bulk of the market. Yes, accidents do happen but they are more likely to be in a controlled fashion, by that we mean on well groomed pistes and with assistance and help on hand. The problem area is when the skier or snowboarder gains in confidence and skill and wants to seek greater challenges and with it more thrills. This generally means tackling ever more severe slopes but also to venture into what is loosely termed ‘off piste’. This is where the unwary can very quickly become unstuck and we are not talking about the snow conditions.

Most travel insurance policies will have restrictions on ‘off piste’ such as ‘only with a guide’ or ‘only within a specified resort area’ so when seeking that ‘adrenaline rush’ it is important to know what you are getting yourself into first. What’s more, the increasing popularity of ‘half pipes’ and ‘free style’ means that the potential risk of injury has increased as more and more people are attracted to this immensely enjoyable leisure activity. To make sure you are properly covered for these more extreme sports activities, it is essential that winter sports insurance is obtained that offers protection to this level of activity.

The more expert you are, the more likely you will need more specialist cover than provided by the usual high street provider. Mountain rescue and medical costs are expensive and if this requires repatriation then the costs mount up rapidly. It’s probably too late, as you are being strapped to the rescue sledge, to wonder whether the travel insurance you bought before the holiday is going to cover you. Know before you go.

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

Inclusive packages in vogue for winter season

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

This year’s big skiing trend is the rise of all-inclusive packages, which include lift passes, ski and boot hire and half-board accommodation. The idea in tough economic times is to tell people up front exactly how much a trip will cost rather than them face unexpected or hidden extra charges and that ski companies have been forced to offer cheaper breaks to create good value.

For those tempted for a pre-Christmas dash to the slopes, don’t forget to take out adequate insurance. Recent surveys still show a high number of people going abroad without any travel insurance at all. Whether this is just forgetfulness or a desire to live dangerously, it shows that many people view travel insurance as an extra expense which can be added or deleted depending on the holiday budget. But with price of travel insurance premiums, particularly on the internet, being relatively cheap – you can find a week’s Winter Sports cover to Europe for under £10, it does seem to be an unnecessary risk to take.

It is not necessary to pay through the nose these days and if you are prepared to surf the net then there some excellent deals to be had. This article is brought to you by Travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

Cancellation cover is a must!

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

It nearly always pays to get cancellation cover for your holiday trip abroad. All travel insurance policies offer this, though you may find that cover is limited, the cheaper the policy. This is one reason why some travel insurers offer a series of policies. Gold, Silver and Bronze for example is a popular method to differentiate policies as is Premier, Standard and Economy. Cancellation cover will be offered at various rates with £3,000 being a common average figure.

But do look at your personal circumstances and make sure that the cancellation cover you take out is adequate for the trip you plan to take. If you are going on a cruise, then it is quite possible that you will require a higher level of cancellation cover than, say, for a package holiday to the Mediterranean. If you are booking a late minute deal, then perhaps you don’t need more than the minimum, if any, level of cancellation cover. The rule here is to buy the policy that covers your requirements and not just accept the ‘standard’ policy on offer.

What is surprising is that latest research still shows that nearly half of travellers (47%) wait until the last week to buy their travel insurance. What people, perhaps, don’t realise is that cancellation cover only comes into force when you take out insurance and, if this left until the last minute, then you will not have the protection which you would have had if you had taken out travel insurance at the same time that you booked your holiday, which could be several months before the actual trip. That way, cover would be provided for a range of events, such as unexpected serious illness to the policy holder, travelling companion and quite often, illness or worse of a close relative which results in you having to cancel your trip.

Whilst on the subject of cancellation, do check that the same level of cover extends to curtailing or cutting short your trip and also look out for holiday abandonment, which is closely linked to cancellation, for when, after a set period of delay at your departure airport or seaport, your policy offers you the option of not continuing your trip and being reimbursed for your costs up to a specified limit. So the best advice is that travel insurance should not be relegated to a ‘necessary evil’ purchased just before your travel but should be considered as a fundamental pre-requisite to protect your holiday investment.

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