Croatian Airline Strike today: Travel insurance for strikes

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By , March 8, 2012 2:55 pm
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Croatian Airline staff are on strike today and tomorrow (8-9th March 2012).

The strike is due to affect daily operations and the airline has stated that they will only be able to operate a limited timetable on the days when the strike is taking place.

Croatian Airlines have introduced a special timetable to show which flights are operating during the strike action. Visit Croatian Airlines website for more information.

Passengers due to travel on one of the flights cancelled due to the strike will be entitled to reschedule to a different flight or obtain a full refund.

Travel insurance cover for strikes and industrial action

Generally speaking, as long as you have booked your holiday or flight and bought your travel insurance before strike dates are announced you will be covered under the travel delay section of your travel insurance, if your flight or holiday is affected by industrial action. So it’s important to buy travel insurance as soon as you book your holiday, you never know when a strike could be announced.

The travel delay section of your travel insurance policy will usually allow you to claim a fixed benefit for every 12 hours you are delayed, or if you have a long delay eg. Over 12 or 24 hours, you will usually have the option to abandon your holiday and make a claim for the cost. You should check your travel insurance policy wording to see the full terms and conditions.

EU Law and your rights

Depending on the circumstances, European law requires airlines to provide assistance to passengers during delays. This includes catering, communications and overnight accommodation if necessary. If a delay extends beyond five hours, passengers can request a refund if they choose not to travel. If a flight is cancelled alternative flight options should be offered. Where these are unacceptable a full ticket refund should be provided, and in some instances compensation.

For more information visit The CAA website

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Financial protection for air holidays is to be extended: Is there still a need for travel insurance with insolvency cover?

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By , February 16, 2012 11:42 am
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Article Summary: We’re discussing what the ATOL reforms mean in practice for UK holiday makers and whether there is still any need to buy travel insurance with insolvency cover.

The Government is reforming the ATOL (Air Travel Operators License) Protection Scheme with effect from April this year. This is great news for travellers as it will mean more holidays are financially protected and it makes the whole system clearer and easier to understand.

The level of financial protection you have for your holiday if a supplier becomes insolvent depends largely on how you booked it, which in turn means that how you booked your holiday will also have an impact on what level of travel insurance cover you should buy. Travel insurance cover for insolvency can be called a number of different things, from something simple like ‘Insolvency Cover’ to ‘Scheduled Airline Failure’, which isn’t usually limited to the insolvency of airlines as the name suggests, or Dynamic Packaging Cover which probably means very little to anyone outside of the insurance or travel industry.

Quick check diagram - do you need insolvency cover with your travel insurance? This diagram reflects the current situation and will be updated once the reforms come into effect

Read our previous post for more information about the current financial protection available for your holiday and how that effects the travel insurance need.
Note:This will change from April 30 2012.

ATOL Protection extended to cover Flight Plus Holidays from April 30

From April 30, the Government is extending the ATOL Protection Scheme to include what is sometimes known as a Flight Plus holiday or Dynamic Packaging.

This means that from April 30, if you book a flight plus accommodation, or a flight plus car hire abroad from a high street or online retailer, your booking will be ATOL Protected.

Under the current ATOL regulations holidays that included a flight and hotel that were chosen and priced separately, even if they were booked through a single company, were not covered. Under the new rules which come in to effect in April this type of holiday will get the same kind of protection as a traditional package holiday. Great news for holiday makers.

The financial protection that the license brings will add a £2.50 per person ATOL Protection Contribution (APC) to the cost of your booking. And from October you should receive a certificate to confirm that your booking is ATOL Protected. (The travel industry has been given until October to start issuing certificates because of the amount of work involved in updating their systems to be able to do this).

Aviation Minister Theresa Villiers said

“It is essential the scheme should apply in an effective way in the modern holiday market; so that consumers are clear about their rights and how to use them, and holiday companies know which of their products must be protected.

“In addition the Air Travel Trust Fund needs to return to a financially self-sustaining basis as soon as possible so that taxpayers’ money is no longer exposed to risk. We expect these reforms should allow the ATOL scheme’s financial deficit to be repaid within three years. This will pave the way for possible future changes to improve how the scheme is funded and managed.”

Holidays and Flights Sold by Airlines will still be Excluded from ATOL

There is one important omission from the new regulations, and that is that holidays and flights sold by airlines. You won’t get the same level of protection if you book a flight and hotel ‘package’ direct through an airline, such as Easyjet or British Airways, as you would choosing the same flights and hotel via a third party such as Lastminute.com or a high street travel agent.

The extending of the ATOL Protection Scheme to Flight Plus and Dynamic Packaging holidays is a significant step forward in bringing ATOL up to date and in line with our changing ways of booking holidays. However extending it further to include holidays sold by airlines is essential if UK holiday makers are to get clear and fair financial protection for their holidays.

Although the Government has stated that it is committed to extending ATOL Licensing to include holidays sold by airlines, it would require a change in the law so is not included in the latest set of reforms.

Is There Still a Need for Travel Insurance with Insolvency Cover?

So the question is, with the extension of the ATOL Scheme coming in to force in April, will there still be a need for Travel Insurance with Insolvency Cover?

The simple answer to that is yes, definitely.
Travel insurance with insolvency cover will still be able to plug a gap in the financial protection provided by the ATOL Scheme.

For instance, holidays or flights sold by an airline will still be excluded from the ATOL scheme, so if you book a flight and hotel from an airline rather than from a high street or online retailer your holiday would not be financially protected.

Also if you were to book flights and accommodation separately through 2 completely separate companies, for example booking your flights with Expedia and your hotel through Lastminute.com, your holiday would not be protected under the new ATOL rules because you have not booked the flight and accommodation together.

In these instances your holiday would not be ATOL Protected and travel insurance with cover for insolvency can provide the financial protection against the loss of money you have invested in your holiday.

In short the Government’s reforms will extend the ATOL Scheme to protect more holidays than it did before, however it still only provides protection for if you book your flights and accommodation or flights and car hire from the same campany, and it still excludes flights or holidays sold by an airline completely. This means there are still many instances where travel insurance with insolvency cover is a good option to provide cover against the risk of your airline or holiday supplier becoming insolvent.

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FCO advise against all but essential travel to Maldives capital

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By , February 9, 2012 5:12 pm
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The Foreign and Commonwealth Office have advised British Nationals against all but essential travel to the Island of Male in the Maldives. The latest advice from the FCO follows political unrest, demonstrations and the resignation of the president earlier in the week.

Maldives from the air 3

If you travel to the Male Island against FCO advice your travel insurance may not be valid.

The FCO have advised British Nationals who are in Male already to avoid demonstrations and beware of spontaneous gatherings. Those staying on other islands in the Maldives, or about to visit the Maldives should avoid travelling to Male altogether.

Holiday makers should be aware that if they choose to travel Male against the advice of the FCO that their travel insurance is unlikely to be valid. Most travel insurance policies have a clause in the terms and conditions which states that they will not provide cover in the event that you are travelling against the advice of the FCO.

Read our earlier post for more information about how FCO travel advice affects travel insurance cover.

There are currently no reported incidents or unrest in the tourist resorts on the other islands in the Maldives and the FCO have specifically pointed out that their advice against travel does not include Male International Airport (which is actually on a different island) or travel to and from the airport to any part of the country other than Male Island.

If you are travelling to the Maldives soon your travel insurance should be valid, so long as you don’t travel to any of the areas which the FCO advise against. This is currently just the island of Male.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office update their travel advice regularly based on what is happening on the ground, so if you are travelling to the Maldives soon you should keep up to date with the latest advice on their website.

You should also contact your tour operator for further information.

If you are worried about whether your travel insurance will provide cover for your trip contact your travel insurance provider who will be able to confirm whether you travel insurance is affected.

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Check the latest advice from the FCO: It can impact your travel insurance cover

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By , January 27, 2012 11:29 am
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Summary: The travel advice published by the FCO can have an impact on your travel insurance cover. Travelling against FCO advice can make your travel insurance void: find out why.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides a wealth of useful information to help you stay safe abroad. This includes information on local laws and customs, dangerous areas that you should avoid, and any upcoming strikes or industrial action that could impact your travel plans.

You should check the latest information for the country you are visiting, before you travel or even before you plan your trip.

How does the FCO travel advice impact your travel insurance cover?

The FCO publishes travel advice by country which is updated daily. They have a page of in-depth information about every country in the world, if there are any travel alerts that you need to be aware of they will be highlighted at the top of these pages.

This information is important to your travel insurance cover, because if the FCO is advising against travel to a country or a particular area of a country, your travel insurance will not provide cover if you travel to those areas. Most travel insurance policies have an exclusion in the terms and conditions which states that they will not provide travel insurance cover if you are travelling against Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice.

It is likely to still be possible to buy flights to areas that are considered unsafe, so it is up to you to check the latest travel advice to see whether it is safe to go there and whether your travel insurance will be valid.

For example, British Airways have recently announced that they are to restart flights to Tripoli, the Libyan capital from the beginning of May.  (Flights were stopped last year when tensions in Libya escalated).

This may be an extreme example, as not many people are going to be planning a holiday to Libya, however it does illustrate the point. Although you can easily book a flight from London to Libya, the FCO are advising against all but essential travel to some areas of the country, and against all travel to other areas.  If you do choose to visit Libya against FCO advice, a standard travel insurance policy will not cover you.

Even if you are going to a popular holiday destination, you should still check the latest FCO travel advice before you depart, as the recent events in Kenya and the revolution in Egypt last year highlight. Both destinations are popular with UK holidaymakers and although the FCO didn’t advise against all travel, they did and do advise against travel to specific regions, so if you are travelling to these countries you should be aware of which areas should be avoided.

Is it fair that travel insurance doesn’t provide cover if you are travelling against FCO advice?

In a word, I would say yes. As we’ve discussed in various posts before, travel insurance, as all insurance, is designed to cover unexpected and unforeseen risk.  Travelling to a country or area of a country that the FCO considers dangerous for British Nationals is a much higher risk than travelling somewhere that is considered safe.

Information on strikes and Industrial action

The FCO also publishes the latest information on strikes and industrial action which could have an impact on your trip.  This is type of information is definitely worth knowing, because even if you can’t change your dates of travel, it pays to be aware of any upcoming strikes so you make plans accordingly, such as allowing more time for journey’s on public transport.

For more information about travel insurance cover for strikes and industrial action read our post.

Delays due to strikes: Travel insurance cover & your rights

Where to find travel advice from the FCO

http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/

https://twitter.com/#!/fcotravel

http://www.facebook.com/fcotravel

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Travel Insurance Tip No. 9 – Check you have cover for sports and activities

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By , January 19, 2012 1:32 pm
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Tip number 9 in our top 10 travel insurance tips is: Make sure that your travel insurance provides cover for any sports and activities you will be taking part in.

Before you buy your travel insurance policy, have a think about what you’re going to be doing on holiday. Are you going to be taking part in any sports or activities?

Skiing and other winter sports are the obvious ones, so if you are going on a beach holiday you may think that you don’t need to worry about it. But what about if you decided to have a go on a jet ski whilst you are there, or go on a quad biking excursion? These types of activities might not be covered on a standard travel insurance policy, so before you take part you should check.

Travel insurance generally covers a number of sports and activities as standard, but it does vary between different travel insurance policies, so it’s always worth checking.  You may find that your chosen activity is covered by your travel insurance as standard, or you may need to add extra cover to your policy.

Most travel insurers will allow you to upgrade your cover to include more adventurous or hazardous activities. As I said before, winter sports is the obvious one, but
there are many popular holiday activities which may require additional cover such as bungee jumping, quad biking or scuba diving below a certain depth.

Don’t take any chances; check that you are covered before taking part in any hazardous
activities – if you’re not covered you could face large medical bills in the event of an accident.

Many travel insurance companies will allow you to add extra cover for sports or activities after you have bought your travel insurance policy, sometimes even if you have already departed on your holiday – so it’s never too late to check your travel insurance cover.

It’s easy to get the right travel insurance cover if you take a few minutes to think about the sort of activities you’re going to take part in before you buy your travel
insurance.

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Travel Insurance Tip No. 8 – If you’re travelling to Europe, get an EHIC

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By , January 19, 2012 1:00 pm
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Tip number 8 in our top 10 travel insurance tips is: If you are travelling to Europe, get an EHIC, it could save you money!

The European Health Insurance Card or EHIC entitles you to low cost (and sometimes free) state provided healthcare in the European Economic Area countries and Switzerland.  You should remember that the level of state provided health card in other European countries is not necessarily comparative to the service provided by the NHS.

An EHIC shouldn’t be used instead of a comprehensive travel insurance policy, because it won’t cover all medical costs abroad and it doesn’t cover repatriation back to the UK, which could result in you being stuck on a foreign hospital for a long period of time if you do fall ill whilst you are away.

Despite the fact that an EHIC doesn’t take away the need to buy travel insurance every time you travel, there are still some good reasons for getting one if you are travelling to a country within the European Economic Area or Switzerland.

One good reason to get an EHIC is that it could save you money!

Many travel insurance providers will forego the excess payment on a medical travel insurance claim if you have used your EHIC card when you received treatment. This could save you money – depending on the terms of your travel insurance policy it could save you up to a few hundred pounds.

Remember, having an EHIC could save you money in the event that you need to make a claim on your travel insurance, but it doesn’t replace travel insurance.

There are many more things that travel insurance covers, which an EHIC won’t – not least a 24 hour English speaking emergency helpline to provide much needed support if you do find yourself needing medical treatment abroad. Travel insurance also provides cover for cancellation, your personal possessions and travel delay.

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Mt Etna eruption sparks volcanic ash cloud fears

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By , January 6, 2012 4:56 pm
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Mount Etna, one of Europe’s most active volcanoes, started erupting on Wednesday night, sending volcanic ash and lava high in to the sky.

Mount Etna erupts fairly regularly, usually for several days and sometimes causing the closure of the nearby Catania airport in Sicily.

Currently flights are not being affected by this volcanic eruption.

For the latest information on air travel within Europe follow @eurocontrol on twitter.

Read our related posts to see how travel insurance can cover volcanic ash and your rights with your airline.

Travel insurance and Volcanic Ash

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Flight delays, high winds, your rights and travel insurance

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By , January 5, 2012 10:29 am
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Post summary: Under EU law you have certain rights if your flight is delayed due to bad weather. Your travel insurance can also help when your flight is delayed.

Strong winds are causing disruption again at ports and airports across the UK for the second time this week and the third time in less than a month.

As we are in the midst of winter, it’s hardly surprising that we are getting bad weather, last winter it was freezing conditions and heavy snow, this year its high winds that are causing disruption to flights and other forms of travel.

What are your rights if your flight is delayed due to bad weather?

If you’re flight is delayed or cancelled due to bad weather, under EU regulations, your airline has a duty to look after you, by providing refreshments and accommodation where necessary, depending on the length of the delay. For more information about EU regulations on flight delays and cancellations visit: UK European Consumer Centre

How can travel insurance help for flight delay?

Most travel insurance policies have cover for Travel Delay which will pay you a benefit if your outbound flight from the UK or your return flight into the UK is delayed due to
bad weather, such as the high winds we have seen over the last few days.

Usually, if your flight is delayed by more than 12 or 24 hours, check your travel insurance policy wording for details, you will be entitled to claim a fixed benefit. This
travel delay benefit is designed to help you cover the cost of extra, unexpected expenses, such as food and drink, whilst you are waiting at the airport.

If your outbound flight is delayed by more than 24 hours, you may also have the option under your travel insurance policy to ‘abandon’ your holiday and make a claim for the cost of the holiday, up to the limit stated in the Cancellation section of your travel insurance policy.

For your travel insurance claim to be successful you will generally need to have checked in for your flight at the airport, this shows that you fully intended to travel, and you
must obtain a letter from your airline which confirms the length of the delay and the reason for it.

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Flight delays: Punctuality of flights from UK airports improve year on year

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By , December 23, 2011 12:42 pm
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Summary: Great news for passengers, flight delays are decreasing, but if you do experience a delay, what are your rights and how can travel insurance help.

Flight delays from UK airports reduced across the peak summer period this year, latest figures from the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) show that flight punctuality has improved year on year.

From July to September 2011, 79% of scheduled flights were on-time, compared to 72% for the same period on 2010. The most significant improvements were seen on scheduled flights from Stansted, Gatwick and Luton.

Punctuality on charter flights improved across the board, 73% of charter flights were on-time compared to just 62% for the same period of 2010. On-time is defined as arriving or departing early or up to 15 minutes late.

This increase in flight punctuality is great news for travellers; let’s hope it continues to improve in to the 2012.

These figures from the CAA show that the majority of flights leave on time, or with a small delay, which is great news, but what if you do experience a long flight delay, where do you go for help?

Under EU regulations, if you experience a long flight delay, your airline has a duty to look after you by providing refreshments and accommodation if necessary. If the delay is more than 5 hours and you decide not to continue your journey you are entitled to a refund of your ticket cost.

For more information about your rights as an air passenger visit:

http://ec.europa.eu/transport/passenger-rights/en/index.html

Travel insurance and flight delays

Cover for flight delay is generally included under the Travel Delay and Abandonment Section of a travel insurance policy.

This section of your travel insurance provides a benefit if your outbound or inbound international journey is delayed, due to various reasons such as strikes and industrial action, adverse weather and mechanical breakdown. The causes of delay that you are covered for may vary from policy to policy check read the terms and conditions to find out what you have cover for.

Travel delay cover provides a fixed benefit, designed to cover the cost of additional expenses such as food and drink whilst you wait at the airport, it can be anything from £10 to £50, for every 12 or 24 hours that you are delayed.

If you are delayed by more than 24 hours most travel insurance policies also give you the option to abandon your holiday and make a claim for any unrecoverable costs up to the amount specified in the Cancellation section of the policy.

Check the terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy for more details – You usually have to have checked in for your flight in order to make a claim, and you will need to get a letter from your airline confirming the delay.

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Travel Insurance Tip No. 7 – Tailor your travel insurance for your budget and holiday

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By , December 14, 2011 2:44 pm
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Tip number 7 in our top 10 travel insurance tips is: Tailor your travel insurance policy to suit your budget and your holiday.

The days of simply buying whichever travel insurance is offered to you when you book your holiday are long gone. Today it’s easy to shop around and tailor your travel insurance policy to get the right cover for your holiday, either by adding additional travel insurance cover, or making sure that you’re not paying for travel insurance cover that you don’t need.

Let’s take cancellation cover as a starting point; if your luxury trip to the Maldives cost £5000 per person, you need to make sure that the cancellation cover amount in your travel insurance reflects that. On the same note, if you’re staying in youth hostels or camping, the amount of cancellation of cover which your travel insurance includes won’t be so important, so you could choose a travel insurance policy with a lower level of cancellation cover. Alternatively, if you travelling imminently you could choose to exclude cancellation cover altogether and reduce the cost of your travel insurance policy.

You could also choose to exclude baggage and personal money cover if you already have your personal possessions covered away from home as part of your home contents insurance.

You should also look at the ways you improve your travel insurance cover.
Check out what additional policy options are available to add to your travel insurance such as Scheduled Airline Failure, which is designed to provide cover in the event that your airline or other holiday supplier becomes insolvent, either before you go away or while you are in resort.

This type of insolvency cover is particularly important if you book elements of your holiday independently, rather than booking a package holiday with a bonded tour operator.

Another popular add-on is Natural Catastrophe cover, which provides additional travel insurance cover for cancellation and additional incurred expenses as a result of natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods or the volcanic ash crisis in 2010.

Sports and hazardous activities, if you are planning on taking part in any sports or hazardous activities whilst you are on holiday, make sure that your travel insurance provides cover in the event that you have an accident and need medical treatment. Most travel insurance policies provide cover for a range of activities as standard, plus give the option to upgrade your travel insurance policy to include cover for more dangerous pursuits.

Travel insurance is available for sale all over the place, from travel agents, supermarkets, price comparison sites and direct from travel insurance providers, so there is no excuse for travelling with it.

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