Posts tagged: Travel advice

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!/fcotravel

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Another day, another strike affecting UK holiday makers . . .

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By , September 22, 2011 8:51 am
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Public Transport Strike in Greece

It seems like barely a week passes before another strike is announced which could affect UK holiday makers. Qantas staff walked out over pay last week, and today Greece is being hit by another strike.

A 24 hour public transport strike is the latest protest against the Greek Government’s austerity measures.  Train, bus and taxi transport will all be affected and air traffic controllers will also walk out for several hours, causing disruption to flights.

Now I know I’ve said this before, and am going to sound repetitive, but this again highlights the importance of buying travel insurance as soon as you’ve booked your holiday.  

Most travel insurance does cover strike action under the delay and abandonment sections of the policy, but only if your holiday was booked and your travel insurance policy was purchased before the strike was announced.

Once a strike is announced you are very unlikely to be able get travel insurance travel insurance that would cover you if your holiday was affected.

So, the really important thing is to buy travel insurance cover as soon as you’ve booked your holiday.

For more information about how travel insurance covers strike action read my post about the recent general strike in Italy.

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Travel Insurance Tip No 2: Are you eligable for cover?

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By , September 21, 2011 3:04 pm
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2. Check that you are eligible for travel insurance cover and buy the policy before you leave the UK.

Tip number 2 of our top ten travel insurance tips is to check that you are eligible for the travel insurance cover you want to buy and to make sure you buy your travel insurance policy before you leave the UK.

When you buy travel insurance, online or by phone, you will usually be presented with a list of requirements to ascertain whether you are eligible to be covered under that policy.

You must read these requirements carefully and be honest, because if you are not eligible for cover and you go ahead and purchase the travel insurance anyway, your policy will not be valid and you will not be covered if you need to make a claim.

Most travel insurance policies sold by insurance providers in the UK, require you to be a UK resident in order to be covered. Definitions of a UK resident may vary from policy to policy, but a common requirement is that you have been living in the UK for 6 months or more at the time of purchase. They will probably also require you to have been registered with a general practitioner or GP for 6 months.

Other requirements are likely to include:

– You need to be in the UK when you buy the travel insurance policy.
– The trip must start and finish in the UK and the policy must cover the entire duration of your holiday.

This means it’s vital that you remember to buy your travel insurance before you depart on your trip. Once you have the left the UK it is too late and you won’t be able to get travel insurance cover.

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FCO highlights importance of travel insurance

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By , September 1, 2011 10:02 am
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Every year the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) publishes a report entitled ‘British Behaviour Abroad’. The report details the numbers of UK citizens that the FCO have provided help and assistance to over the course of the year, it also highlights the importance of travel insurance.

Did you know that you are statistically most likely to need consular assistance in Thailand? And if you do require assistance the chances are you will also incur unexpected expenses such as medical fees or the cost of replacing a passport – that’s where travel insurance comes in.

See our illustration ‘Brits Abroad’ which combines figures from the FCO report with information on lost luggage and flight delays to illustrate the why travel insurance matters.

Travel insurance, hospitalisation and medical expenses

3689 Brits were hospitalised abroad in the year from April 2009 to March 2010. The highest number of hospitalisations occurred in Spain, however in proportion to the number of visitors, Brits were statistically most likely to be hospitalised in Thailand.

Although the FCO can provide assistance, such as contacting family or visiting you in hospital, if you require hospitalisation or medical treatment abroad, they won’t cover the cost. This why it’s important to have travel insurance comes.

The case of a British National who fell off the back of a motorbike in Thailand illustrates the importance of taking out travel insurance every time you travel. The man seriously injured his knee, and despite taking the prescribed medication it became severely infected and he required intravenous antibiotics. Fortunately he was insured and his travel insurance covered the full cost of his treatment which came to about £10,000. Without travel insurance, the man would have had to foot the bill himself. In comparison to a few pounds on a travel insurance policy, this is huge expense that most people simply could not afford.

An example without such a satisfactory ending is that of a 19 year old man who was on a working holiday in Australia. During a party he fell from a 3rd floor apartment and landed on a concrete pavement below. His injuries were severe and he remained in intensive care for several weeks. Fortunately his emergency hospital treatment was covered under the reciprocal healthcare arrangements between the UK and Australia. But he had let his travel insurance expire, so his parents had to cover the high cost of bringing him back to the UK.

Got an EHIC? You still need travel insurance

You may think if you are travelling to Europe you can make do with a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) instead of travel insurance, but that is not the case. The FCO highlights the case of a British man who spent 5 weeks in hospital in Spain after a serious motorcycle accident. He was repatriated back to the UK by his travel insurance company. If he did not have travel insurance this could have been a very different story and the man could have been stuck in a Spanish hospital for much longer.

Although an EHIC entitles you to reduced cost or free emergency care within the European Economic Area and Switzerland, it is not a replacement for travel insurance, because as illustrated above, it does not provide cover for repatriation back to the UK.

Get travel insurance cover for activities

A man was on a skiing holiday when he had a bad fall, breaking his collar bone. He ended up with a €4500 bill for mountain rescue, transport and medical costs because he didn’t have adequate travel insurance cover.

The lesson to learn here is, always check that your travel insurance will cover you for the sports and activities that you intend to take part in whilst you’re away.

Lost and stolen passports are covered by travel insurance

In the year, April 2009 to March 2010, the FCO dealt with over 27,000 cases of lost or stolen passports. In proportion to the number of visits, UK travellers are statistically most likely to have their passport lost or stolen in New Zealand. One reason for this is that a driving licence is not accepted as a valid form of id in bars and pubs, therefore Brits carry their passports with them to prove their age.

Although the FCO can issue a replacement passport, they don’t do it free of charge and I’m guessing that a replacement passport was not what you planned to spend your hard earned holiday cash on. Travel insurance can cover the cost of a replacement passport in the event that yours is lost or stolen whilst you are away.

Lost and delayed baggage – check your travel insurance

According to the Association of European Airlines, you have a 1 in 77 chance of losing your bag when you fly with a European Airline. From November 2008 to March 2009 European Airlines lost 1,583,068 bags. Although 85% of mishandled luggage is reunited with its owner within a day or 2, it is still highly inconvenient if you arrive in your holiday destination without a change of clothes.

Travel insurance can provide a benefit to cover necessary expenses such as toiletries and clothes if you reach your resort before your bag does.

And, in the unfortunate event that you never become reunited with your bag, your travel insurance can provide cover which will help you replace your lost possessions.

Flight delays and travel insurance

In 2010, the average flight delay from a UK Airport was 16.85 minutes, with just under 1% of flights delayed by more than 3 hours. 1% may not seem like many flights but that equated to 12,374 flights in 2010. (Figures from the CAA, analysed by

If your flight is delayed, your travel insurance can provide a benefit to help cover additional expenses, such as food and drink whilst you wait at the airport. Many travel insurance policies also give you the option to abandon your holiday and claim back the cost after a delay of 12 or 24 hours. Check your travel insurance policy for details.

The FCO and travel insurance

Wherever you go on holiday, and whatever you’re doing, from visiting friends to taking part in adventurous activities it is important to have adequate travel insurance for your trip. The FCO are available to offer you assistance when things go wrong abroad, but they don’t pick up the cost – that’s where your travel insurance comes in.

Visit the FCO website for the latest information on a country before you travel and be aware that your travel insurance may not cover you if you travel against FCO advice.

This article is intended to provide a general guide to the importance of travel insurance. You should refer to the terms and conditions of your policy for detailed information on cover and benefits.

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