Posts tagged: travel insurance

48% of Brits not aware that without travel insurance they risk large medical bills

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By , July 20, 2012 10:08 am
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New figures from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) highlight common misconceptions over who will foots the bill for medical treatment abroad.

A survey of 2000 British holidaymakers, conducted on behalf of the FCO, showed that almost half (48%) did not realise that without travel insurance they would be liable to pay for their own medical bills if they were injured or taken ill abroad.

Plus, when asked about their ability to cover medical costs for a loved one who had travelled without insurance, 78% of people admitted that they would not have the money to hand to cover a £10,000 hospital bill.

A medical emergency abroad can be extremely expensive and if you don’t have valid travel insurance in place, medical bills can quickly mount up to thousands of pounds.

Foreign Office staff witness a number of distressing cases every year involving families having to raise vast sums of money to pay hospital and repatriation bills for their loved ones who did not have travel insurance to cover cost of their medical treatment abroad.

Increase in hospitalisations abroad – 1o Brits hospitalised abroad every day

The FCO has also just released the latest of their annual British Behaviour Abroad which provides figures on the numbers of British nationals they have provided assistance to over the course of the year.

This year’s report has highlighted a significant rise in the number of hospitalisations of British travellers in popular holiday hotspots including Spain, Greece and Egypt. During the year from 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2012 approximately 70 British travellers per week were hospitalised abroad – that’s 10 people every day!

Without travel insurance you could be left with a large medical bill

The FCO are hoping that by highlighting this information they can increase awareness amongst the British travelling public about the importance of having comprehensive travel insurance every time they travel abroad.

British nationals who have travelled without travel insurance or have invalidated their travel insurance by not declaring a pre-existing medical condition, or taking part in a sport or activity which was not covered by their policy, will find themselves or their families facing large medical bills if they are hospitalised abroad.

Foreign Office staff are there to offer assistance if you become ill or have an accident, but they do not cover the cost of medical treatment. If you don’t have travel insurance or are not properly covered by your travel insurance you or your family will have to cover the cost of medical treatment.

Jeremy Browne, the Minister for Consular Services said:

“ Whilst the prospect of ending up in a foreign hospital may be the last thing on your mind as you head overseas for a summer break, sometimes things do go wrong on holiday and many people deeply regret not taking out comprehensive travel insurance.

We witness many cases where people have invalidated their policy – perhaps by not declaring a pre-existing medical condition or not checking their policy covers a particular activity, such as hiring a moped. Unfortunately they are then surprised that the Foreign Office cannot pay for their bills and flight home”

Travel Checklist – Don’t go away without doing these 4 things:

– Buy travel insurance

– Declare any pre-existing medical conditions

– Check that any activities or sports are covered by your travel insurance

– Check the latest travel advice from the FCO before you leave the UK

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More strikes in Italy and Portugal threaten to disrupt holiday flights

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By , June 22, 2012 1:03 pm
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As austerity measures continue to have an impact across Europe two more strikes are announced that threaten to disrupt our hard earned holidays this summer.

Italian airport handling staff are striking today, 22 June, causing delays and flight cancellations at Milan Linate, Milan Malpensa and Venice airports.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has told passengers who are due to fly to or from these airports to expect delays and/or cancellations and have recommended that passengers check with their airline before travelling. Other airports in Italy appear to be unaffected at the moment.

Easyjet have announced that they have been forced to cancel 14 flights to and from Milan Malpensa and have warned of possible disruptions on services to Venice.

You may also be affected by strike action if you are flying to Portugal in the next few weeks. Unions representing Portuguese air traffic controllers have announced that their members will be taking part in strike action from 29 June to 3 July.

British travellers who are planning to travel to Portugal during this time should be aware that their travel plans may be affected. The Foreign and Commonwealth are advising British Nationals who are travelling to Portugal to stay in touch with their tour operator or airline for the latest information.

If your travel plans are affected by strike action you should be covered under the travel delay section of your travel insurance policy, so long as you booked your holiday and bought your travel insurance before the strike dates were made public.

The travel delay section of a travel insurance policy is designed to help you cope with the cost of additional expenses whilst you are waiting at the airport. There is generally a fixed benefit payable for every 12 or 24 hours which you are delayed – this will vary with different policies so you should check the terms and conditions of your own travel insurance for full details.

Many travel insurance policies also give you the option to ‘abandon’ your holiday after a delay of 12 or 24 hours. This means you can choose not to travel on your holiday and make a claim to recoup the cost.

As well as providing travel insurance cover for strikes, the travel delay section of a travel insurance provides cover if you are delayed due to adverse weather or mechanical breakdown. For more information see the terms and conditions of your own travel insurance policy.

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Consumers confused by Holiday Protection, ATOL and Travel Insurance

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By , March 15, 2012 5:48 pm
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A survey has shown that consumers don’t understand if or how their holidays are protected against insolvency.

When you book a holiday it could be protected against insolvency by the ATOL Scheme, by credit card if you used it to book the holiday, by your travel insurance or not protected at all.

travel insurance

Travel insurance can provide insolvency cover

It’s important to know how your holiday is protected against insolvency, if you don’t know you could find yourself losing out if your holiday supplier stops trading and doesn’t fulfil your booking.

The survey conducted by Explore Research on behalf of Travel Weekly highlighted the amount of confusion which exists with regards to financial protection, holidays and travel insurance. Despite the fact that most respondents thought financial protection was important, few understood if or how their holiday was protected in the event of supplier insolvency.

The survey showed that 96% of UK adults considered financial protection ‘extremely important’ or ‘very important’ when booking an overseas holiday, yet only 52% actively considered what financial protection would be in place for their holiday when they made a booking.

When asked how they thought holidays were protected against insolvency, 70% said by travel insurance and only 42% mentioned ATOL.

This figure highlights the confusion that exists with regards to financial protection for holidays and how consumer’s money could be at risk because of it.

70% of people surveyed thought that travel insurance would provide cover in the event of insolvency, and although it is possible it is not always the case and travellers should check whether their travel insurance provides cover for insolvency before relying on it.

Traditionally travel insurance did not provide cover for insolvency because the majority of holidays were booked as a package via an ATOL bonded tour operator. This meant that holidays were ATOL Protected and the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) would ensure that holiday makers could claim their money back, or get home safely in the event of insolvency.  So there was no need for travel insurance to provide cover for the insolvency of a holiday supplier.

Of course, these days, with low cost airlines and the internet, the way we book our holidays has changed dramatically and a large percentage of holidays booked are not protected by ATOL or the CAA.

Travel insurance can and does provide cover for insolvency, often called Scheduled Airline Failure or Dynamic Packaging cover, but you need to check. Some travel insurance policies include it as standard, some travel insurance policies have the option of adding insolvency cover at an additional price and some travel insurance policies don’t offer insolvency cover at all.

The lesson is; if you are not booking an ATOL bonded holiday, don’t just assume that your travel insurance will provide cover for insolvency, spend a bit of time choosing your travel insurance and buy a travel insurance policy that can provide the extra insolvency protection you need.

Which holidays are ATOL bonded?

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?

At the moment, the basic rule is, if your holiday was sold as a package including flights, advertised at one inclusive price then it should be ATOL Protected, if you have booked or chosen elements of your holiday separately, even if they were booked through the same company they are unlikely to be protected by ATOL and you should make sure your travel insurance provides cover for insolvency.

Find out whether your holiday is protected >>

The Government is changing ATOL to protect more holidays, read our post to find
out how the rules are changing and which holidays will remain unprotected
.

 

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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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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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Travel Insurance Tip No. 5 – Kids may be covered free, but don’t forget to mention them

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By , October 20, 2011 3:45 pm
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Tip number 5 in our top 10 travel insurance tips is, kids may be covered on your policy free of charge, but don’t forget to mention them.

This may sound obvious, but people have made the mistake of assuming their children will be covered even though they haven’t actually listed them when buying their travel insurance policy.

Many family travel insurance policies will cover children under 18 free of charge, when they are travelling with a parent or guardian insured on the same policy. Some insurers may limit the number of children that can be covered free, per insured adult, others have no limits.

The important thing to remember is that even though there is no charge to cover the children, you still need to list them when you buy a policy- If your insurer doesn’t know they exist they won’t be covered.

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Hospitalised abroad without travel insurance, who foots the bill?

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By , October 5, 2011 12:09 pm
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In short, if you don’t have travel insurance, the answer is you or perhaps your family if you’re lucky. However a recent survey by ABTA, the Travel Association has worryingly revealed that 21% of people wrongly believe that the UK Government will cover the costs.

The poll by ABTA has revealed some shocking statistics regarding UK travellers and their travel insurance buying habits.

ABTA’s survey has revealed that one in five, 20% of travellers, are running the risk of sky high medical bills when travelling abroad through not taking out travel insurance in spite of recent high profile cases highlighting the significant risks of doing so to both health and finances.

This fact may be partly explained by 21% mistakenly believing that the UK Government will cover their bills in the event that something goes wrong. One in four, 25% of 15-24 year olds think that this is the case.

Medical treatment abroad can be very expensive and to avoid being faced with large bills if taken ill or after having an accident, the Foreign Office urges people to take out a comprehensive travel insurance policy every time they go away. Although the Foreign Office can provide support and assistance if you are hospitalised abroad, they do not foot the bill.

A recent case of an uninsured man having a motorcycle accident Bali draws attention to how high those costs can be. The man’s family are facing bills in excess of £120,000 for medical treatment and a further £110,000 for an air ambulance to fly him home.

The survey also revealed that 17% of respondents also mistakenly believe that travel insurance is unnecessary when travelling in Europe if they have a European Health Insurance Card.

This is not the case, because although an EHIC card entitles you to basic free state health care in the country you are travelling to, this is unlikely to be of the same standard that you would receive on the NHS and it does not cover repatriation back to the UK. Which means that you could find yourself stranded in a foreign hospital for months on end, or footing an expensive bill for air ambulance transport back to the UK.

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