Things can go wrong on holiday; I’ve already mentioned losing your passport or travel documents. Other problems include stolen luggage, you might get ill or need to fly home in a hurry. Accidents happen not just on roads and ski slopes, but wherever you find travellers.
All these risks and more can be covered by taking out travel insurance. Don’t leave home without it.
However, don’t assume you’re covered for anything that might happen. Travel insurance companies don’t really want to help, they want to keep your money, and so there are probably more reasons why they won’t pay out than reasons why they will.
Check the small print. You may not be covered if you have an accident on a jet ski, a banana boat, cycling, playing a sport, if you’re under the influence of drink or drugs, or even if you’re just messing around.
Also, exclusions vary from policy to policy. If you’re planning on a specialist trip make sure that it’s covered in the documents, don’t take anyone’s word for it.
It’s worth paying more to get the right cover. Free insurance from banks and credits cards generally offer low levels of cover. If in doubt speak to a specialist (not a travel agent or a supermarket)
Getting you home after an accident could easily cost £50,000 to £100,000, so it’s not about getting the cheapest possible insurance it’s about getting the right insurance.
In 2012 a woman died after being bitten by an animal while in South Asia. It is so easy to come into contact with animals while you are away, for example, loads of hotels have cats roaming around. A rabies jab may have prevented this woman’s death. I’m not saying that everyone should have a rabies jab before they go away, but you should talk to your GP to get up to date information on health issue at your destination. Malaria is a common problem, Cheryl Cole illness being a recent example.
Make sure you have taken all the correct medical advice. You don’t have to go to your GP, you could use a travel clinic, but this will cost more. However some medicines have nasty side effects when combined with an existing condition, so a GP would know which would be best for you.
Some travel insurance companies may expect you to have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if you are travelling to a country that is a member of the European Economic Area (including Switzerland). This card is free.
This will entitle you to the same state provided healthcare as the nationals of the county that you are visiting. This doesn’t replace travel insurance as it won’t cover all treatments and you cannot use it to fly home if you’re ill.
Different countries handle this in different ways, so check before you go. For example in Malta you may have to pay and then claim back before you leave. If you don’t you will have to claim the money back from the NHS and this isn’t a quick service.
Don’t forget to include your card when you scan your travel documents.
For more information visit http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcareabroad/EHIC/Pages/about-the-ehic.aspx
You may be away enjoying yourself with your minds on other things, but you’re as much at risk of being a victim of crime when travelling as you are when you’re at home. So be on your guard.
The FCO website (www.gov.uk/fco) has travel advice for every recognised country in the world. So see what it says about your destination. It’s not all about terrorism and bombs, crime waves and hotspots are also mentioned. You can also find warnings on travel forums such as TripAdvisor.
Only take what you need when you’re out and about, leave everything else in your room safe, or in the hotel’s safe. If you look like a tourist then you will be more of a target, so don’t have loads of camera equipment, iPod, etc. dangling down from you.
Use taxis instead of walking or using the local public transport after dark. Never hail a taxi, only use one in an official taxi rank, or if you use a taxi from the hotel get the driver’s business card and call him every time you need a lift.
If you see a demonstration or disturbance, don’t hang around to watch. It could turn violent and police in different countries have different method in dealing with large crowds, so you could get arrested, hurt or worse.
Keep an eye on your valuables at all times, don’t leave anything unattended on the beach or by the pool. An out-of-sight security wallet may also help.
You should be extra careful if you have been drinking as you are less likely to be aware of people around you.
If you are robbed or attacked you should report the crime to the local police and obtain a crime number and report from them. You’ll need this for any insurance claims.
Inform your bank/credit card issuer if your traveller’s cheques or credit cards are stolen. Check your bank’s terms and conditions to see what you are liable for if you lose your cards. Don’t forget to include the bank’s contact details with your scanned documents.
Your bank may be able to transfer emergency money for you to use if your cards have to be blocked. Again check with your bank before you go to see what they will and won’t do.
Local police will handle the investigation into the crime. You should not wait until you get home to report it. You may be entitled to compensation as a victim of crime, so ask the embassy or consulate to see if its work consulting a local lawyer.
It is highly unlikely that you will make any money out of buying jewellery, precious stones, carpets or anything else and selling it on when back in the UK. If something sounds too good to be true it probably is. Also never agree to take anything back for anyone.