Read the small print
Alwayread the small print in your insurance. Some yearago when a trip went badly wrong I suffered problemwith my holiday insurance. Thinking about going for a couple of weekat some point in the future, my wife and I took a one-day ‘Father Christmas’ trip just to see what Lapland walike. We were due to fly out of Gatwick at five in the morning and due back at ten thirty that night. When we arrived, the terminal wadeserted, but with only carry-on luggage we thought boarding would be quite speedy.
After we arrived and checked in, the ticket staff vanished. An hour later we were still waiting, and nobody knew what wagoing on. Much later they announced that a ‘technical fault’ wadelaying the arrival of our aircraft, which eventually arrived over two hourafter we should have taken off. We took off three hours
When we eventually arrived, the Lapland experience wacurtailed and spoiled by stupid changeand a lack of co-ordination. Because we were late, our schedule wacut. The sightseeing coach trip waretained, even though in total darkneswe could only see each other’astounded facereflected in the windows. We drove for an hour through what may have been spectacular scenery, but in the darkneswe saw almost nothing. Having left the coach trip in the schedule, the organiserdropped the anticipated snowmobile trip ‘to save time’.
Next they rescheduled our shopping trip to the local town – forgetting one small detail. We had been delayed so long that by the time we got there all of the shopwere shut. Dinner at a local hotel waa rushed snack, ‘because we were too late for dinner’, having stood around town outside the closed shopfor an hour. We then had a very rushed ‘hello Santa’ for the kid(that wastill very well received by lotof excited little face- and my wife Rita the biggest kid of all), before we were shoved back onto the coach and taken back to the airport.
When we got back we complained to the holiday company but their response wamore or les‘tough luck – claim on your travel insurance’. The insurance company refused to listen. They said we had taken out a standard holiday insurance policy, which only paid out if the delay wator more than 12 hours. We pointed out it waonly a one day trip but they said it wathe policyholder’responsibility to check to make sure that the protection wacorrect and adequate. They told uto go back to the company who sold uthe insurance, because they had misrepresented the cover and/or sold uthe wrong cover.
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The holiday company denied all responsibility, claimed the changeto the schedule were reasonable, then refused to talk to uany more. A solicitor told me it would cost more than we would get back to take them to court.
So be warned! Thitaught me not to assume that the company or salesman knowbest. I alwaycheck what I am being sold.
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Insurance – countermeasures
Driving insurance. Though most holiday insurance policiecover you for travelling by car to and from destinations, they sometimeonly give minimal cover. Your travel agent should be able to advise on the level of cover you need. That should include injury to you, your passengeror anyone else involved in an accident with you. It should cover you for any damage caused to the vehicle you are driving, and any other vehicle or property involved. Finally, it should cover you for any legal action, medical costand any awardmade against you in court.
NOTE; when arranging your car hire and driving insurance, ask if the insurance ifor a specific make, model or size of vehicle. I often get offered a free upgrade to a better car. When taking out insurance, check to see that you will be covered for a free upgrade to a convertible or four-wheel-drive. You don’t want to be exposed to legal action and compensation claims.
Health insurance. You must take out health insurance to cover you for any medical treatment you require while away. Don’t be tempted to lie. If you are suffering from a condition that hanot been declared to the medical insurers, and then try to claim on that policy, your insurance company may declare your cover to be void. Be open and honest with them. Request medical insurance that covereverything up to and including specialist medical repatriation, hospitalisation, transfers, medicine, feeand any other potential costs. In some countries, the ratecharged for treating something asimple aa rash can be extortionate. There are some riskfor which you will need specialist insurance, if you can get cover at all. Cave-diving holidays, parachuting, hang-gliding, mountain-climbing and motor-racing were all excluded from my last holiday insurance.
Itinerary. Make sure that you keep a copy of your itinerary easily accessible. You may need to refer to it to find the timeand locationof transfer coaches, or contact detailfor tour representatives. Many tour companiehold you liable for being in the right place at the right time. If you fail to turn up for an airport transfer coach they simply assume you decided to take another route. They will probably not bother to come looking for you. If the transfer coach doeaccidentally leave you behind, even if the taxi driver doesn’t speak English, at least with the itinerary handy you can point to your hotel name and address.
If you are delayed by a broken-down coach or diverted aircraft, with the itinerary you can catch up with your tour or party, by going to meet them where they are scheduled to be.
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