Category: FCO travel advice

Increase in hospitalisations highlights importance of travel insurance

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By , July 20, 2012 11:02 am

An increase in hospitalisations of British nationals in popular holiday resorts highlights the imporantance of having travel insurance over 65 every time you go abroad.

The latest British Behaviour Abroad report published by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has shown an increase in hospitalisations of British nationals in popular holiday hotspots including Spain, Greece and Egypt.

The British Behaviour Abroad report provides figures on the numbers of British Nationals who have required assistance from the Foreign Office over the course of the year.
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.

The FCO are using this increase in hospitalisations to highlight the importance of having comprehensive travel insurance with cover for your medical conditions every time you travel abroad.
No matter what your age, over 65 or under 65, travel insurance is vital. British nationals who have travelled without travel insurance over 65 or have invalidated their travel insurance by not declaring a pre-existing medical condition, will find themselves or their families facing large medical bills if they are hospitalised abroad.

Although Foreign Office staff are there to offer assistance if you do become ill or have an accident, they are not able to cover the cost of medical treatment on your behalf. If you don’t have travel insurance over 65 or are not properly covered by your travel insurance for medical conditions, 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”

New safety measures for cruise holidays and the importance of cruise insurance

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By , May 4, 2012 9:45 am

Good news for cruise ship passengers, many of whom are over 65. Cruise Lines International and the European Cruise Council have announced that new safety measure will be introduced on to cruise ships with immediate effect. Theses safety improvements on-board cruise ships are part of an on-going operational safety review following the sinking of the Costa Concordia earlier this year.

The new cruise safety measures will apply to cruise ships across the world and include the following:

  • More life jackets. Cruise ships will now be required to carry more that one life jacket per traveller
  • Restricted access to the bridge. Passengers will not be allowed onto the bridge during complicated manoeuvres, although bridge tours will still be allowed at other times.
  • More careful planning of a ship’s passage. Every ship’s passage plan will now need to be drafted by a designated officer, approved by a master and briefed to every member of the bridge in advance.

Of course any improvement in cruise ship safety is always good news for all passengers, particularly if you are over 65 and may not be able to move around as quickly as you use to, but it’s not the only thing you need to consider before heading off on a cruise holiday, getting the right travel insurance to cover your cruise is also very important.

The Foreign Office advise you to have travel insurance in place every time you travel abroad. The most important reason for this is to cover the cost of any unexpected medical treatment. Although most cruise ships will have medical centres on board, making emergency medical treatment readily available, you need to have travel insurance cover in place to help cover the cost.  Travel insurance is particularly important if you fall seriously ill whilst the ship is at sea. If it is deemed medically necessary the ship’s doctor or captain will change course, or arrange an emergency disembarkation at sea to get you to a hospital on shore. This does not come cheap, so having cruise travel insurance in place before you travel is vital.

Cruise holidays are becoming increasingly popular with older holiday makers, as such cruise insurance over 65 is also becoming more important. A key thing to remember about travel insurance over 65 is that not all travel insurance policies will provide cover for cruise holidays as standard, some cheaper travel insurance policies will exclude cruise holidays altogether and some will require an additional premium to cover cruises.

Check the terms and conditions of your travel insurance over 65 policy to ensure that it provides cover for cruise holidays before you travel.

More information about cruise insurance over 65 >>

FCO warns: EHIC does not replace travel insurance over 65

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By , April 27, 2012 1:04 pm

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is reminding UK travellers of the importance of taking travel insurance over 65 every time you travel following research that showed over half of British travellers wrongly believe that an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) entitles them to free medical care anywhere in Europe.

Lynda St Cooke of the Foreign Office’s Know Before You Go Campaign said: “It is worrying that so many British EHIC holders are not aware of what the card entitles them to. If you are travelling in Europe, you should definitely take your EHIC. But it is also important to take out comprehensive travel insurance before you travel”.

The EHIC is important for British travellers to Europe because it proves your right to state provided health care, and in some cases this may be free or at a reduced cost.  However it does not cover the full cost of medical care in Europe or cover the cost of medical repatriation back to the UK.

The other benefit of having an EHIC when you travel to Europe is that many travel insurance providers will reduce of waive the excess payment on a claim for medical costs, if the EHIC was used when obtaining medical treatment and this resulted in a reduction of the cost.

In short, although the EHIC is useful to have when you travel to Europe; it does not replace the need for travel insurance over 65, which is vital every time you travel.

Travel insurance over 65 will provide cover the costs of all types of emergency medical treatment whilst you are away and also provide cover for repatriation back to the UK if it is deemed necessary. Terms and conditions will apply when you buy a travel insurance policy, whether you are over 65 or under 65, so read the policy wording before you travel and make sure it is suitable to cover your medical conditions and your holiday.

To ensure that you are covered for medical costs relating to any pre-existing medical conditions you will need to declare these medical conditions when you get a quote for travel insurance over 65.

It is worth taking the extra time when getting a quote for travel insurance over 65 to make sure that you declare any pre-existing medical conditions to give you the peace of mind that you are covered by your travel insurance if you need medical treatment whilst you are on holiday.

Easter Getaway? FCO issues travel insurance reminder

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By , March 23, 2012 11:33 am

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) are advising travellers to buy comprehensive travel insurance before they travel this Easter.

The FCO is reminding travellers how expensive an emergency abroad can turn out to be if you are uninsured. For instance, if you are hospitalised abroad and require air ambulance transport home, it could cost as much as £16,000 from the Canary Islands and much more from other destinations.

Buying travel insurance is vital to avoid this type of unexpected cost; a comprehensive travel insurance policy will provide cover for emergency medical expenses and repatriation back to the UK by air ambulance if the medical team decide that is the best course of action for you.

When you buy travel insurance over 65, remember to declare any pre-existing medical conditions that you may have to ensure that you are properly covered.

If you are travelling within Europe you should also make sure that you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and that it is still valid. An EHIC entitles you to reduced cost medical treatment in EU countries, but it doesn’t replace the need for travel insurance because it won’t cover all medical treatment and it won’t cover the cost of repatriation.

Having a valid EHIC can also save you money in the event that you need to make a claim on your travel insurance. Many travel insurance providers will waiver the excess payment on a medical claim if you used your EHIC card when receiving medical treatment, saving you anything from £50 to a few hundred depending on the terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy.

As well as reminding of the need to buy travel insurance, the FCO also asking travellers to check the latest travel advice on their website before they leave the UK.

The FCO publishes continually updated travel advice by country, where you can find information about laws and customs, entry requirements, any upcoming strikes or industrial action and details on any areas which you should avoid.

So, if you have an Easter getaway planned, buy travel insurance and check the latest advice from the FCO before you travel. A little bit of extra preparation could save you an enormous amount of time and money once you are away.

There are several ways that you can keep up to date with the latest travel advice from the FCO:

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

Follow @FCOtravel on Twitter

Follow the FCO on Facebook.

 

 

 

 

Rising medical costs highlights need for travel insurance for over 65s

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By , January 19, 2012 2:02 pm

Research into the rising cost of medical treatment abroad last year prompted the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to advise travellers of all ages to make travel insurance a priority when they are planning a trip abroad.

Travel insurance is particularly important if you are over 65 or if you have a pre-existing medical condition, as unfortunately this means that you may be more at risk of falling ill or having an accident and therefore needing medical treatment whilst you are away.

The Foreign Office advises over 65s to buy a travel insurance policy with adequate medical cover for their chosen destination, it is important that this is done before you depart. The medical cover of your travel insurance policy should be at least £1m for European travel and £2m for the rest of the world. It is also important to declare any pre-existing medical conditions, you may not be covered by your over 65 travel insurance policy if you don’t declare these when asked.

Phil Lords from the Foreign Offices ‘Know Before You Go’ Campaign says:

“These findings highlight the importance of taking out insurance before you travel. Many people try to cut holiday costs, only to discover that when things go wrong they are obliged to pay thousands of pounds in bills. Getting comprehensive travel insurance means that whilst an accident may disrupt your holiday, it won’t bankrupt you.”

The findings of the research show that the average travel insurance medical claim made by British tourists requiring medical treatment abroad in 2010 was £1,333.41. Countries where the cost of medical care can be high such as the USA had average claims of £4,725.

The differing costs of medical treatment abroad is something that is often reflected in the cost of your travel insurance, so if you are trying to keep your expenditure down, why not get travel insurance over 65 quotes for different countries before you make your final decision on where to travel? If you are over 65 or have medical conditions, the country you are travelling to could make a difference of several hundred pounds to the cost of your travel insurance.

The figures above clearly illustrate why travel insurance over 65 to the USA, where the average claim is three times higher than the overall average, can cost more than travel insurance for trips to other countries.

If you are a traveller over 65 looking for travel insurance, or you have pre-existing medical conditions, and you want to keep the cost of travel insurance down, you can save money by travelling to countries where medical treatment is not so expensive, or countries where the UK has a reciprocal health care agreement in place, making travel insurance over 65 to that country less expensive.

If you are over 65 don’t try to save money by travelling without insurance – it could cost you a lot more in the long run.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office can provide some support, such as notifying friends and family, if you are hospitalised abroad, but they will not pick up the cost, without travel insurance that would be down to you.

Ski and Snowboard Checklist: Ski Insurance Over 65

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By , December 6, 2011 8:58 am

The first thing you should do once you have booked your ski or snowboarding holiday is to buy appropriate ski insurance for your trip. Ski insurance is vital to provide cover for emergency medical expenses if you have an accident on the slopes, which could easily add up to thousands of pounds.

Skiing Risoul, France (2005)

Ski insurance over 65

When you are over 65 you may have more difficulty getting ski insurance at a good price than you used to, but you still need to make sure you are covered. Over sixty five travel insurance has partnered with Goodtogoinsurance.com to provide ski insurance over 65.

Once you have booked your ski holiday and bought your ski insurance over 65, you can start preparing for the slopes, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has produced a ski checklist to help you be better prepared for the slopes.

Before you go:

• Be physically prepared for skiing. This will help you get the most out of your ski trip and reduce your risk of injury. Good to practice sports include cycling and running. Also – don’t push yourself too far – there’s no shame in calling it a day early if you’re tired and enjoying the rest of the afternoon in the spa. Most ski injuries occur on the last run of the day when you’re tired.

• Get the right ski insurance. When buying ski insurance make sure it covers all activities you might participate in e.g. sleigh rides, bob sleigh, Heli Skiing, snowboarding etc and check the small print for any hidden clauses e.g. “only covered off piste with a guide”

• Stay sun safe. Perhaps not the obvious things to pack for a ski holiday but the sun is much stronger at altitude, and you get a double hit when it reflects off the snow so sunglasses and high factor sun cream are essential items to avoid risk of burn and protect your eyes.

When you’re there:

• Know your limits (being over 65, you should know your limits by now!). A night of après ski or a boozy lunch can affect you more quickly at high altitudes. Be aware of your limits to stay safe on and off the ski slopes. If walking home at night make sure you keep to the designated resort paths and wrap up warm.

• Keep hydrated. Exercise in high altitude can lead your body to tire and dehydrate faster than usual so you’ll need to drink between four to six litres of water a day.

• Stretch and warm up. Cold weather can cause tension in your muscles making them more prone to injury, and when you are over 65 you may need to pay more attention to this than you did when you were younger. Make sure you stretch well by doing a few warm up exercises before you hit the ski slopes.

• Choose the right piste for your level of skiing. It might be tempting to impress your friends with that black run but overstretching yourself may lead you down a slippery slope. Also be aware that the grading levels of ski slopes can be different; what may be a blue run in France may be a red run in Austria.

• Be sensible off piste. If you’re seeking fresh powder and unless you are trained, it is sensible to go with a group led by a professional guide. Pack the right equipment such as a probe pole and shovel.

• Be avalanche aware. Make sure you read or listen to the daily avalanche forecast to minimise your risk of being caught in one. The steeper the slope you ski on, the greater the avalanche risk.

Over sixty five travel insurance has partnered with Goodtogoinsurance.com to provide ski insurance over 65.

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Ski Insurance Over 65: FCO say don’t hit the slopes without it

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By , December 6, 2011 8:51 am

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has issued fresh advice to ski and snowboard enthusiasts, to emphasise the importance of ski insurance when going on a winter sports holiday.
Ski insurance is vital when you go skiing, no matter what you’re age. Being over 65 you may be more careful than you used to be, or you may not! Either way ski insurance over 65 is a must before you hit the slopes.

Ski at Les Contamines

Ski at Les Contamines

With fresh snow falling in the last couple of days, fears that Europe will be short of snow this season will hopefully be unfounded. This means that we Brits are ready and raring to hit the slopes.

The advice issued by the FCO yesterday quotes new research which shows that one in five travellers are still not taking out ski insurance when they go on a winter sports holiday. This is a big risk to take because the costs of an accident on the ski slopes can easily amount to thousands of pounds.

Every year there are numerous incidents where skiers are faced with huge medical bills following an accident on the slopes. This is often because people have not taken out ski insurance, or have not read the small print of their ski insurance policy.

The cost of an accident on the ski slopes can be significant – a fractured leg in the United States could land you with a medical bill of up to £40,000. A knee injury in Austria could set you back £8,000. Not getting ski insurance cover or not training beforehand is just not worth the risk.

Lynda St Cooke from the Foreign Office, said:
“We strongly advise anyone hitting the slopes this winter to take out comprehensive travel insurance and make sure you have an up to date EHIC card. Don’t forget to check the small print – most insurance policies will not cover you if you’re under the influence of alcohol. If you’re unlucky enough to have an accident and you’re not covered, you could find yourself thousands of pounds out of pocket.”

When you are over 65 you may have more difficulty getting ski insurance at a good price than you used to, but you still need to make sure you are covered. Oversixtyfivetravelinsurance.com has partnered with Goodtogoinsurance.com to provide ski insurance over 65.

The FCO have provided these safety tips to help you stay safe on the slopes this winter.
Read the FCO’s Ski Checklist >>

Ski Insurance Over 65 – Get a Quote
Over sixty five travel insurance has partnered with Goodtogoinsurance.com to provide ski insurance over 65.

ski insurance over 65 - get a quote

Travel tips: Will that souvenir result in a prison sentence?

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By , November 9, 2011 9:45 am

Just because they sell it at the airport, doesn’t mean that you’re allowed to bring it home.

Our latest travel tip is prompted by a warning issued by the Foreign Office and Commonwealth Office (FCO) recently:  Although whale meat is freely available for sale in souvenir packs at Iceland’s Keflavik airport, you shouldn’t be tempted to bring some home.

The FCO said “Whale meat is available in Iceland, but tourists should be aware that its importation into the UK/EU is illegal under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. Any importation of whale meat to the UK will result in seizure of goods, possibly a fine of up to £5000 and a custodial sentence”.

When you travel overseas, especially outside of the EU, you need to be careful when buying souvenirs and bringing your purchases home. Do not assume that you can bring anything you like back into the country.

As illustrated above it is illegal to bring back souvenirs made from endangered species, which are not just limited to animal products. Some plants, such as orchids are also on the endangered species list and therefore it is illegal to bring them back into the UK.

There may be amazing orchids on sale in Bangkok airport, but if you buy one it is likely to be confiscated when you arrive back home and you could get fined.  Don’t just assume that because they are selling it to departing tourists at the airport that it is legal for you to bring it home.

Other than things on the endangered species list other items you need to be careful of are alcohol and tabacco, dairy or meat products and plant products.

Generally speaking, if items are for your own personal use, you can bring back anything you like from within the EU, it is when you have travelled to countries outside of the EU that you need to be more aware of the rules.

You are prohibited from bringing in any meat or dairy products from most countries outside the EU, and the majority of fruits, vegetables, seeds and bulbs are subject to weight or quantity restrictions. Some plants and plant products (including potatoes) and loose soil may not be brought into the UK unless you have obtained the relevant licence.

In short, if you’ve been to a country outside of the EU it’s best to steer clear of any food or plant products and limit yourself to one litre of spirits and 200 cigarettes.

Check the Home Office or Directgov websites for a detailed guide on which food and plants you can and can’t bring back to the UK.

Thailand Floods: What if your holiday is affected?

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By , October 27, 2011 12:49 pm

In response to the flooding which is affecting large areas of the Thailand, last night the FCO updated its travel advice to advise against all but essential travel to the city of Bangkok and the twenty-six provinces in Thailand currently affected by widespread flooding.

The Government of Thailand has announced a public holiday in all flood-affected areas, including the city of Bangkok, to run from 27 to 31 October. Some services may not be available during this period.

British Nationals who are already in Thailand are advised to exercise caution and following the advice of the local authorities. If you are due to travel to Thailand you should contact your airline or tour operator for more information.

Please note: The advice against all but essential travel to the city of Bangkok does not include transit through Suvarnabhumi airport, although Don Muang domestic airport closed on 25 October due to the effects flooding.

What if your holiday is affected?

If you are due to travel to Thailand, you should contact your tour operator or airline for the latest information. You can also check to see if there is any cover under your travel insurance policy, but your first port of call should always be your airline or tour operator to find out how your travel arrangements will be affected.

Check the latest travel advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)

The FCO has stated that it will be continually reviewing the situation in Thailand and it will publish updated advice on its website, so check for their website for the latest advice before travel. You can also follow them on twitter @fcotravel.

Be aware, that if you choose to travel against FCO advice that your travel insurance cover will be not be valid.

What does travel insurance cover?

There are two sections of your travel insurance policy that could provide cover if your holiday is affected by flooding.

Travel delay under your travel insurance

If flooding delays or prevents your departure from the UK, or delays your return flight to the UK, you may be able to make a claim under the travel delay section of your policy.

Generally, if your outbound or return flight to or from the UK is delayed due to adverse weather conditions you can claim a benefit for every full 12 or 24 hours that you are delayed, check your policy wording for details. This benefit is intended to help cover additional expenses such as food and drink if you are stuck at the airport for longer than expected.

Also, if your outbound flight is delayed by more than 12 or 24 hours you might have the option with your travel insurance policy to abandon your holiday and make a claim for the cost, again, you should check your policy terms and conditions for full details.

Always check the terms and conditions of your policy – you usually have to have checked in for your flight for the travel delay cover to be applicable.

Catastrophe or uninhabitable accommodation cover

Catastrophe cover, which can also be known as uninhabitable accommodation cover or accommodation cover is included in many travel insurance policies.

It is designed to provide cover for additional, irrecoverable travel or accommodation costs if you are forced to move from your pre-paid, pre-booked holiday accommodation (outside of the UK) as a result of unforeseen events such as flood, fire, earthquake, hurricane and medical epidemic. The cover is intended to enable you to continue your holiday in alternative accommodation, or if that’s not possible, return to the UK. Check your travel insurance policy before you travel for full details.

This section of your travel insurance policy may be applicable if you are in Thailand and your holiday accommodation is affected by flooding.

Remember; check the FCO website for the latest advice before you travel and contact your airline or tour operator for information on how or if your travel arrangements will be affected.

Travel tips: Visiting Friends and Family Abroad

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By , October 17, 2011 1:31 pm

Whatever age you retire, 55, 65 or older, the change in lifestyle should give you more time to spend with family and friends, and if you’re lucky, that might involve a trip abroad.

Although visiting friends and family abroad can be like going to a second home, you should still treat your trip abroad like any other – including buying travel insurance over 65.

If you used to live in the country you are visiting, or if you have been there several times, you might think that you know it all and not prepare for your trip as thoroughly as you would if you were going to a country for the first time, but there are still things you should remember.

If have dual nationality, the British government will only be able to help you in certain situations, and it could even affect your travel insurance.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has provided the following tips to keep in mind when you’re visiting friends and family abroad.

• Buy travel insurance and find out if your cover is affected if you are a dual national. Your family or friends can offer support if you become ill or have an accident, but they won’t want to foot the bill. Make sure you have appropriate travel insurance over 65 in place.
• If you decide you want to extend your stay, check the maximum duration trip that your travel insurance will cover you for. You may be able to extend your travel insurance policy, but there is usually a maximum number of days that a policy will provide cover for. If your trip extends beyond this you will not be covered.
• Check that your passport is valid for the entire duration of your trip, particularly if you stay will be a long one. In some countries your passport needs to be valid for six months beyond your return date.
• Take a copy of your passport and travel documents with you.
• If you have dual nationality, there might be benefits to travelling on one of your passports, but not the other.
• Visit your doctor to ask about vaccinations. If you’ve been visiting a country for years, it might be that some of your vaccinations need to be renewed
• If you’re visiting a country that is prone to malaria, take antimalarials. If you’ve lived there before, it doesn’t make you immune to the disease
• Visit the FCO’s Travel Advice by Country page – the situation in the country may have changed since the last time you were there.
• When you visit friends and family, you might want to take presents or bring souvenirs home with you. Find out what you are allowed to take with you and what you can bring back to the UK. Remember, meat and dairy products cannot be brought back into the UK.
• If you need a visa for the country you are travelling to, don’t be tempted to overstay it as you could be given a hefty fine and prevented from returning.

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