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Holiday insurance wish list
Apr 9th, 2014 by elisa

Don’t you wish your travel insurance would cover real holiday-spoilers such as inedible hotel food, rude hotel staff and bad weather? If so, then you’re not alone. 

According to a survey by comparison website Gocompare.com Travel Insurance, over a third of travellers wish they could buy insurance against inedible hotel food.

The website asked 1,300 travellers about the things they wish they could insure against, that aren’t covered by typical travel insurance policies. Top of the wish list is delayed departures, on flights, ferries or trains. Currently many policies do provide some cover for delayed departures, but only to cover additional costs of being stuck in the airport for hours, not to compensate for lost holiday time.

Caroline Lloyd from Gocompare.com Travel Insurance said: “For many people, their holiday is not only a chance to relax away from the everyday pressures of life, it’s a big financial commitment they have spent months, if not years, saving for. So it’s not surprising that they want the perfect getaway with no delays, top-notch food and accommodation – not an encounter with Basil Fawlty.

“While our survey takes a light-hearted look at the holiday-horrors people wish they could insure against, it gives us the opportunity to highlight the importance of travel insurance in protecting holidaymakers against the unexpected – from freak weather, illness or injury, or theft or loss of baggage.”

Results of the survey:

Rank  Insurance wish list %
1 Delayed departure (flights, ferries, trains, etc.) 51
2 Disappointing accommodation 44
3 Misleading brochure description of hotel and/or holiday resort 44
4 Inedible hotel food 34
5 Bad weather 31
6 A noisy room 22
7 Being plagued by drunken teenagers in the evening 18
8 Rude hotel/accommodation staff 15
9 Annoying fellow guests 12
10 Terrible organised entertainment 7
Pre-ticked boxes for insurance add-ons could be banned
Mar 12th, 2014 by elisa

Pre-ticked boxes for insurance add-ons when purchasing services like a holiday could be banned by the Financial Conduct Authority.

The FCA claims the £1bn insurance add-on market is overcharging customers for products they may not need or use. An investigation in July 2013 by the FCA found poor competition at point of sale and low levels of claims. There was also a lack of information which prevented customers from making informed choices regarding the products.

25% of customers who bought insurance as an add-on were not aware that they could buy it separately elsewhere. 38% said they had not planned to buy the add-on before the purchase. 69% of those who bought it could not accurately remember how much they paid three to four months later, with 19% forgetting they had even bought it.

Christopher Woolard, director of policy, risk and research at the FCA, said: “There’s a clear case for us to intervene. Competition in this market is not working well and many consumers are simply not getting value for money.

“Firms must start putting consumers first and stop seeing them as pound signs.”

The FCA is proposing banning pre-ticked boxes to ensure consumers actively opt in to buy, and not have to choose to opt out. It will also require companies to publish claim ratios to highlight low-value products, which it hopes will encourage better quality products for consumers.

2013 round up
Dec 30th, 2013 by elisa

It’s nearing the end of 2013, so it’s time for our annual round up of travel news and features covered in this blog over the year.

January is normally the time when you start to examine your finances after the Christmas splurge, and this year was no different for the travel news. A Sunday Times report that found customers were seriously losing out on foreign currency exchange rates when purchasing their travel money at airports.  We also looked at the financial benefits of flying to an airport further from your destination and driving the rest of the way. Meanwhile, Spain was voted the best value destination for 2013, and Eve told us why she thought Spain was a great winter destination.

However, it was all about Greece in February! With its award-winning beaches and Thomas Cook trend survey that revealed a huge increase in bookings during the month. The month ended with a warning to check your travel insurance small print, as many travellers were reported to have fallen foul of clauses in their insurance, which meant they wouldn’t get a pay out on claims.

In March, a woman successfully smuggled a dog onto a plane; we looked at the biosphere reserve that is Menorca; and BA started selling tickets for flights on its ‘red carpet route’ to Los Angeles in its new super jumbo A380. Easyjet installed new, lighter, seats on its aircraft in an attempt to save on fuel and CO2 emissions. Bitter weather threatened to blight travellers’ Easter holidays, but this didn’t stop Peter Rabbit visiting children at Heathrow.

The bizarre law in Florida that all British Citizens must carry an International Driving Permit in the state was repealed in April. Samoa Air launched its controversial pay by weight flights and we looked at the facts about turbulence.

Easyjet began testing its volcanic ash cloud detection technology in May. We found that trillions of air miles are going to waste; and there was the slightly disturbing report of a flight being diverted because the pilot got locked out of the cockpit. There was good news for Harry Potter fans going on holiday in Florida, as the Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. Entertainment announced the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Diagon Alley “environment”.

A US ban on using a laptop during take off on flights was lifted in June.

Tenerife enjoyed at 14% rise in arrivals from the UK in July. It was also discovered that many English families were flying from Scottish airports to save up to £500 on their holiday travel costs. It may have been one of the hottest summers we’ve had in years, but this didn’t stop large numbers of Brits leaving for even sunnier holiday destinations in the last weekend of July. We gave advice on how to avoid common pick pocketing scams as the Foreign Office issued a warning about pick pockets in Switzerland.

As August enjoyed more of the heatwave, Ryanair had a drop in flight bookings; it also took legal action against an unfavourable Dispatches programme “Ryanair: Secrets from the Cockpit”.

Etihad Airways launched its “flying nanny” service to look after passengers’ children in September. Helly Kitty planes took to the skies with Taiwan’s EVA Air, and a computer glitch in US Airways system sold $0 flights on its website. Spain enjoyed record visitor numbers over the summer, proving the predictions earlier in the year.

In October, Manchester was announced to be the UK’s first Airport City; and Ryanair announced that it would work on a better customer service.

It was all about the measure of happiness for travel in November, and BA introduced interactive billboards to remind people of the magic of flying.

The Northern Lights in Norway topped Brits’ “must see” list in December. Britain also endured wide-spread bad weather with winds of up to 140mph battering parts of the country, and flooding hitting others.

That’s the round up for 2013, make sure to follow this blog for more travel news and articles in 2014, and book your holiday villas at a wide range of destinations on Villaseek.

Flybe criticises lack of passenger compensation
Dec 10th, 2013 by elisa

As a decision is being made over airline compensation for the grounded flights over the weekend, Flybe has hit out at the lack of compensation for passengers.

A technical glitch in the NATS air traffic control phone systems at the weekend caused flights to be severely delayed or cancelled in both the UK and abroad. Under current rules, passengers are not entitled to compensation as the glitch was out of the airlines’ control. However, Flybe has criticised air traffic control for washing its hands of any compensation to passengers hit by the “fiasco”. It said that it’s unacceptable that airlines have to “pick up the tab”.

Chief commercial officer Paul Simmons said: “It’s clearly not a fair system when NATS can wash their hands of any financial compensation to the millions of passengers who were let down. But the airlines once again have to act as ‘the Insurers of last resort’ and pick up the tab. That’s really not acceptable.”

170 Flybe flights were scheduled for Saturday 7th December, but only 27% of the services left within 15 minutes of their scheduled departure time, and four were cancelled.

NATS is currently carrying out an investigation into what went wrong with the system. Its regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, is waiting for the results before deciding on compensation for airlines.

Florida repeals peculiar driving licence law
Apr 8th, 2013 by elisa

A peculiar law, which required British citizens to carry an International Driving Permit to hire cars in Florida, has been repealed.

The law was introduced in January without notification to driving organisations such as the AA, or to the UK travel trade. The lack of communication left many British holidaymakers without hire cars for their holidays because they only had UK drivers’ licences, which were invalid because of the new law.

The law only came to light when a British tourist was unable to hire a pre-booked car at Florida airport because he didn’t have the required international permit.

Once it came to the attention of the media, the State of Florida said it wouldn’t enforce the law, which had been originally designed towards drivers with foreign-language drivers’ licences. However, this decision still left holidaymakers unsure of their legal position and insurance rights, fearing lack of cover if they had an accident. Also, some car hire firms continued to insist on the international permit, leaving some people unable to get their pre-booked cars.

The law was, thankfully, repealed last week. Therefore, it is no longer a requirement for British holidaymakers to hold an international permit to hire a car in the State of Florida. However, be aware that some hire firms may still insist on it, so try to check their policy before you book.

 

Travel insurance – check the small print
Feb 27th, 2013 by elisa

How often do you just take the first available travel insurance you find? Or just the cheapest? You might think that they’re all pretty similar, but you’d be wrong, and you could come unstuck if you don’t follow the small print.

A recent survey by consumer rights champion Which? found that out of all insurance products, travel insurance had the highest claim rejection rate and lowest satisfaction amongst consumers.

The most frequently rejected claims were for holidays cancelled because of a relative falling ill, failing to report a loss or theft to police within 24 hours, and lost or stolen belongings not being supervised to the satisfaction of the insurer.

The report said: “We thought asking for loss or thefts to be reported within 24 hours to police was not always possible. Look for policies that don’t put a time limit on when you have to report the incident to the police.

“We also found that insurers can interpret the definition of “unattended belongings” too strictly, we preferred policies which offered cover as long as luggage is “carried in line with a transport provider’s requirements”.

It also found that on examination of 10 large insurers’ policies, some travellers were expected to declare pre-existing medical conditions for relatives, including cousins.

“We think this is unreasonable and advise people to look for policies that restrict this exclusion to relatives’ conditions of which they are aware,” it said.

A spokesperson for Which? added: “Travel insurance policies can be complicated, so it’s no surprise that people can be confused by the small print.

“We advise people read through the policy document before signing anything. If you have a claim rejected, the financial ombudsman can take up your case if an appeal with the insurer fails.”

Compensation ruling for flights over three hours late
Oct 23rd, 2012 by elisa

A European law that states airlines must pay passengers for long delays has today been upheld by the European Court of Justice. The verdict comes after TUI Travel, British Airways and Easyjet mounted a two-year battle to overthrow the law.

The ruling confirmed that passengers are entitled to up to €600 (£480) compensation if they arrived by three or more hours late to their destination. The only exceptions to this is if the reason was out of the airline’s control such as weather problems or wild-cat strikes.

Flight-delayed.co.uk, a website that assists passengers making claims, estimates that €90m worth of claims are outstanding after being put on hold for the duration of the legal battle. The airlines had applied to the court for the claims to be limited to only those after the ruling, but this was refuted.

Despite the ruling in favour of passengers, Flight-delayed.co.uk remains skeptical over the ease and speed with which passengers will receive their compensation: “European judges decide over and over again in favour of air passengers. Nonetheless, receiving compensation remains a hassle,” it said. “This probably will not change even after the verdict.”

 

Are you a passenger waiting for compensation? Do you feel confident that the ruling will make you receiving your compensation any easier? Please post your comments below.

2011 Round up
Jan 3rd, 2012 by elisa

Happy New Year to all our readers! Before we move on to this year’s news, here’s a round up of some of the biggest stories we covered on this blog in 2011, it certainly was an eventful year!

January started with the troubled BMI threatening to withdraw its Heathrow – Glasgow route after passenger charges at Heathrow were raised (this was confirmed a month later). Ryanair returned to Manchester with four new routes. And the political troubles in Egypt disrupted flights.

Spiraling conflict in Egypt caused complete cancellation of routes to popular holiday destinations in February. Meanwhile, Which? launched a super complaint on airline card fee charges,the cost of Qantas’ engine troubles were revealed, and airlines flying from the UK finally started to show clearer air fares.

March brought faster flight times under a deal signed by traffic controllers. But by far the biggest news of the month was the huge tsunami which hit Japan and led to re-routing of flights to avoid possible radiation risk, and advice to leave Tokyo.

A Skyscanner survey found Spain back in favour for British holidaymakers in April.

In May Belfast Airport started to charge for going for a cigarette break, and the ongoing battle between Unite and British Airways was finally settled!

More natural disasters happened in June with violent aftershocks in Christchurch, New Zealand and volcanic eruptions in Chile.

The News of the World phone-hacking scandal broke in July with airlines withdrawing their advertisements as a result.

In August research revealed the use of smartphones were ruining people’s holidays.

The Rugby World Cup was held in New Zealand in September, where Wales’ hopes were dashed.

The first biofuel passenger flight took place in October, however green campaigners claimed it wasn’t as environmentally friendly as everyone thought.

Europe announced a ban on body scanners at airports in November, but the UK decided to go against the decision.

Finally, December saw 150mph winds hit parts of Scotland, which is where we are now at the start of 2012 as tremendous winds continue to batter the UK once more.

 

So, what travel news is in store for 2012? Keep up to date here!

 

More book at last minute
Nov 2nd, 2010 by jason

This year an estimated 1.28 million people left booking their summer holiday until two weeks or less beforehand, and 818,000 left it till the last seven days. That’s according to new research from Sainsbury’s Credit Cards, which also found that 290,000

travelled to their resorts within 48 hours of making their booking.

The trend towards late booking is partly the result of economic uncertainty and partly because more people are seeking last minute bargains. However, most people still book well ahead, which gives the widest choice and peace of mind. The survey showed that 8.0 million people booked this year’s holiday at least six months ahead, with a further 12.6 million booking between one and five months beforehand.

Sainsbury’s estimates that a total of £5.46 billion of summer holiday expenditure was placed on credit cards, with the majority of people (58%) paying that off within a month.

Meanwhile, a poll of 2,000 British adults by Sainsbury’s Travel Insurance has found that 11 per cent of Britons holidaying abroad have been the victims of theft in the last five years. They lost an estimated total of £1.7bn of possessions, yet only just over half the victims (51%) reported the incident to local police, which is normally required if an insurance claim is to be made. The average value of the items stolen was £326 per person.

Pickpocketing was the most common form of theft (21%), followed by stealing from a car (17%), bag snatching (16%) and theft from a hotel room or villa (15%). Cash was stolen in 35% of cases, with cameras (15%) and mobile phones (14%) next in line.

More ash to come?
Nov 1st, 2010 by jason

The Icelandic eruption that caused travel misery for millions of airline passengers in April could be just a hiccup compared with the potential impact of a bigger eruption, an Icelandic expert has warned.

At its peak in mid-April, the Eyjafjallajökull volcano caused the cancellation of more than 100,000 flights, affecting eight million passengers. But there could be worse to come, vulcanologist Haraldur Sigurdsson told a conference to discuss how to improve coordination of the global response to another eruption. Each of the eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull in 920, 1612, and 1821-1823 was followed by an eruption of its larger neighbour Katla. If the same thing happens this time, Katla is likely to send up massive plumes of ash.

Nancy Graham, the director of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, called for new scientific standards to judge whether air space closure is necessary. Other speakers stressed the need for clear decision making if there is another eruption, calling for a ‘single European sky’ with air traffic in the whole of European airspace controlled by a single body.

While there isn’t much anyone can do about volcanic eruptions, it does make sense to check your travel insurance policy to see if it covers flight cancellations through volcanic activity.

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