Friday, 22 November 2013

Our Top Tips for when you’re Backpacking.

As this is written by True Traveller Insurance, this won’t contain information on where to find the best cheap hotel or the best meal in town, we’ll leave that to Lonely Planet! What we will do though is share some tips with you we’re picked up on our travels, and also some lessons some of our clients have learned when they’ve been travelling, and had to claim!

Travel Insurance obviously is an item when you’re travelling that no-one really wants to buy, but put into perspective, generally it costs you less than a cup of coffee a day. But if you lose all your belongings, become ill or have an accident, no one is going to offer you any financial assistance whatsoever aside from your travel insurance or your friends and family.

What to do before you leave

1. Go to the dentist. 
No one ever wants to go to the dentist, but if you’re away for more than a few weeks, you probably won’t want to see a dentist in a far flung area of the world. You’d be wishing you’d just gone to see your dentist before you left!

2. Scan your Passport Information page and your birth Certificate and e-mail it to yourself. 
If you do lose your passport abroad, getting the local Embassy to issue you with an Emergency Travel Document (ETD) is made an awful lot easier if you can print out copies of your documentation for them! Note for British Passport holders, you only get an ETD which is very restrictive on what it allows you to do, and is not the same thing as a new full British Passport. Getting a full new British Passport when you’re abroad takes many weeks to process, so, if you’re going through lots of different countries on your journey you may want to consider getting a second passport before you leave and get a family member to FedEx it to you should your original passport be lost or stolen.

3. Get a Pre-Paid currency card.
Getting one of these is very useful, as usually you get free withdrawals from cash machines throughout the world, rather than the 2% or more your bank will probably charge you. You can do all the transfers to it from the internet, and usually you get a secondary card just in case you lose your first one!

4. Make a note of important telephone numbers!
If you do lose your money and cards, you have to phone up all the card issuers to cancel your cards before you get scammed by the thieves. Remember you’re usually responsible for losses before you inform the financial institutions that your cards have gone, and it will save you an enormous amount of time if you have all the numbers you have to call tucked in an e-mail you sent yourself before you left home!

5. Get your Travel Insurance now.
Your travel insurance covers you for cancellation from the time you’ve bought it, and everything else comes into effect on the day you want your cover to start. So if you have an accident before your trip and you have to postpone it or even cancel, your insurance should pay out all those cancellation charges your travel agent will no doubt charge you.
You can get True Traveller Insurance once you’re already travelling, but we’re one of the very few who allows you to do this. Most travel policies are only available for you to buy before you start travelling.
Check your insurance will cover the activities you’re going to be doing on your trip. If you’re going to be doing some manual work like farming for example, most standard policies won’t cover that. So, check the small print!

How to look after your belongings

6. Don’t take anything of value
Pretty obvious really, but thieves won’t steal anything if they can’t get any money for it! If you do take your laptop with you and a very expensive camera, when you’re on the road really keep a very close eye on it, and be especially circumspect when getting on an off busses and trains, as that’s then the thieves strike!

7. Wear a money belt
When you’re travelling, put your passport, cash and cards in your money belt. No one will be able to steal them without you knowing. 

8. Don’t carry a lot of cash
There is no point in carrying more than $200 or so of cash at any one time. Just use your card and get more cash out of a cash machine.

9. Use the hotel safe
If there’s no safe in your room, there will be one in reception. Use it, and put your cash, cards and passport inside it, and your camera and laptop as well if you’re not using them. Then just go out in the day with a small amount of cash and one credit card.

10. Don’t put anything of value in your main rucksack
Use a day sack for your camera, laptop etc., and wear it on your front when travelling with your main rucksack.
True Traveller Backpacker Insurance

How to look after your well-being

11. Buy a Mosquito Net
If you’re in a malaria zone, use mosquito spray (buy it locally) but most important of all, use a mosquito net when sleeping. It’s a good idea to buy one before you travel from Amazon, as more often than not, mosquito nets in hostels have seen better days. Malaria is rarely fatal, but no drug is 100% effective against all the different strains. Prevention is better than cure!

12. Food and Drink
Always buy water from regular stores and check the seal! Buying bottled water off the street can leave you feeling very ill, as sometimes it’s just re-sealed by enterprising children looking to boost their income! Apart from fancy hotels and restaurants, avoid ice in drinks as well. Remember refrigeration overseas isn't up to our standards, so rather than eat meat which may be spoiled, go vegetarian for a few days!

13. Take a mini Medical Kit with you
You can buy these on the web in handy small bags, and they have plasters, antiseptic wipes, Paracetamol and bandages in them. If you do have a mishap, you’ll be pleased you bought it! And, if you do use something from it, don’t forget to replace it when you get the opportunity!

14. Don’t do anything you wouldn't do at home
Sounds strange, but when we go away we suddenly think we’re invincible! It may be due to the euphoria of travelling, maybe a few too many beers or peer pressure. Sure, if you go to Queenstown you’ll have a go at Bungee Jumping, but don’t jump into a river from a great height thinking it’ll be fun when you’re in Vietnam. The water may only be a few inches deep!

15. Avoid motorised Scooters
OK, you can’t avoid them totally, but the accident levels in Asia and South America are eye-wateringly high. Our travel insurance covers you if you ride a motorcycle up to 125cc and you wear a crash helmet, but do be careful, and be especially careful of motorcycle taxis. If you ride a motorcycle at home, you probably already know that if you fall off, you’re always the loser.

16. If you’re ill, go to a Doctor
If you've been ill for a few days, go to a Doctor. It’s better to do this than not go and then get admitted to hospital a week later. Ask your hotel/hostel for the name of a local Doctor or go to a medical clinic. True Traveller Insurance will pay for the costs if you have your insurance with us, as to be honest it’s cheaper to pay $200 for your Doctor, than maybe $2000 or more to a hospital a week later

If you keep to these tips, you will lessen any chances of illness and losses on your trip. And don’t forget to stick to them as well!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Trekking in Nepal and Helicopter Rescue

As well as arranging many trips to the Himalayas, whether in the Annapurna area or the Everest area, we also provide travel insurance as well. The usual question we get asked is "Does your insurance include helicopter rescue?", and the answer is yes. It would be pretty useless to have travel insurance for trekking in the Himalayas without helicopter rescue anyway, as if you've over 5000m in height and you have a fall and break a leg or something, it wouldn't me much fun getting all the way down the mountain!

Trekking past a holy shrine to Annapurna
On the way to Annapurna!
So that appears pretty straightforward, but not many people ask the right question, and that's "How do I get the helicopter if I have a fall?". And, that's the crucial question really, and one which we've been asked for so many times I don't know why we've never blogged about it before. As the trekking season is now getting in full swing in Nepal, now is as good a time as any.

Well, there are two ways you get the helicopter, and it all depends if you're trekking with an organised group, or you are doing your own thing.

If you're with an organised group, at the beginning of the trek you'll all be asked for details of your travel insurance, and also be asked if it includes helicopter rescue. The tour company will have copies of your insurances and make a note of the emergency numbers. Now, should you get into difficulty on your trek, the tour guides will contact their company office on their mobile telephone (if they're in range and the masts are all working!) or use a Sat Phone. They will ask their office to contact the Himalayan Rescue Service (HRS) who will in turn then liaise with your Insurance company who will, hopefully, agree to pay! We've had a number of rescues this year, and the price has jumped for helicopter rescue to around US$9,000! All of our clients have recovered well.

So, what happens if you're not trekking with a group, and just doing it with a small group of friends. Well, one of the main rules of high altitude trekking is to do it with at least two other people; the theory being that if someone gets injured, one stays with the injured party and one goes for help. Solo trekking is not recommended in Nepal, so much so that the Nepalese Government are thinking of insisting all solo trekkers go with a Government approved guide or sherpa. That law hasn't come in as yet, but solo trekking, especially at altitude, could well be viewed as reckless by a travel insurer.

Annapurna Range
Made it to the Annapurna Range!

So, you're trekking independently, who gets the helicopter? Well, your Embassy does. On your first day in Kathmandu, go to your embassy and register your travel insurance with them. The British Embassy is very understanding on this point, and is a very well run Embassy and understand trekking, helicopter rescue etc. in detail. Then, if you find yourself in trouble, you call the British Embassy and they'll sort out the helicopter by liaising with the HRS and your insurance company.

So the helicopter has been called out to me. How long will it take? Well, it really depends on where you are, at what altitude and how busy it is generally. The are a limited number of Eurocopters, the high altitude helicopters which can ascend to over 5000m, but generally you'll be waiting for about 24 hours. You may be lucky and get one in 8 to 12 hours, but don't expect to make that call and see the chopper coming round the mountain in 20 minutes as that won't happen!

That being said, with the thousands of tourists who trek in Nepal every year, the amount of helicopter rescues are tiny in comparison. You'll probably see the odd helicopter flying around, but the chances of you needing one is very small indeed!

So, that's how it works! Make sure your travel insurance will actually allow you to trek at altitude and pay for helicopter rescues though! A lot don't, so check the small print.

Enjoy Nepal!

Friday, 10 August 2012

Trekking Insurance

We get loads of queries every day about Trekking Insurance, and we're not that sure why really!

With True Traveller Insurance, all of our policies are valid for trekking. The standard policy allows trekking up to 2000 metres, but with the Adventure Pack added on, you have the cover to go trekking to any altitude whatsoever. High Altitude Trekking is not a problem!

It's pretty easy to apply on-line to take out your insurance as well; just have a look at our video which shows you just how easy it is:

So whether you're going to take on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Everest Base Camp or the Annapurna Range in Nepal, the Inca Trail in Peru, you have have confidence that you have excellent cover should something go wrong.

We hope it doesn't of course. If you need trekking insurance, come along to the True Traveller Insurance website and get covered today!

Friday, 8 June 2012

Travel Insurance when already abroad

Getting travel insurance arranged when you're already abroad is a problem. For some reason, most insurance companies won't touch you, but with True Traveller Insurance, getting cover when you're already overseas isn't a problem.

Basically, insurance companies are worried that you've purposely not taken out insurance to save yourself some money, but then when you're away, something happens and you need insurance after the fact. Well, we're no different in that respect. Basically, if you've already lost your camera, or have been involved in an accident, we won't cover you either. Our policy is only available if nothing has happened, or be known to about to happen, that could lead to a possible claim. That's not actually particularly unreasonable anyway really!

What our cover is designed for is the fact that you've decided to extend your holiday, or that you may have been abroad for a period of time and need cover for your trip home, or that you simply forgot to get your insurance before you left! We get loads of Brits and Europeans who have been in Australia for a period of time, and need cover to get them back through Asia or South America to get back home. That, we have no problem with at all!

Have a look at our YouTube Video so see how easy it is to arrange your cover on the road.

Whatever you do, being a travel company and arranging our own travel Insurance, underwritten by the massive ACE Europe Insurance Company, that you have an enjoyable and safe travelling experience!

If you're already travelling and need travel insurance, just click here to arrange cover now.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

New set of FAQ's for the True Traveller Insurance website

We're still getting a lot of questions about our Travel Insurance and will shortly be putting up some Quick FAQ's on our website. But to make sure it all gets out there, we've decided to put the same ones on this blog as well! So, here goes!

Please note our Single Trip (True Adventure & True Traveller) and Backpacker (True Value) Policies are valid for One Way Travel.

When will the insurance expire?
Your insurance will expire either at the end of the period of insurance you purchase, within 24 hours from the time you first return back to your Home Country or when you arrive at your final destination. By your final destination, we mean where you will reside at when you reach your destination country. So if you are taking a one way insurance to cover you to go to Wagga Wagga, your insurance will expire when you get to Wagga Wagga, not the port of entry in Australia.
I don’t have a final destination, and will be backpacking and don’t have return tickets?
In that instance then, your insurance will continue until the end of the period of insurance you purchased, or in the case where you do take up permanent residence somewhere when you cease travelling and have obtained residency.
I’m Australian living in Europe and am going back home. Can I take out your insurance?
Yes. In the very unlikely case that you become very sick and require medical emergency repatriation you may be taken to Australia, unless on medical advice where it would be more prudent to bring you back to your original country, i.e. you leave London and become ill in France for example. The cost of medical emergency repatriation is always subject to the appropriate premium having been paid and the costs are limited to the equivalent costs you would have incurred had you been brought back your original trip departure point within Europe.

To what altitude can I trek to?
On the standard cover, you are limited to trekking at a maximum altitude of 2,000 meters. If you take out the “Adventure Pack” with your policy, the altitude is only limited to your fitness and imagination; there is no fixed upper limit. So trekking on recognized routes to EBC, Island Peak etc. in Nepal, the Inca Trail in Peru and Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is all covered subject to the standard policy terms. However, if trekking above the snow line we recommend wearing crampons and using ropes to be tethered together. If you are not trekking in a group with an appropriate guide, then we recommend that cover is restricted to groups of no less than 3 people in possession of a working 2 way communication device such as a working mobile. Please note there is no cover if trekking against local authority advice.
Does your insurance cover Helicopter Rescue in Nepal?
If confirmed as being medically necessary, this insurance will reimburse the cost of medical emergency repatriation by the Himalayan Rescue Association. Always contact the 24 medical emergency helpline to obtain authorization for any costs you are likely to incur.
Does this insurance cover climbing?
Whilst climbing is not covered, trekking at altitude on recognized routes using fixed ropes accompanied by guides, like Island Peak, is covered subject to the standard policy terms. However this insurance will not cover you for “Free Climb”, “Ice Climbing” or any vertical rock face climbing where ropes, anchors and other specialised equipment is used.

What is covered?
On the standard policy, there is cover for medical expenses you might incur as a result of occasional use of a motorbike under 125cc which has been rented to you or borrowed by you is covered, as long as you wear a crash helmet whilst riding the bike including as a passenger.
What does the Motorcycle Touring Option cover?
This option provides medical expenses cover whilst riding your own motorbike overseas, or again to rent or borrow a motorbike of any size. The restrictions are that you must hold a current motorcycle licence, the bike itself is to be fully insured and that you wear a crash helmet at all times whilst riding the bike. Competition riding, racing or participating in motorcycle events is strictly prohibited.

Can I take out this Insurance if I’m already abroad?
If you are normally a resident of the UK or Europe (excluding Switzerland, Belarus, Montenegro and the Ukraine) and your insurance has run out, you may take out cover online with us. This is on the understanding that nothing has occurred at the time of taking out the cover which has led to a claim or may lead to a potential claim. Obviously, this insurance will not pay for your belongings if you’ve already lost them, medical bills if you’ve already incurred them or any other events known to exist at the time of arranging cover which might give rise to a subsequent claim. There is no 14 day cooling off period when already traveling overseas.

If I take out Insurance and get ill, where will I get hospitalised?
In the unlikely event of this happening, you will be repatriated back to your home country as long as the appropriate geographic premium has been paid and it has been agreed by the 24 hour medical emergency assistance helpline.

Do you have minimum residency requirements?
No. If you are, for example, a British Passport holder and have right of abode in the UK, we are not concerned as to how many months in the past year you have been in the UK provided at the time of arranging this insurance you have a UK residential address.

Can I ski “off-piste”?
Yes. However, you will only be insured for random “off-piste” skiing if you are with a qualified instructor or in a group of 3 persons or more in possession of a working communication device. Note no cover applies for any winter sports activities if against local authority advice.
What am I not covered for with the Winter Sports Option?
This insurance will not cover you if you participate in ski racing, ski-jumping, ice hockey, or use bobs sleighs of skeletons.

Working Abroad

Can I work/volunteer?
If you take out the “Adventure Pack”, you can undertake work of any kind, including Volunteer Work, on your travels and be covered for any necessary medical costs you may incur.
Can I do “manual work”?
If the entire object of your trip is to take up a manual work job abroad, for example, working on a building site in China, then that is termed as “work of a predominately manual nature” and is one of the exclusions of this insurance. However, if you are doing some volunteer work, or WWOOFing, then some manual work will be expected as part of your normal duties, and as such this is covered subject to the standard terms of this insurance.
Will the Liability Cover be operable when I’m working?
No. Employers throughout the world have an obligation to insure their employees against liability when carrying out your normal duties as part of your job. However, if you are doing volunteer work overseas for an organisation, then in this case, you will be covered under the Personal Liability section should no other insurance or indemnity be available.

Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

Do I have to tell you if I have a Pre-Existing Medical Condition?
Yes. If you fail to tell the medical screening helpline and obtain written agreement of the additional cover for your medical condition and then make a claim against the condition, the likelihood is that the claim will not be paid.
What are the medical conditions?
a)      Any respiratory condition (relating to the lungs or breathing), heart condition, stroke, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, allergy, or cancer for which you (or any other person not necessarily travelling but upon whom travel depends such as a Close Relative) have ever received treatment (including surgery, tests or investigations by your doctor or a consultant/specialist, or prescribed drugs/medication).
b)      Any Medical Condition for which you (or any other person not necessarily travelling but upon whom travel depends such as a Close Relative) have received surgery, in-patient treatment or investigations in a hospital or clinic within the last twelve months, or for which you are taking prescribed drugs/medication.
What do I do to get the OK?
You telephone our Medical Screening Helpline on 0844-826 2686 and tell them you want to take out True Traveller Insurance and explain to them the condition you, or your relative has. They will give you one of 3 replies.
a)      They will confirm cover for the disclosed condition with no additional premium payable.
b)      They will confirm cover for the disclosed condition for an additional premium which you pay to the medical helpline directly and they will send you an endorsement to the policy, or
c)       They will not cover the condition at all, in which case should a claim be made for that medical condition this insurance will not meet any claim relating to the excluded medical condition.
Again, in the case of b), should you elect not to pay the additional premium, once again cover for the medical condition in question will be excluded.

Please Note: The above FAQ’s are subject to the full policy terms and conditions which we suggest you read to ensure you are happy with the cover you elect to arrange.

And, just to show how easy it is to apply for your insurance online, just quickly check out this video!

Happy and safe travelling to you all!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Will your Travel Insurance actually cover you?

The Chorley Guardian has published a very sad story about a young traveller who suffered very bad injuries while riding a Quad Bike in Australia in December. Unfortunately she isn't covered by the Travel Insurance she took out as it didn't cover Quad Biking.

You wouldn't think that riding Quad Bikes was particularly dangerous, but of course when you're on them you get the feeling of being invincible, and probably start using them in a manner in which they were not designed for. We remember Ozzy Osbourne almost died back in 2003 when he fell off his Quad Bike at his home in Buckinghamshire.

On our True Value Backpacker Insurance, if you take out the "Adventure Pack" you are covered for 50 adventurous activities, on top of the 63 activities we cover automatically, and Quad Biking is included in this list. The price of the Adventure Pack is £24. Also included in the Adventure Pack is trekking over 2000 metres to any altitude, Scuba Diving to 40 metres, Tandem Sky Diving and Work of any kind, including volunteer work.

To find out how easy it is to apply online for your insurance, click here for our Video, and make sure you get covered today.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Backpacker Travel Insurance

Well, after about a month of launching our own dedicated website for Travel Insurance, in response to many requests to do so, the response has been somewhat overwhelming!

Backpacker on his way!
We are still getting some questions however, which we've tried to answer on the FAQ part of the website, and the most common questions we're getting are:
1. Can I work whilst on my travels? The answer is YES! If you take out any of our policies, the "Adventure Pack" will cover you for any sort of work you undertake on your travels, including Volunteer work!
2. Can I take out Insurance if I've already left? Again the answer is YES. If you forgot to take out insurance before you left the UK, you can take out cover online, but obviously if something has already happened which may lead to a claim, that claim will not be met (pretty obviously but still needs to be said!). We have had people taking out insurance from Nepal, Malaysia, Australia and Caracas in the past few days.
3. Will your insurance cover Helicopter Evacuation in Nepal? Again, the answer here is YES. If you become injured and need a helicopter to take you to hospital in Kathmandu, our insurance will cover the cost of this.
4. Do I have to pay out and then wait for the insurance to pay me back? The answer here is No. If you get hospitalised, the Medical Emergency Service deals directly with the hospital and settles all the bills with them. If you lose something of low value along the way, you may elect to wait until you return home to claim for it (but don't leave it too long!), but you can still put in your claim along the way.

Our main business is still of course arranging adventure holidays, but for adventure travel insurance, is still the way to go!

We hope you all enjoy safe and happy travelling in 2012!