• Travel Insurance Blog

  • Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The recent spate of events at US embassies could be the clincher that will give US Homeland Security more reason to demand additional security on air travel. In an initial meeting with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) held in Montreal a few days ago, Janet Napolitano, US Homeland Security Secretary delivered the country’s “wish list.”

Napolitano has 5 urgent air travel priorities that she said the ICAO must consider for formal implementation among all 190 member countries in the scheduled October council caucus.  The 5 high priority requests include upgrade of standards and practices for mail screening and air freight, a universal audit program, higher definition for security rules on sea, air, and land borders. In addition, she requested for a complimentary system of immigrant travel, aviation security and regulatory offices, and customs.  She further added that ICAO should consider a smart travel card that would replace passports.

Part of the history of this series of request comes on the heels of the bombings in December 2009 where a bomber was caught before he could detonate the bomb hidden in his underwear. In fact, the delay in detonating the bomb was caused by a problem in the making of the homemade bomb. This means that it could have gone off if the bomber did not make a mistake in creating his improvised bomb. He even was able to travel over 3 continents on a Delta flight to Detroit before getting caught.

Napolitano also stressed that privacy should be secondary to safety. She says, “We recognize the value of privacy. But that can be counter-balanced as well by the simple exchange of information that is in the possession of airlines.”

Canada has already amended its Aeronautics Act and now allows its airline carriers to share flight and passenger information whenever necessary in trips to the U.S. In short, Canada has agreed to conform to the security systems of US Homeland Security.

Expected reactions from Venezuela and the EU were to dismiss the request and opt for a collaborative system rather than conforming to US standards. Elsa Gutierrez, Minister of Air and Aquatic Transportation in Venezuela says, “Imposing solutions on others creates bigger problems.” Nonetheless she and other protesting EU countries agreed to share passenger information, just like Canada.

In 2011, the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) released the results of their study that one out of every 5 British travelers and one in three Irish travelers opt out on travel insurance. They believe that their medical coverage will include international incidents.

Just this month, September 2012, a new study on Canadian travel reveals that one in 3 also feel they do not need travel insurance while traveling. But they will make sure that if they travel by land, they have car insurance. More than 80% of Canadians would rather spend on activities they can do while traveling than paying for travel insurance. Strangely, more than 40% have admitted to traveling alone and 15% admit to traveling off season when weather can be unpredictable. These results come from an American Express survey.

And yet, the number of travel problems is on the rise. Pre-departure problems can begin even before you leave the house like sickness, bad weather, or a family or work-related problem. Once you get to the airport, you face problems like cancellations, delays, work strikes, and loss of luggage, among others. Did you know that there were almost 2 million luggage blunders committed at the airports in the U.S. in 2011 along?

Upon your reaching your destination, you have another set of potential woes to face. According to ABTA, the top 3 travel insurance claims worldwide are: lost reservations, double bookings, and poor quality of accommodations a.k.a. cleanliness. There are also medical problems like cramps, fever, flu, diarrhea, and accidents like tripping, falling, or getting bitten by an animal. Let’s not forget human intervention to cause you to lose your travel documents, money, keys, gadgets, etc.
Traveling can be a lot of fun but not if you’re going to be looking over your shoulder, glaring at every stranger as a potential criminal, or worried sick you might lose something. Some things you really can’t avoid but have to deal with.

With a long holiday weekend coming up, many people are either thrilled at the extra holiday (with pay) or bothered that they can’t enjoy like they would normally do. There have been so many challenges in the past months and years, the most recent being the Hurricane that is causing a lot of anxiety and damage to Louisiana.

Nonetheless, AAA is predicting more than 33 million Americans or people living in the US will be traveling at least 50 miles this weekend even with the high prices of gas. It’s good news because it represents an almost 3% increase in travel since 2007.

The season of “staycations” is getting old and people are just tired of not being able to enjoy life as they used to. This is also evidenced by the gas consumption which has remained steady in spite of the price increases. Some economists are saying that the shell-shock attitude is weaning off and many are getting used to living with a budget. It may also be due to the fact that the fuel prices have been increased gradually rather than in whopping spikes.

That being said, travelers are advised to be prepared for anything. It is no longer possible to just jump in your car and drive. You have to plan your trip so you don’t encounter unexpected expenses. For instance, plot the route you will be taking. Try to find out if it will be traffic and if there are alternative roads you can take. Gas consumption is higher with a stop-go kind of driving because you’re constantly pushing the gas pedal to accelerate from an idle position.

You should also update your travel and health insurance. Bring all home-made food so you can snack in the car instead of buying from convenience stores where the prices are generally higher.

With Labor Day just around the corner, many Americans and those who will be around the U.S. on the weekend prior to September 3 are starting to make their Labor Day plans. It’s going to be a long weekend since September 3 falls on a Monday.

Travel agencies, consultants, and insurance companies are beginning to feel the increase in sales as consumers start booking their plans. According to a sales manager for a travel consultancy firm, “In a perfect world, there would be no fire, flood, earthquake, thieves, or even any chance of getting knocked over by a busboy. But we don’t live in a perfect world.”

Here are some reasons why you need to plan to the last detail to avoid getting stressed on your holiday weekend:

1. If you are planning to take a flight out, you might want to get cancellation insurance. It’s the least you can do for yourself in case of a storm or work strike to make you feel better about the situation. Oh, and you could also get sick or be asked by your boss to do overtime which you can’t refuse if you want to keep your job.

2. Curtailment can happen which is when you need to cut short your vacation because of a sudden and unexpected event

3. Loss of luggage, documents, or peace of mind can be devastating. At the very least, it is disorienting

4. Labor Day is going to be a lot of fun with some partying and drinks. You could break a mirror, scratch the rental, or do some other kind of damage which you will be required to pay for. Don’t let this ruin your vacation. Get some personal liability protection.

5. Of course, you can’t expect a few pieces of paracetamol pills in your toiletry bag to solve all your medical woes. Also, if you have to go to a doctor or emergency room, it will cost you which is something you probably are not going to include in your weekend budget.

These are just a few reasons why making details plans for Labor Day weekend is going to make everything just fine.

Traveling around the U.S. just got more complicated this past week for Northeast travelers as summer ends and the commercial flights are delayed. It got so bad that many had to opt for the use of Amtrak to get to their destination.
The advantage of traveling on Amtrak is obvious since it was upgraded with high speed trains and online ticketing. Also, the hassle of security checks is not as stringent as those in the airports. The question is, what happens to airline tickets that were unused in favor of the speedier Amtrak? Anyone with travel insurance would be glad to know that there is an option for reimbursement of travel expenses under certain restrictions. Over the last few days, the number of flights that were delayed was unusually high. Many were stuck with nowhere to go because they didn’t have the foresight to get trip cancellation insurance.
According to Amtrak, the trip from Washington to New York and back increased by 75% since the year 2000. This is presumed to be those who have shifted from airline travel to the railway network. Aside from being cheaper, it is more relaxing and seemingly less risky. On the other hand, the trip from New York City to Boston was at 20% market share before 2001, and this has also increased by 54% steadily since then. This Northwest account is now the saving grace for Amtrak as the only part of the railway system that is earning.
A significant part of the attraction for passengers on Amtrak includes Wi-Fi, power outlets, use of mobile phones and the fact that travel time is not significantly longer. Passengers can work, enjoy games, and use their gadgets throughout the trip without encountering problems or issues with Amtrak.
If this trend keeps up, Amtrak estimates that the Northeast corridor will increase to a whopping 43.5 million passengers by the year 2040. As for the need to get travel insurance, check with your local state about the rules on No Fault insurance. In Michigan, trains are considered as a vehicle and fall under the No Fault insurance which means passengers and bystanders can get compensated for injuries caused by Amtrak.

The question is being raised once more about home court advantage now that Britain is winning Olympic medals left and right. Is this why Australia is complaining about its performance? Are travel and its effect on the athletes’ health not helping them perform as expected?
A study done by Professor Martin Schwellnus from South Africa’s University of Cape Town says that long distance travel can affect health by as much as 3 times. For athletes who don’t have to travel or have to travel far, they have the edge and better health.
In his study done in 2010 on rugby teams that participated in a 3 leg tournament spaced over a period of 4 months, there was a record of 469 cases of illness like skin infections, gastro-intestinal conditions, and respiratory illness. Of the 259 athletes that joined the tournament, 187 got sick. This emphasizes two prerequisites to international competition: the need for travel health insurance and advance preparation for changes in climate, playing conditions, jetlag, and other adjustments. In short, athletes should travel ahead of the tournament in order to get acclimatized properly.
More interesting than this result was the other big revelation that as long as international travel came after home court advantage, there were only about 15 cases of illnesses. And the farther the travel time was before a match away from home country, the higher the incidents of sickness. On the contrary though, once a team was traveling home to play a match, the cases of illnesses dropped to around 10 for every 1000 player dates which is the unit of time used in the study.
Thus, it isn’t the jet lag that causes the illness. Professor Schwellnus says the cause appears to be “adaption to foreign conditions.” These would be factors like food, pollution, humidity, exposure to new allergy triggers, germs, and temperature.

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