The relatively late Easter means that children will no sooner have returned to school than we will be starting to think about the summer break. Many of us have booked our holidays and are already dreaming of beaches and blue skies. But once the flights and accommodation are sorted, we tend to leave the rest of the planning until the last minute. And that may be costing us.
The advice from insurance experts is that travel insurance should either be put in place as soon as the holiday is booked or else purchased on an annual ‘multi-trip’ basis. But a recent internal customer study conducted by insurance sales website Insuremyholiday.ie found that 40% of Irish holiday makers instead arranged cover just before they travelled.
Deirdre McCarthy of Insuremyholiday.ie says that is a bad idea. “Industry data reveals that ‘cancellation of travel’ is one of the primary reasons for travel insurance claims — accounting for approximately 50% of claims. The cancellation could occur at any stage before the person is due to travel. If you leave it to the last minute to put cover in place then you run the risk of not having any financial protection to fall back on, should you need to cancel your trip.
“Looking at our internal database we can see that the majority of travellers leave it from anywhere between one month to one day before travel to take out insurance — with some actually purchasing insurance when they’re in the airport.
“They are paying for a policy which includes travel cancellation cover from the moment they booked the holiday, which was probably months ago, but miss out on this essential element.”
Your airline or tour operator may offer you cover when booking, but it is worth shopping around to get a better deal. And if you are likely to be abroad more than once in the year, look at a multi-trip policy.
If you are travelling in Europe you should also get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which you can get for free at www.hse.ie. It entitles you to healthcare through the public system in all EU countries and Switzerland. Each family member needs their own card.
A second area where it pays to book well ahead is car hire. Not only will you get a better price if you book in advance, you will also be able to choose exactly the car you want. If you leave it to organise when you arrive you will have to take whatever you can get from the desk, which may be far more expensive.
Martin Heap, corporate travel consultant with Corporate Travel Management, lists a few things to watch for when booking a car.
“Check how close to the airport the car is, If you have lots of luggage or young children a shuttle bus ride just adds stress. Check their fuel policy, ‘full to full’ is best for the motorist as you just top up the tank before you hand the car back.
“Have a credit card available in the name of the person who booked, a debit card may not be acceptable.”
The basic insurance policy included with a car rental comes with a high excess and you will be offered additional insurance to cover that excess at the desk. But it will be expensive; you can buy excess cover policies online for much less. You can choose cover per day that you are away or get annual cover if you plan on taking more than one holiday.
Mr Heap identifies other potential issues travellers should get sorted sooner rather than later.
“If you are taking check-in bags make sure you have paid online beforehand.
“Find out if you need any vaccinations or visas for your chosen destination. For the USA people need to do the ESTA visa waiver and also for Canada now (called ETA).”
He also advised letting your credit card provider know you will be away so they do not block your card if they see purchases from a foreign country.
And last but not least: “Check all passports. Not just that they are in date but even close to running out as quite a few countries need you to have six months on your passport.”
DEAL OF THE WEEK
Most of us know that sinking feeling when a car engine starts to sputter or warning lights start flashing, leaving us stranded on the side of the road. But despite this, research shows three out of five motorists do not have breakdown cover. Many of us think our insurance includes
Many of us think our insurance includes cover, but as costs spiral many benefits are reduced and we may not have the level of breakdown assistance we think we do. easytrip Ireland has launched a breakdown service called easyAssist. The recovery and assistance service is available from €3.99 per month.
They are partnering with breakdown assistance and recovery specialists nationwide to offers motorists with cars and small vans assistance from professionals and suggest as many as 80% of breakdowns can be resolved on the spot. The service provides assistance on scenarios including battery charge, punctures, refuelling, wheel change, home start assist and continuation of journey.