Buying Travel Insurance? Then Read This Article

Travel insurance is not normally top of the priority list when planning holidays but it should be. Tour companies know that, and that’s why they normally insist travellers have insurance. Travel insurance typically covers cancellation and curtailment, personal liability, personal possessions, injury & illness and emergency assistance.

The most significant insured risk is the medical one. If you have a serious medical emergency whilst abroad, valid travel insurance could literally be the difference between life & death, and will cover the assistance costs – an air ambulance back to the UK from the East Coast of the USA could set you back £50,000 otherwise. Without travel insurance and faced with an emergency, your only option would be to contact the nearest UK consulate or embassy who will no doubt help as best they can, but will not pay for assistance.

Like most things in life you tend to get what you pay for with travel insurance, and the low cost options sometimes have limitations. Apart from the specifics of the cover, the variables that determine the price are the number of days and geography covered, the number of people on the policy and their age.

Some basics to consider when buying a policy….

Travel insurance is sold as an annual policy or single trip. If you are going abroad more than once a year then an annual policy may work out cheaper. If you insure a single trip, take the policy out as soon as you have committed to the cost so that you have cancellation cover immediately.

Typically three options are offered for geographic cover: Europe, Worldwide excluding USA & Canada, and Worldwide including USA & Canada, the latter, with widest coverage, being the most expensive. Remember though, the further away from home you are, the more expensive emergency costs are likely to be, so the more important it is to have travel insurance.

Individual, couples and family policies are normally offered as standard. Couples and family policies will normally be cheaper on a per head basis. Family policies typically cover two adults and their children, but they do not normally provide cover for minors travelling on their own.

The cost of travel insurance increases with age. Standard travel insurance policies would typically have an age cap of between 70 & 80, but it would be unusual for the older traveller not to be able to get insurance if they shop around. There are a number of insurers who offer travel insurance for the older travellers at a price that reflects the increased risk. That said, travel insurance for the older traveller with significant pre-existing medical conditions can get very expensive.

Always consider the policy exclusions. Cover for skiing is normally an extra. Standard annual policies typically provide a limited number of days cover in a year – if you need more, there are specialist policies that provide this. Undeclared pre-existing medical conditions are not normally covered, neither are alcohol or drug related medical costs.

And when you travel…..

Take a copy of your policy certificate with you and the travel insurer telephone numbers. The insurer may have three different numbers for customer services, claims and 24 hour assistance. If your travelling in Europe take your EHIC card.

In the event of a medical emergency, contact the 24 hour assistance number who will advise on a course of action. If you act unilaterally and without insurer authorisation, the assistance costs incurred may not be insured. In cases of theft, always report it to the local police and get a crime reference number or equivalent and call the insurer claims number as soon as possible. As a general rule, inform the insurer as soon as possible in the event of any potential claim to confirm cover and give the insurer the opportunity to mitigate the costs of the claim.

Travel Insurance for Older Travellers and Pre-Existing Conditions

Young people seeking to purchase travel insurance do not have the worry of increased premiums that face many older travellers. Unfortunately, it is an unavoidable fact of life that many older travellers have pre-existing medical conditions, and consequently have to pay more for travel insurance.

The need for higher premiums is not because insurers have anything against older people, but because the reality is that older travellers are more likely to make claims on their travel insurance for health-related problems.

There are several factors at work:

Older people tend to have more disposal income and free time and therefore can afford to take more trips and holidays. Unfortunately, this translates to more claims for emergency medical care for accidents and illnesses abroad.

A larger number of older people than ever before are travelling long distances. They are statistically more likely to claim on their travel insurance for emergency medical care – and the costs can be astronomical. This is particularly true if medical problems arise in destinations like the United States where medical treatment is extremely expensive. Consequently, insurers have to make up for the losses, and it inevitably means higher premiums for everyone – but especially for older people travelling to the U.S.

The cost of repatriating someone by air ambulance from far-flung destinations such as Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Canada and the United States is extremely costly (up to £50,000 or more).

In remote destinations of the world the medical facilities may not be adequate to treat serious illnesses or injuries,making it necessary to transport the patient to a neighbouring country for treatment before repatriation. Again, all very costly.

Frequent travellers who faithfully renew their travel insurance policy with the same company each year may find there is a sudden jump in the premium. They may have crossed an age threshold that they were not aware was imminent and have to decide whether to stay loyal to their trusted company, or shop around elsewhere to find a better deal.

Insurance premiums for older travellers vary from company to company, as far as age ranges and premiums. If pre-existing medical conditions are an issue there may be an additional charge to cover a certain condition, or the insurance may be issued to exclude any claims related to that condition. Some may have specific cut-off ages for any type of travel insurance and some may increase the premium and/or excess for certain age groups.

Comparison sites may be a way for an older traveller to search for a cheaper quote, but remember that not all insurers choose to be listed on the comparison sites and you may find a cheaper price by checking elsewhere. If you do opt for a cheap policy on one of these sites, always check the levels of cover – especially for medical care. A very cheap quote may mean that the levels of cover have been cut, or the excess (the amount you pay towards a claim) has been raised to compensate for the low price

If you are one out of the five people in the UK that does not purchase travel insurance, consider whether you are in denial about the potential financial ruin you – or your family – could face. This is especially true if injury or illness should strike when you are halfway round the world. Contrary to the mistaken belief held by many, your consulate or embassy does not cover these costs and, without insurance, it is up to the affected person or their nearest and dearest to come up with the money!

Many travellers are under the impression that insurers try to wriggle out of paying claims and so it is not worth having insurance. This is a very unwise attitude as insurance policies need to have sensible terms and conditions. Ultimately it is up to the purchaser to ensure they purchase the right insurance for their needs, and also understand what is and is not covered. The truth is that insurers pay out huge amounts in claims – and the higher the claims the more the premiums are inevitably pushed up for travellers in all age groups.

Parents with grown children leaving on round-the-world trips or gap year adventures could save themselves a headache by purchasing travel insurance as a leaving gift, to ensure that these vulnerable young people are covered. A Backpacker or long-stay policy is very affordable for a young person and most provide basic cover for the very important medical, liability and legal costs. Check that cover is included for all their planned activities. If there is any possibility they may participate in skiing or snowboarding or other winter sports why not pay a bit extra to have this added to the policy, just in case.

(For those who think that cheap Backpacker policies are only available to teenagers or those in their twenties, it may be a revelation to know that many companies offer policies that are valid for travellers up to their late forties in age).

For travellers within the EU it is important to obtain the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), as this will pick up most of the cost of emergency medical care in participating countries. However, it is important to also have travel insurance to pick up costs that are not covered under the EHIC – including very expensive medical repatriation, if this becomes necessary.

When purchasing insurance it is important to check that the policy includes adequate cover for emergency medical care and medical repatriation. It is widely believed that the minimum should be £2,000,000, but obviously higher levels are better – especially for Worldwide travel. Medical cover up to £5,000,000 or even £10,000,000 would be preferable – especially for Worldwide cover – and should be enough to cover just about any serious medical problem.

Paying a higher premium for travel insurance because you are in an older age group is an unfortunate fact of life. However, the extra cost is worth it for the peace of mind it provides. No matter what age you are, the important thing is that you feel free to enjoy foreign travel for as long as you want to and are able to!

5 Things You Need to Know About Business Phone Systems and What to Look For

Before you take on the task of researching the best business phone systems out there, here are a few general things you need to know to help you make the best decision for your business communication needs.

1. Premise-based PBX vs. Hosted PBX

For the most part, there are two types of PBX business phone systems: Premise and Hosted. A premise-based business phone system requires clunky equipment to be stored within your office and is usually seen in larger enterprises. Small business owners are recommended to use hosted business phone systems for seamless expansion and cost efficiency.

2. Expensive Equipment is Not Always Necessary

One way your PBX business phone systems save you money is by not requiring you to make expensive purchases on hardware. With BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), you can use your mobile phone or keep using your existing hardware without any issues. Wiring and cabling is also not necessary as hosted PBX business phone systems are powered using your internet connection.

3. It Can Boost Productivity and Help Retain Customers

You won’t have to worry about letting a message slip through the cracks. Many business phone systems have features in place like call continuity and voicemail to email to ensure you always stay on top of your messages. Cloud receptionist features like auto attendant are also available so you can offer an overall better customer experience and keep your buyers satisfied.

4. Promotes Workspace Flexibility

Modern systems provide users with the freedom to work from anywhere. These days, you don’t need to have an office to have a business phone system; all you need is a reliable internet connection and electricity (unless you’re using a virtual PBX and operating straight from your cell phone). It’s also easy to expand your team and add extensions, as well as move from one location to another with an easy plug and play solution.

As you search for business phone systems, you will come across providers ranging from those that have been around for decades and some that have sprouted in the last few years. Although we praise experience, it may not always be best to choose a provider solely on their shelf life. Go with a provider that focuses their efforts on business solutions (some providers go as far to make focus medium-sized and small businesses their main focus) to ensure that your business communication needs are being met. Check out their services and decide whether or not they have what your business needs.

5. Not All Business Phone Systems Are Created Equal

How A PBX Phone System Can Benefit Your Business
Don’t be fooled by the jargon and heavily technical literature you may find on PBX systems. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be tech-savvy to learn how to operate a PBX system. If you’re purchasing hardware from a provider, you will most likely receive a pre-configured phone that is ready to use as soon as it arrives. This makes it possible to just plug in the device and start making calls with barely any set up. Cabling and wiring is not necessary with a hosted PBX system so installation fees and downtime is not something you would have to worry about.

All of these benefits lead to one thing: more savings. Without set up costs or expensive hardware, you can use the time and money you’re saving and invest it back into your business. For even more savings, you can choose a virtual PBX phone system that allows you to run your business from your mobile phone using your business phone number. It’s the simplicity and professionalism many entrepreneurs look for without the cost of a major PBX phone system provider.

Small Business Phone System Features to Look Out For
If you’re looking for any limitation that PBX business phone systems bring, it would be that they rely on an internet connection to function. As long as you’re using a reliable internet provider your system will stay up and running; however, many PBX business phone systems offer the ability to forward your calls to an external device, like your smartphone. It’s an added security feature that gives business owners peace of mind knowing that they won’t miss an opportunity regardless of unexpected circumstances. Just like this simple call forwarding feature, there are many services within a small business phone system that can save your business.

Call recording is a great way to keep voice records, just be sure to follow your state’s laws in regards to voice recording. It comes in handy with industries like travel agencies and medical offices when there is miscommunication or an incident regarding an exchange of information over the phone. It’s a way to meet compliance standards for certain industries and has been a crucial tool for business owners who rely on record-keeping for accountability and training purposes.

You can easily streamline your customer’s calling experience with an automated attendant and customized caller menu. These two features work together to give your caller relevant information, like new promotions or upcoming changes to your office hours, and direct them to the people they need to speak with. Your callers will appreciate the updates and their positive experience will encourage them to recommend your service to others.

Overall, keep it simple. You might not need all the bells and whistles a major provider might offer, so be sure to understand your specific business communication needs. Look for business phone systems that reduce the headaches, not add to it.

Alicia Sandino has been working in the virtual phone service industry for several years providing insights on the benefits of business phones.