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Your Coronavirus Travel Questions Answered

You’ve spent months looking forward to your trip. Flights, accommodation and excursions have been booked and paid for. You’re just about to start packing your bags, restocking on sunblock and plumping your neck pillow, when… Covid-19 brings international travel to an unplanned, unavoidable, screeching halt. So, what now? While serious, the situation may not be as dire as it seems, and may not necessarily entail the cancellation of your trip in its entirety. Here’s the rundown of your rights as a traveller, how to navigate the cancellation and refund process, as well as the answers to some of the most common queries travellers are currently facing.

Countries across the globe have been implementing their own travel policies and preventative measures. It’s important to pay attention to official updates, as these could impact the validity of your travel insurance policies if your actions do not align with governmental mandates. Many individual airlines carry their own set of travellers rights, so reading the fine print on your plane ticket is imperative. Also, be sure to understand the official differences between essential and nonessential travel.

Most countries have advised holidaymakers to reconsider nonessential travel, however, few have initiated a zero-travel policy. While the advisory is not to be taken lightly, technically you can still travel to non-affected areas who are still receiving international visitors. That said, it is very important to stay as up to date as possible on any changes to restrictions, most of which are effective without notice, and to observe strict preventative measures while abroad, such as frequent hand washing and avoiding large crowds or public spaces when possible. Many countries have closed borders to international travellers, but generally, borders have remained open to returning citizens and permanent residents. There is the possibility of quarantine upon re-entry, however, depending on countries visited and length of stay.

Destinations to be avoided and high, medium and low-risk areas fluctuate daily, so be sure to check the status of countries you’ll be visiting, as well as those you may be stopping over in. While many airlines are cancelling flights, particularly from Asia and Europe, there is also a duty carried by service providers to ensure a passenger’s safe return to their home country or country of origin should the passenger not be eligible for a flight refund.

In terms of cancellation, if your government has not issued an official warning for the area to which you plan to travel, then a refund is highly unlikely. Airbnb has put an Extenuating Circumstances policy in place allowing any accommodation provider or customer to cancel reservations between 14 March and 14 April 2020 for any reason without penalty. 86% of cancellations by guests in the past month were able to receive full refunds, however, it is advised that you speak directly with an Airbnb host if you plan to cancel and request a refund.

If you are hesitant to cancel your trip, many airlines, hotels and other facilities are allowing free rebookings should they be shut down as a result of the outbreak. Travel insurers are advising customers to first check directly with airlines and accommodation providers regarding refunds and rebooking, as travel insurance itself rarely accounts for cancellation costs in full.

Overall, the global situation is tenuous, uncertain and subject to drastic and often rapid change in both extent and official policy. As always in times of crisis, the most important weapon is information. Be sure to be attentive to official announcements from both local and international authorities, and consult the World Health Organisation for updates on the spread of COVID-19 and suggested precautions. Most importantly, stay safe and be kind to one another!

Sources: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-51615412, https://www.nytimes.com/article/coronavirus-travel-questions-advice.html, https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnscottlewinski/2020/03/16/airbnb-responds-to-coronavirus-with-expanded-cancellation-policy/#77422b645522

B4i.travel simplifies your communication needs when travelling and takes the risk out of high international roaming costs. We offer a range of pre-loaded, pre-activated and pre-registered world travel SIM cards so you’ll be connected when you arrive in the country you are visiting. Tourists, students and businessmen have been talking like a local in South Africa, USA, Europe with B4I.travel since 2010. It’s time to ‘Explore your world’.

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The Importance of Travel Insurance

Anyone watching events with Thomas Cook unfolding will realize why travel insurance is an essential part of travel. Thomas Cook is over 178 years old – it’s a massive brand in international travel, tours, and tourism.

Indications are over 600 000 people including 150 000 British citizens who are out on holiday and will need to be repatriated. Over 1 million flights and flight hotel packages booked have been booked for future travels.

Thomas Cook Plane in Flight

In this instance, Thomas Cook is a member of ATOL – Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing – a UK Civil Aviation Authority scheme offering customers financial protection from a member tour operator. So, customers and tour partners are protected.

ATOL does have its limitations though. It is only required for UK travel and it only covers travel companies that offer packaged holidays and flights. If you buy directly from an airline or, if you book a flights-only trip or even a cruise, you may not be covered.

ATOL – Logo

Thomas Cook is not alone in its woes, in recent years companies like Monarch, Primeria Air, WOW Air, XL Leisure Group, Niki Air and dozens more have filed for bankruptcy.

Flights and accommodations are not the only arguments for comprehensive travel insurance. Holiday-makers are often far more active; sightseeing, doing tours, trips, hikes and even adventure activities putting them at higher risk of accidents and injuries.

Picture: pexel.com

A holiday is all about relaxing and exploring and it is easy to let your guard down. Even in the safest cities, tourist hot spots are notorious for scammers, pickpocketers and credit-card skimmers.

So, b4i.travel has partnered with a global Travel Insurance provider, World Nomads to offer insurance cover against:

Adventure Activities

Designed to help you explore your boundaries

Medical Repatriation

I’m all banged up overseas. How do I get home?

Terrorism

How will you help if I get caught up in a terrorist attack?

Travel Accidents

I’m hurt. How do I get help?

Lost or Delayed Baggage

My gear has gone. How can you help?

Schengen Area – Multi-Country European Trip

I am heading to multiple European countries. Can you help?

Trip Cancellations

I need to cancel my trip. Am I covered?

Travel Health

Travel Insurance isn’t health insurance. Find out why. Book Travel Insurance with B4i.travel.

Death Overseas

How will you get my body home?

Stolen Credit Cards

Someone’s snatched my plastic. Can I get a replacement?

Natural Disasters

If disaster strikes, what if I’m injured or unable to travel?

Stolen Passports

Someone has stolen my passport. Help!

Delayed Baggage

Where did my bags go? Will insurance cover that?

Overseas Emergency Medical

I’m sick or injured overseas. How do I get help?

Overseas Emergency Dental

Ouch, my teeth hurt! Will my insurance cover the dentist’s bill?

Assault

How will you help me if I get attacked?

Nobody wants to think about all the things that could go wrong on their trip, but things can and do happen. So be prepared. Not all travel insurance is equal. It is essential you understand what you are getting. For a hassle-free, obligation free quote, click here

Source:

https://www.thesun.co.uk/travel/2533048/holiday-atol-protection-explained/

https://www.caa.co.uk/ATOL-protection/Consumers/About-ATOL/

https://www.aol.com/article/finance/2019/09/23/thomas-cook-collapses-why-and-what-happens-now/23817811/

B4i.travel simplifies your communication needs when travelling and takes the risk out of high international roaming costs. We offer a range of pre-loaded, pre-activated and pre-registered travel SIM cards so you’ll be connected when you arrive in the country you are visiting. Tourists, students and businessmen have been “talking like a local” in South Africa, USA, Europe with B4I.travel since 2010. We have partnered with some of the worlds biggest car rental, flight bookings, travel experiences and travel insurance companies. Getting you set up and ready to go – before you travel. It’s time to ‘Explore your world with us’.