Overcrowded hotels, unsuitable transportation, marauding soldiers, a pregnant backpacker going into labour; we might think that Christmas travel chaos is a relatively new phenomenon, but a brief analysis of the Nativity Story reveals that all the signs were there 2,000 years ago.
Just as the three kings journeyed across the Middle East bearing expensive gifts, millions of Britons set off to visit loved ones in present-packed cars or fly abroad in search of festive sunshine, making Christmas one of the busiest travel times of the year.
With so many travellers heading for their trains, planes and automobiles, we'd like to offer you a seasonal reminder to check your travel insurance and make sure any shopping trips, Christmas getaways and winter sports activities are covered.
So, after a brainstorming lunchtime meeting, we decided to use the Nativity Story as a basis for six tips you should remember this Christmas.
Travelling with valuables:
While today it’s more likely to be iPhones, tablet PCs and games consoles, rather than gold, frankincense and myrrh, many people travel across the Christmas period taking gifts with them.
We offer gadget cover as an additional add-on when you buy your travel insurance with us.
Mix up at the hotel:
There was no room at the inn for Mary and Joseph, and there may be none for you. In the event of a being stuck with no accommodation, it is important to note that the holiday company used to make the booking, or the hotel themselves, would be liable to find you alternative accommodation. Travel insurance policies would not cover this.
Mary and Joseph were travelling as part of a census to pay taxes. Just as they had to be careful of any conflicts in the area with Roman guards or marauding peasants, modern day travellers need to be vigilant when holidaying abroad.
In the event of civil unrest while travelling, we recommend you contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). In fact, we recommend that holidaymakers always check with FCO before travelling as they provide checklists, country information, Embassy details, passport and visa requirements, and more. For more information, please visit the FCO website.
Emergency medical assistance:
As the story goes, Mary gave birth while travelling to Bethlehem. Today, the majority of insurance companies will only provide limited cover up to about seven months of any pregnancy. Generally, travelling overseas after 30 weeks carries a higher risk of a both premature birth and complications of pregnancy, and needs to be considered carefully with advice from a medical consultant.
If you are travelling by air, it is also important to check with the carrier to see what their rules specify regarding a safe travel timeframe for pregnant women – don’t assume it’s the same for all as it varies from airline to airline.
It is essential to have a policy that covers you for emergency medical expenses while holidaying overseas, in case of sustaining unexpected injury or illness. Your policy should cover you for both emergency in-patient and out-patient treatment, which includes treatment costs, consultations and even emergency dental treatment. However, you are recommended to take out the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) although this only covers state-provided treatment and not private clinics or repatriation costs.
If it becomes medically necessary to repatriate you back to your home country, then this should be covered too. Should you require emergency medical treatment or repatriation, Columbus Direct policies provide you with access to a 24-hour multilingual staffed medical emergency company.
Strange goings on in the sky:
The three wise men navigated their way to Bethlehem guided by an unusually bright star where they discovered Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. These days we experience other atmospheric acts of God, such as volcanic ash, hurricanes and fog.
It is important to check your travel policy, as most will not cover ‘Acts of God’. We do cover adverse weather conditions, and can even extend your policy to cover volcanic ash.
Visiting foreign cities:
Shepherds came from all over the land to visit baby Jesus and deliver gifts. With Christmas markets across Europe just begging to be sampled, thousands of Brits will travel to cities such as Bruges, Munich and Prague in the annual quest for fabulous Christmas gifts.
Most policies cover limited expenses for items bought abroad. If you are spending big bucks on your Christmas shopping and bringing your gifts back, make sure your policy has cover for loss, damage and theft of baggage.
It should also provide you an allowance to purchase essential items in the event that your baggage is delayed for a certain period of time.
It's worth bearing in mind that during the Christmas period (travel between 15th December and 15th January only), our overall cover limit for personal property is increased by £500.