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What to do if your holiday is cancelled: Travel Insurance Advice

Due to Coronavirus (Covid-19) spreading throughout numerous countries across the globe in recent months, those with upcoming travel plans are understandably going to have concerns.

However, even if you have purchased a travel insurance policy, you may be left wondering if you are covered and can make a claim if necessary.

Thankfully, the following article will remove any guesswork by providing you with essential information regarding which travel insurance policy features you’ll need. That way, you can ensure that you’re fully covered for any upcoming trips you may have.

Here’s everything that you need to know.

What to do if your trip is cancelled by the airline, hotel, or package holiday company

In the event that your airline cancels your flight, they have a legal responsibility to provide you with a full refund, a free replacement flight to your final destination, or a free replacement flight at a later date (in accordance with EC Regulation No. 261/2004). In any instance that you are given less than 14 days’ notice, you may be entitled to compensation according to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

However, with the Coronavirus outbreak now affecting a large number of countries, it’s important to take notice of the latest travel advice that is issued by the Government. Typically speaking, travel insurance with cancellation or disruption cover will activate when the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) advises against all travel or all but essential travel.

If you have booked a package holiday that has been cancelled or a part of your trip has changed significantly prior to departure, you will be entitled to one of the following:

  • A refund with no cancellation fee.
  • An inferior substitute with a refund for the price difference.
  • An equivalent or superior alternative at no additional cost.

If you need to make a claim with your insurer, you’ll need to have Trip Cancellation coverage, which may not be included as standard. So, you’ll need to read through the wording of your policy to be on the safe side. To see a list of recommended insurers that do provide varying degrees of cancellation cover, head to our travel insurance guide here.

What to do if you fall ill before leaving

Sometimes, unforeseen illnesses can disrupt your travel plans. But as long as you had a valid travel insurance policy in place prior to falling ill, you should be able to make a claim with your insurance provider.

However, if you make a claim regarding a pre-existing medical condition that you failed to declare to your travel insurance provider beforehand, you won’t be entitled to any reimbursement or compensation. Therefore, it’s incredibly important to purchase a plan at the point of booking your trip in order to cover any pre-existing medical conditions.

Falling ill while abroad – what to do

If you fall ill while you’re away, you’ll need to seek medical treatment as soon as possible prior to returning home. Inform your insurance provider immediately and you will be presented with advice on what to do next.

If you are on a trip within Europe, your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will cover you for treatment at least until the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020. For any trips elsewhere, your travel insurance provider should reimburse you for any medical expenses and any other reasonable additional expenses such as food and accommodation.

Either way, you will only be covered if you fully complied with the latest government travel advice. Here are the features you need to look out for on your policy for optimal coverage:

  • Trip Interruption
  • Emergency Medical
  • Emergency Evacuation

Cancelling your trip for any reason – are you covered?

If you want to be covered regardless of the reason for cancelling your trip, you’ll need to have Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) coverage. This reimburses you with up to 75% of your total trip costs if you cancel your trip for any reason other than what is listed in the standard coverage.

However, you will need to have been insured prior to 21 January 2020 in order to have Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption coverage in Coronavirus affected areas. Otherwise, you will only be covered for Emergency Medical and Evacuation as necessary. This is because, after the aforementioned date, Coronavirus was declared as an event and no longer classed as unforeseeable.

Final Thoughts

By now, it should be clear that taking the time to read through your policy wording is incredibly important. Doing so effectively ensures that you have all the appropriate travel insurance features before your trip.

However, with the Covid-19 outbreak continuing to disrupt travel plans, it’s absolutely crucial to follow the latest Government advice to avoid invalidating your policy. All in all, you’ll be fully prepared for all eventualities if you take into account the information mentioned throughout this article.

Health

A Guide for People Living and Travelling with a Stoma

How to maintain a normal, independent lifestyle either at home or out and about

There are various aspects of a stoma which can make daily life challenging.  Here we tackle some of these with advice and techniques to help you ignore your stoma and just get on with the business of living your best life.

Top tips for stoma management while you’re on holiday

Changing appliances is not too difficult but follow some basic rules and you are much less likely to get any troublesome leaks.

  • Try and get into a routine and pick a time when you will be free from disruptions but if your pouch is leaking then change it as soon as you can
  • Hygiene is very important so always wash your hands thoroughly before you start
  • Choose an area which you can protect from accidental spillages and get everything ready and to hand before you start including cutting the pouch or flange to size.
  • Making a template to reflect the size of the stoma is really useful

statue

Odour control

Some wind or flatulence is inevitable whether you have a stoma or not but because the stoma bag can inflate, wind can be a very distressing and embarrassing issue for those with a stoma.  Try to modify your diet so that foods which tend to create wind like pulses are either avoided or only eaten in small quantities.

Modern stoma pouches contain an integrated filter which helps control the release of wind and avoids the embarrassment of the pouch inflating.  The filters are charcoal-based which is a natural odour neutraliser.  Did you know you can also add a couple of drops of peppermint essence into the stoma bag to help reduce odours?

 

Normal daily life with a stoma

With adaptations, there is no reason why normal daily life – housework and gardening even sport – cannot carry on with some modifications.

  • Gardening – the key is to avoid lifting anything too heavy so using lightweight equipment and small trugs and barrows which have to be emptied more frequently because they accommodate less. Some stoma patients redesign their garden so there is less bending over – if you do need to bend, you should bend from the knees.  Raised flower beds and borders make the task of gardening much easier and give you an opportunity to create a fresh look for your home
  • Housework – upright vacuum cleaners can be quite a strain but this can be alleviated by using both hands, modern versions like the Dyson range are much lighter and easier to use. Vacuum cleaners are heavy to carry up and downstairs so have two cleaners, one for upstairs and one for downstairs.  Half fill your kettle or use a travel kettle which is smaller.  A laundry basket on a collapsible trolley is ideal for linen which can be really heavy
  • Showering and bathing- are all perfectly possible with a stoma appliance although it is preferable not to aim the direct flow of water from a shower right onto the pouch. You may need to change the pouch more often because of showering and bathing if you wash with the appliance in place.  Always ensure the soap is well rinsed from your skin as it leaves a film which can make it harder to ensure the stoma bag stays in place via the adhesive
  • Sporting activity – even contact sports are all perfectly possible with a stoma although always allow sufficient time to recover after surgery and speak to your stoma nurse or GP and discuss your intentions with them first

Travelling with a stoma

For many stoma patients, this is the biggest challenge but with careful thought and planning, a stoma does not have to restrict your holiday plans.  These hints and tips will help guide you through holiday preparations and travel to the resort and ensure you have an enjoyable trip.

Before you go

  • Plan your accommodation carefully – do you want a bathroom or a shower? You may prefer to shower but bathrooms tend to be bigger with more room if you like to change your appliance in there
  • Plan your daily routine and think about when you will empty the pouch or change the stoma appliance. Pouches are best emptied when they are half or two thirds full but the restrictions of travel schedules and unexpected delays may make access to a quiet, private and hygienic location more difficult.  Try and plan your stoma pouch changes so that you stay ahead of how full it is then you won’t get caught out if there are unexpected delays.  Some people prefer to use a drainable pouch whilst they are travelling which removes the challenge of changing a pouch in often cramped toilets i.e. on an aeroplane.  Remember that a different climate and diet can alter the normal pattern of your bodily functions and you may need to change the stoma pouch more frequently than if you were at home
  • Calculate the equipment you will need for the length of your trip including some spares in case of difficulty or occasional faulty supplies and whether you intend to use night drainage bags. Use products from different batches and with different batch numbers to help reduce the likelihood of faulty supplies
  • Pack your main supplies in clear plastic bags so they are easy to identify if your luggage is checked at security and they will also take up less space if you discard the packaging
  • Update your stoma template before you travel and pre-cut some pouches ready to size

A few golden rules may help:

Your Diet

After surgery, ostomates worry about their diet, but eventually, they realise that there are very few restrictions as to what they can and cannot eat. Dietary requirements are a very individual matter and will depend on an ostomate’s own body. Everyone is unique – different foods and drinks may disagree with one person but may have no effects on someone else.

However, like everyone else, an ostomate should eat a varied, well-balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, and take regular exercise.

A stoma should not change your enjoyment of food. The most important dietary concerns for ostomates are preventing blockage, and avoiding foods that produce unpleasant odours, gas or excess stool. However, many stoma patients eat a very varied diet, which is important, leaving out the foods which upset them as individuals.

Controlling weight is always important, so it is beneficial not to overeat.

The following are tips about a few common foods to avoid. However, if there are any dietary concerns, a doctor or nurse should be consulted.

  • Eat at regular times in a relaxed atmosphere. Eat small, sensible portions, and eat little and often. A stoma works best if three or four regular meals are eaten each day.
  • It is always better to sit down to eat. Never grab snacks, eat standing up or in a hurry.
  • Chew food thoroughly, especially if you have an ileostomy, as this will help to prevent any food blockage.
  • Eat slowly and try not to gulp in air when eating.
  • Try new foods, one at a time, in small quantities. Therefore, if there is a problem, you will have an idea what caused it. Then just eliminate that particular food for a while, and then try again.
  • Drink plenty of fluids daily, (6-8 glasses/mugs), especially in hot weather, as fluids may be lost more than normal through a stoma.
  • Take care when eating some foods, because they are not completely digestible and could cause a blockage. Such foods are celery, Chinese vegetables, coconut, coleslaw, mushrooms, nuts, peas, popcorn, raisins and other dried fruits, raw pineapple, relish, salad greens, seeds and vegetable skins.
  • Avoid food that has been standing for a long period of time, especially when abroad on holiday in hot climates.
  • Natural yoghurt can help to neutralise the bacteria in the gut, and therefore, reduce excessive wind.

Travelling to the resort and trips out whilst you are away

  • When you are travelling, you may be happy to keep the bulk of your supplies in your main luggage but always keep a small travel kit in your hand luggage in case of lengthy delays which may require a pouch change while you are travelling. Scissors cannot travel in hand luggage, they can only go in suitcases intended for the aircraft hold
  • Check with the airport about the regulations for carrying gels, liquids and aerosols in hand luggage as these rules do change from time to time. Take note of how these items must be packed, usually in a transparent plastic bag so they are easily inspected at security and maximum permitted volumes
  • Some airlines offer a special baggage allowance for people carrying medical supplies, an extra 5kg but each airline does vary so check before you fly
  • People with a stoma should avoid heavy lifting so you may need assistance with lifting and carrying your luggage. Taxi drivers will usually help you and airports and railway stations have trolleys but you should plan your journey in detail, for example, many tube stations have flights of stairs which can be challenging with heavy suitcases.  Transport for London has a really good website which allows you to plan your journey with plenty of information for those who need level access and want to avoid stairs.  With some adjustment to your route, it is possible to get from tube to street level without the need to lug heavy luggage up flights of stairs if you are on your own
  • Some stoma patients are at increased risk of Urinary Tract Infections so make sure you stay well hydrated during your journey with bottled water. Cranberry juice is also helpful in keeping infection at bay and this can be taken in tablet form which is much easier if you are travelling.  Sports drinks can be a useful source of salts and sugars.  Avoid alcohol if you are on a long trip as this increases dehydration
  • Flying at altitude can increase the occurrence of wind so avoid eating anything in the preceding 24 hour period which could exacerbate this
  • Keep a list in your hand luggage or in your wallet which details all the prescription medicines you are taking and also contains information about the stoma in case you have to explain your medical supplies at border security checks
  • Seatbelts in cars or coaches can become uncomfortable if they are situated on top of the stoma. Car accessories shops sell a number of different products which help make seatbelts more comfortable and protect the stoma or you could wear a stoma protector such as Ostoshield
  • Consider carrying a toilet card which is a handy credit card size and details that you have a medical condition and may not be able to wait in a queue. It is also a very useful device if you are in a location where there are no public toilets and you have to request to use a private toilet.  Remember, you are entitled to use a disabled toilet if you have a stoma even though the image depicts someone in a wheelchair.  Disabled toilets are often much larger with more room making it easier to drain or change an appliance

 

In the hotel

 

  • Think about where you will store your equipment – it needs to be kept in a cool, dry location, fine if you are in a hotel room but much more challenging if you are camping in a hot location
  • Disposal of used appliances and associated waste can usually be done in the standard bathroom bin, just make sure you double bag everything. Some hotels will provide medical waste bags which are yellow.  Flushable pouches should be fine for hotel toilets but should not be disposed of down the toilet if you are on board ship
  • Use only bottled water to clean the stoma which can be boiled and cooled
  • Some stoma patients take a mattress protector with them to avoid any embarrassing marks or stains due to leakage
  • A night drainage bag stand is incredibly useful and you can buy a flat-pack travel version which is light and easily folds to fit into your luggage
  • Have a healthcare phrase card in your wallet or download a language app to your phone which you can use to translate key medical sentences
  • Keep details of your medical supplier in your wallet as some companies will provide delivery of supplies overseas if you run out; this is something you can check out before you travel
  • If you lose your supplies, say your luggage is sent to the wrong airport, there is an organisation called World Assist Alliance which is an internationally operating network of delivery companies who may be able to help you in an emergency. The service is available in some (not all) European countries and beyond and you won’t need a medical prescription to access fresh supplies.

Always discuss your travel plans with your healthcare professional be that stoma care nurse or your GP.  They can advise you of any other considerations that you might not have thought of before you travel.  The International Ostomy Association may be able to help provide details of organisations that can supply stoma products in your destination country- check this website out before you go.

Travel insurance

Post Brexit, the European Health Insurance Card will continue to be valid during the transitionary phase which ends on 31st December 2020.  Further information about what will happen from 2021 onwards will become available from government agencies and healthcare professionals.  Even with an EHIC card in place, you should still purchase travel insurance as there are many aspects of your care and medical needs which may not be covered by the healthcare system in place in your destination country.  If you have any issues with your stoma whilst abroad and require medical treatment or hospitalisation then the EHIC may not cover this.

Some travel insurance policies will cover a stoma whilst others do not (read our guide to colostomy travel insurance here).  It is crucial to disclose all your medical conditions to the insurer and remember to update them if you buy cover several months before you travel as your health status may have changed during the intervening period.

 

Did you know?

Patients in the UK who have a permanent stoma are entitled to free NHS prescriptions.  You may already be eligible for free prescriptions for other reasons but if you are not, your local GP surgery can direct you to the relevant NHS Medical Exemption Form.  Your stoma care nurse or local hospital can also provide this form.  The form will need a doctor’s signature to confirm that the information is correct and that the stoma is permanent.

Once the relevant department has received the form and it is processed, you will receive a white card around credit card size so easy to fit in your wallet or purse which confirms your entitlement.  The card will have an expiry date on it which is usually five years from the date of approval or the patient’s 60th birthday if that is sooner.  You will receive a letter from the NHS about one month before your current card is due to expire if you remain under 60 asking you to apply for a new one.  Keep the card in your wallet as you will be asked to provide proof of your exemption from prescription charges whenever you go to collect medication.

 

Surplus to requirements

If you find you have excess medical supplies that are unopened and unused, you can put these to good use.  There are a number of charities who may be interested in having these donated but always contact them first before you send anything.  No-one wants to have a stoma but imagine how much worse it would be if you didn’t have access to sterile medical supplies and professional healthcare.

If you just simply want to dispose of partially or wholly unused medical supplies and products then your stoma nurse or local pharmacist can usually help with that.

 

Coming to terms and living with a stoma

There are some tried and tested techniques, everyone is an individual and what works for one person may not work for another.

  • Naming your stoma
  • Networking with other Ostomates on Facebook and Twitter which provide discrete online access to designated support groups and associations like Stoma Stifler, The Colostomy Association, Peak Medical Ltd and Pelican Healthcare Ltd. It is a chance to learn about the latest developments in stoma care and also connect with other people who share the same experience.  This can be both informative and supportive and decrease the sense of difference and isolation that some stoma patients feel.  YouTube is also a good source of practical information as sometimes the medium of film can better explain something that simple text alone struggles with like changing an appliance
  • Support groups and organisations like Colostomy UK can help with all aspects of stoma management and support those with either a permanent or temporary stoma who often feel isolated. There is bucket loads of good practical advice and support from others in the same situation

With care, planning and just a little forethought, it is possible to manage a stoma and get on with your daily life, enjoying all the normal activities that you did before including sporting activities and holidays.

 

Further reading: inspiration and resources for living with a stoma

Reading and writing blogs are a way in which ostomates can come to terms with their stomas and life with a stoma.  Blogs are worldwide and are written by many truly-inspirational ostomates, who are living life to the full. Here are some of the best to get you started:

Canada

IBD Baggage Claim: https://ibdbaggage.com/about/blog-posts/

Ostomy Canada Society: https://www.ostomycanada.ca/blog/

Uncover Ostomy: http://uncoverostomy.org/blog/

Living Bigger With Colostomy: http://www.livingbiggerwithcolostomy.com/

The Ostomy Factor: https://joannltremblay.wordpress.com/

Vegan Ostomy: https://www.veganostomy.ca/

United Kingdom

Ostomy Support Charity Stomawise: http://www.stomawise.co.uk/

National Association for Colitis and Crohn’s Disease: http://www.nacc.org.uk/

IBS Network: http://www.ibsnetwork.org.uk/

The Big Stoma Bucket List: https://adventuresofthebaglady.wordpress.com/

Colostomy Association: http://www.colostomyuk.org/

Gladrags & Bags: http://www.gladragsandbags.org/blog/

MS-UK MS Forum: https://www.ms-uk.org/

Ostomy Champagne Lifestyle: https://ostomychampagnelifestyle.com/

Respond: https://www.respond.co.uk

The Spoonie Mummy: https://thespooniemummy.com/

Catgotthechrons’s: https://catgotthecrohns.wordpress.com/

Pelican Healthcare: https://www.pelicanhealthcare.co.uk/blog/

Rocking 2 Stomas: https://rocking2stomas.co.uk/

Tomas The Stoma: https://tomasthestoma.co.uk/

United States

Active Ostomates: https://activeostomates.wordpress.com/

Chronies Unite: https://unitedcrohnies.wordpress.com/

The Great Bowel Movement: https://thegreatbowelmovement.org/

The Gutless Cyclist: http://gutlesscyclist.blogspot.com/

Ostomy Outdoors: https://ostomyoutdoors.com/

Life, Lemons and Lemonade: http://lifelemonsandlemonade.com/

 

Image credits

Travel

Self Storage Insurance: Everything you need to know

There are many reasons why you may need to put items into storage, it could be furniture in between the rental and purchase of a property, a family caravan laid up for the winter or just items that are surplus to requirements at that particular point in time.

Many of our retired customers choose to travel for long periods (6, even 12 months at a time!) and realise there’s income to be made from renting their homes. This creates a need for self-storage for their furniture and valuable items.

typical self storage unit

Your possessions are covered by insurance when they are on your premises, either through contents insurance within the home or a dedicated policy for an item like a caravan.  But when your items are in storage, also called self-storage, they will need specific insurance cover as they may not be covered by a home contents policy. This is for loss or damage which could be caused by fire, flood or theft.

These are the most common causes of a claim but most self-storage insurance policies offer comprehensive protection against quite a variety of other perils such as vermin damage, moth and insect damage too.

self storage company

Many storage companies will offer you cover or automatically build it into the fees but you could shop around and find your own free-standing cover elsewhere and this may be cheaper.  However, some storage units insist you take their cover out and will not allow you to insure independently under their terms and conditions.

Whether you source your own self-storage insurance cover or use the cover offered by the storage provider, here are some of the key factors that you need will need to consider to adequately protect your goods:-

  • Try and ascertain whether you are looking for short or long term rental – if you take a short- term policy and then keep extending the term this could cost you more
  • What is the total value of the goods in storage? Don’t undervalue them in order to try and obtain a lower premium because if you do need to claim then you will be left out of pocket
  • Is there provision for specific items of worth, for example, you might have cleared out granny’s house and reckon all the furniture and goods are worth around £10,000 but there is a diamond ring valued at £2,500, can you list this separately much as you would on home contents insurance?
  • Is there an item limit on individual valuables or goods of worth? Some providers have a limit of £1,000 on bicycles for example so will your valuable road bike which cost £1,500 need its own policy?
  • What basis is the cover on, is it ‘new for old’ or replacement cover?
  • Are there items which the storage provider does not cover? Usual exclusions include any form of money or currency and that would include debit cards but does it include old or antique coins?
  • Most storage facilities describe how items must be stored or you could invalidate the cover, for instance, possessions stored in wooden crates or tea chests would not be covered due to the fire risk

Premiums

Premiums are based on the collective value of the items you are storing and may also reflect the type of storage you select on the premises and this can vary.

Insurance cover will be offered to you when you obtain a storage cost quotation but you don’t have to accept this; you can shop around and look elsewhere for your own policy which may well end up being cheaper.

Based on a sample policy covering goods worth a total value of £10,000, one insurer could offer a premium of £3.63 per week as compared to the insurance offered by some well-known storage companies which for the same value policy varied from £9.66 per week right up to £12.83.

It just shows that it can really pay to shop around.  As with all insurance cover, always read the small print and when comparing prices, make sure you are comparing like with like so that the comparison is accurate.

Expats, Health

International medical insurance: Everything you need to know.

This article is for UK citizens who live or work internationally and are worried about having the right level of private medical insurance cover while they’re working, travelling or living internationally.

When you live, work or happen to spend a long time travelling internationally, you need international health insurance

In today’s political climate, you can’t really guarantee that you’re covered by the local health providers, that’s whether you need medical assistance on holiday or while you’re living and working abroad. Because of this, some people elect to get private medical insurance with International cover.

What is international medical insurance?

International medical health insurance offers access to comprehensive levels of healthcare cover to people who are away from their home countries for an extended duration of time, whereas travel insurance is geared towards providing cover for emergency treatment while you are in another country, on holiday for example, for a much shorter period of time.

To protect you and your family, it is essential to ensure that you have comprehensive insurance protection whilst resident abroad.

How much does it cost?

As an indication, Freedom’s policies can start from £29.45 per month for single policies, £58.88 per month for couples, and £73.50 per month for a young family. This is, of course, dependent on a variety of factors. Your settled location being the most obvious as it’s natural to assume that PMI for someone living and working in the USA or Singapore would be more expensive than the EU. Then, there’s age, existing health and so on) and it can be heavily influenced by the level of excess you choose in the policy.

What about Cancer Cover?

Cancer cover is included in Freedom Health Insurance’s Worldwide International Medical Insurance – click here to review their policy.

Pre-existing medical conditions

If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, it’s important to always disclose them during the application process with your health insurance company. Rarely are there pre-existing conditions that don’t qualify for cover and it’s much worse not to disclose something.

Policyclever recommends: Freedom Health Insurance

Freedom Health Insurance is a multi-award winning health insurer. Offering, in our opinion one of the best PMI products available today.

Freedom’s policies are designed for all levels of cover at varying levels of budget. Their standard cover is called “Your Choice” and includes cancer cover and in-patient annual benefit, other healthcare options can be added to suit your unique health needs. Their “Elite” cover essentially adds all available options to give a very premium level of cover.

At a slightly higher budget level, the “Worldwide” health insurance policy offers people who are studying, living, working or travelling abroad full private health cover should it be needed. We currently recommend that British people travelling to the EU should make sure their travel insurance covers them while they’re away, but if you’re a British expat living in the EU, you should look at health insurance options too.

Freedom Health Worldwide PMI: What types of things are covered with their International cover?

  • Hospital accommodation
  • Nursing fees, medical expenses and ancillary charge
  • Surgeons’, consultants’, anaesthetists’ and medical practitioners’ fees
  • MRI, PET and CT scans
  • X-rays, pathology, diagnostic tests
  • Prescription drugs and medicines
  • Surgical appliances and prostheses
  • Cost of one parent staying with a child (under 16 years of age)
  • Out-patient surgery
  • Physician and therapist fees including physiotherapist (referral by a medical practitioner, consultant)
  • Psychiatric treatment
  • Organ transplant

Are there any additional Benefits?

These include premium optional health extras including:

  • Private ambulance
  • Nursing at home
  • Complications in pregnancy or childbirth
  • Inpatient cash benefit
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy
  • Cover for chronic medical conditions
  • Terminal illness care
  • Emergency in/day patient treatment for accidental damage to teeth

Find out more

To find out more about international medical health insurance, check out Freedom Health Insurance’s Worldwide policy.