Wednesday 21 August 2019

Irish travel agents warn holidaymakers over European heatwaves

Staying hydrated and taking out travel insurance are key messages for holidaymakers this week

Cooling down: A boy jumps into the water of the Trocadero Fountain in Paris during last month's heat wave. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Cooling down: A boy jumps into the water of the Trocadero Fountain in Paris during last month's heat wave. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Travel Insurance. Source: Competition and Consumer Protection Commission
Travel insurance - have you read the T&Cs? Photo: Deposit
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

With temperatures expected to reach 40 degrees in parts of Europe this week, travel agents have a clear message for Irish holidaymakers.

"Stay hydrated throughout your stay and avoid direct sunlight during the hottest periods of the day," advises Pat Dawson, CEO of the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA), which has over 100 members countrywide.

"We are encouraging all travellers to follow the advice of the local authorities, which are implementing measures to tackle the extreme heat,” he adds.

The advice comes as temperatures of up to 40 degrees are due in Northern France, as well as parts of Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

The heatwave is expected to peak on Thursday.

Some destinations have introduced air-conditioned rooms, water mists, temporary fountains and other measures to tackle the searing temperatures, which could beat records in Northern Europe, the ITAA says.

Children play under water jets in a fountain as they cool off during a heatwave in Nice. Photo by VALERY HACHE / AFP)VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Children play under water jets in a fountain as they cool off during a heatwave in Nice. Photo by VALERY HACHE / AFP)VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images

The warnings come less than a month after similar highs saw Europe bake towards the end of June. Spain is also experiencing one of its worst series of wildfires in 20 years following temperatures of over 40 degrees in much of the country.

Meanwhile, Irish holidaymakers are also being advised to research and take out travel insurance before taking their annual trips overseas.

One third of Irish consumers have never had travel insurance, according to a survey by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), which says many people are unaware of the costs, risks and benefits involved.

18-44 year olds are least likely to take out travel insurance, with 43pc stating they have never had a policy, the CCPC-commissioned poll of 1,000 people found.

“Although the majority of people have had a positive experience with taking out, and sometimes claiming on travel insurance, one third of consumers reported that they have never actually taken out a policy," says Áine Carroll, the Commission's Director of Communications and Policy.

Six myths about travel insurance

Travel insurance - have you read the T&Cs? Photo: Deposit

As part of its research, the CCPC published five myths common to people considering taking out travel insurance.

1. 'I have health insurance so don’t need it'

"Private health insurance offers some protection for healthcare costs while travelling abroad, but consumers should check their individual policies as the levels of cover differ between insurance providers," the CCPC says.

"Hospital bills can quickly run into thousands of euro and your private health policy could have a payment cap for healthcare provided in foreign countries.

"With a travel insurance policy, costs will be covered provided the consumer meets the terms and conditions of their policy and has previously disclosed any pre-existing conditions to their policy provider.

"It is important to remember that private health insurance won’t cover extra hotel stays, meals or transport costs that could be incurred if you or a family member fall ill while abroad," it adds.

2. "Insurers won’t pay out, so it’s not worth my time...'

CCPC research shows that one in ten of travellers felt they could make a claim but did not do so as they felt it would be too much hassle. However, the research shows that 89pc of those who did make a claim were successful.

3. 'I don’t need to tell the insurance provider about my medical history'

"It is crucial that you disclose all pre-existing medical conditions that you or one of your family has so insurers can confirm their policy will cover any emergency treatment you might need abroad," the CCPC says. "You may not be covered if you don’t disclose all pre-existing conditions to your provider."

4. 'My multi-trip policy will cover me for all holidays'

"Trips which involve potentially unsafe activities may not be covered under a general policy. You’ll need to check the terms and conditions with your provider.

"If you’re planning an activity holiday and choose to buy a single policy, you will need to disclose any sports or adventure activities to the insurance provider.

"Always answer the questions honestly when you are completing an application for travel insurance as you may not be able to claim if you have not filled out your information truthfully," the CCPC says.

5. 'The cheapest policy will give me enough cover'

In the CCPC’s research, more than half of those surveyed (54pc) said price was the most important factor overall in choosing a provider.

There is little value in buying the cheapest policy if it doesn’t meet your needs, however. To make sure you get the cover you need, you need to shop around and don’t base your decision on price alone.

"Look at the level of cover and whether it is sufficient for your needs. If you are going abroad a couple of times in one year, check if a multi-trip (or annual) policy would be better value than taking out individual travel insurance policies for each trip."

6. 'You only need to book just before you go'

"You shouldn’t wait until the day before you leave to buy your travel insurance policy," the CCPC advises. "Once you have booked your holiday and have all the details of your trip, it’s a good idea to purchase travel insurance from that date, rather than waiting until your travel date. This means you may be covered if you need to cancel the holiday unexpectedly. You should also take out the policy to cover you for a day or two after you are due to travel back in case you are unexpectedly delayed. "

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