Emergency Travel Information: Mali

Advice regarding the situation in Mali – the following applies to all MAPFRE underwritten schemes.

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On 20 November 2015, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) changed their advice regarding Mali.  https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/mali

Whilst the hostage situation is now over (as per 5.30pm GMT) advice still remains to be cautious if in the location.

If you’re currently in Bamako, Mali, please contact your holiday company as soon as possible as they should be able to help make arrangements for you to return home.

If you have booked a holiday to Bamako, Mali, that is due to depart very soon, please contact your holiday company as soon as you can as they should be able to either rearrange your holiday for another time or offer you a full refund. If you have a travel insurance policy with us, we can change this to cover your new holiday providing the new trip is within three months of your original departure date, is for the same (or no longer) duration and is to the same geographical area.  If your trip is cancelled and you are being fully refunded by your holiday company and so have no claim to make under this insurance, we will also consider the cancellation and refund of your existing policy.  Please note that this will only apply to Single Trip policies for specific trips covering the dates concerned.

We have also updated the advice regarding what cover we can offer you if you’re currently in Mali below (updates in brackets):

  • Medical expenses – Any medical claims arising as a result of any attacks are fully covered under the policy terms and conditions.
  • Repatriation – Both holiday companies and the British government are looking to repatriate those in Mali. If, for any reason, you’re unable to be repatriated by either of these then we will provide cover for this in line with your medical needs.
  • Cutting short your trip – If you have chosen to end your holiday and no refund is available from your holiday company, then we will refund up to £1,000 per person for the cost of your lost holiday upon receipt of clarification from your holiday company as to why they will not reimburse this to you. This is extra cover that is not detailed in the policy terms and conditions, therefore the limits set out in the policy booklet do not apply in this case.  If you are currently in Mali and have made independent arrangements (i.e. do not have a holiday company that can assist you with extended accommodation (room only) costs that you need to incur after your planned return date), we will allow claims to be submitted under this section, within the £1,000.00 limit provided, to assist you with these costs that you cannot get back from any other source.
  • Cancellation – If you’re cancelling a holiday to Bamako, Mali, in the first instance, you should speak to your holiday company, as most are offering a full refund/change of destination. However, if you find that these are not available to you, we will look at these on a case-by-case basis and will, again, be subject to clarification from your holiday company being provided as to the reason why this will not be refunded.
  • Travel delay – if you have travel delay cover this will be covered for delays over 12 hours, in line with the benefit on the policy (please note that if you are in Bamako, Mali, you can claim additional room only hotel costs or travel delay, but not both).
  • Baggage claims – any baggage claim associated with this incident will be considered. If any delay or loss occurs if the government arrange for its return, claims should initially be submitted to that government Authority before being submitted to us for consideration.

Cover under customers ‎policies will automatically extend if they are unable to return home as planned.

Please note that our advice remains valid until further notice.

If you have any queries, please get in touch with us.

FCO Advice:  https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/mali

 

    1. BRITISH EMBASSY:

Address: Bureau De Liaison de l’Ambassade de Grande Bretagne. Enceinte de l’Ambassade du Canada. Route de Koulikoro. Hippodrome. BP 2069. Bamako. MALI

Phone:+223 44 97 69 13

  1. FOREIGN OFFICE NUMBERS FOR RELATIVES OF THOSE IN MALI:

Phone number in the UK: 0207 008 0000

Emergency Travel Information: Brussels, Belgium

Current advice regarding the current situation in Belgium which will apply to all MAPFRE underwritten schemes.

EHICPlus, EHICPlus Expand, ANZPlus

March 2016: Zaventem Airport, Brussels possible terrorist bombing

Further to this, ABTA have provided the following instructions:

“Following explosions in Brussels on 22 March, travellers in Brussels are advised to follow the instructions of Belgian security authorities. People who are due to travel should contact their airline or travel company for information about travel to and from Brussels.”

Just as in the UK where the terrorism threat level is severe, travellers should remain alert and vigilant, especially in places where there is a high concentration of people, as advised by the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO). The FCO also recommends that travellers should follow the advice of local authorities and respect security controls and that people in Brussels should stay away from crowded places and avoid public transport at this time.

November 2015: Brussels terrorist attacks

On 20 November 2015, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) changed their advice regarding Brussels, Belgium, following a serious and significant threat of a terrorist attack in the city. They are now advising against all but essential travel to the entire country, and are making arrangements to bring any Brits currently there home.  https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/belgium

If you’re currently in Belgium, please note that your policy will provide full cover in the event of an incident.

If you have booked a holiday to Belgium, please contact your holiday company as soon as you can as they should be able to either rearrange your holiday for another time or offer you a full refund. We currently are not providing cover for cancellation to Belgium, as a result of this threat, as no actual incident has occurred.

If you have a travel insurance policy with us, we can change this to cover your new holiday providing the new trip is within three months of your original departure date, is for the same (or no longer) duration and is to the same geographical area.  If your trip is cancelled and you are being fully refunded by your holiday company and so have no claim to make under this insurance, we will also consider the cancellation and refund of your existing policy. Please note that this will only apply to Single Trip policies for specific trips covering the dates concerned.

We have also updated the advice regarding what cover we can offer you if you’re currently in Belgium below (updates in brackets):

  • Medical expenses – Any medical claims arising as a result of any attacks are fully covered under the policy terms and conditions.
  • Repatriation –If, as a result of this threat or an incident, the British government choose to bring people home, customers should refer to both their holiday companies and the British government to get home. If, for any reason, customers cannot be repatriated by either of these then we will provide cover for this in line with your medical needs.
  • Cutting short your trip – There is currently no cover for choosing to cut short your trip as a result of the threat in place; however, if you have travelled and have been unable to undertake a prebooked and prepaid excursion as a result of the “lock down” in Brussels, we will refund up to £1,000 per person for these upon receipt of clarification from your excursion / holiday company as to why they will not reimburse this to you. This is extra cover that is not detailed in the policy terms and conditions, therefore the limits and excesses set out in the policy booklet do not apply in this case.
  • Cancellation – We currently are not providing cover for cancellation to Belgium, as a result of this threat, as no actual incident has occurred.

Please note that our advice remains valid until further notice, when we have been advised this restriction will be removed.

If you have any queries, please get in touch with us.

FCO Advice:  https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/belgium

1. BRITISH EMBASSY:

Address: British Embassy, Avenue d’Auderghem 10, 1040 Bruxelles, Belgium

Phone:+32 2 287 62 11

2. FOREIGN OFFICE NUMBERS FOR RELATIVES OF THOSE IN BELGIUM:

Phone number in the UK: 0207 008 1500

Emergency Travel Information: France

EHICPlus, EHICPlus Expand, ANZPlus

This information relates to policies sold by EHICPlus, EHICPlus Expand, and ANZPlus.

July 2016: Nice, France, Terrorist Attacks – evening of 14 July 2016

On the evening of 14 July 2016, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) changed their advice regarding Nice, France‎, ‎following the terrorist attack in Nice.

“We are in touch with the local authorities and seeking more information following an apparent attack on Bastille Day celebration in Nice. If you are in the area follow the instructions of the French authorities who are at present advising people to stay indoors at this time.”

If you’re currently in Nice, France, please contact your holiday company as soon as possible as if you wish to return home.

If you have booked a holiday to Nice, France, that is due to depart very soon, please contact your holiday company as soon as you can as they should be able to either rearrange your holiday for another time or offer you a full refund. If you have a travel insurance policy with us, we can change this to cover your new holiday providing the new trip is within three months of your original departure date, is for the same (or no longer) duration and is to the same geographical area.  If your trip is cancelled and you are being fully refunded by your holiday company and so have no claim to make under this insurance, we will also consider the cancellation and refund of your existing policy.  Please note that this will only apply to Single Trip policies for specific trips covering the dates concerned.

We have also updated the advice regarding what cover we can offer you if you’re currently in Nice, France below:

THE FOLLOWING ADVICE IS FOR THOSE CUSTOMERS WHO PURCHASED INSURANCE BEFORE THE EVENT OCCURRED ON 14 JULY 2016ANY CUSTOMERS WHO PURCHASED INSURANCE WHEN THE EVENT WAS KNOWN ABOUT ARE NOT COVERED.

Customers should refer to their terms and conditions for full details of their travel insurance cover.

  • Medical expenses – Any medical claims arising as a result of any attacks are fully covered under the policy terms and conditions.
  • Repatriation – We will provide cover for this in line with your medical needs.
  • Cutting short your trip – If you have chosen to end your holiday and no refund is available from your holiday company, then we will refund up to £1,000 per person for the cost of your lost holiday upon receipt of clarification from your holiday company as to why they will not reimburse this to you. This is extra cover that is not detailed in the policy terms and conditions, therefore the limits set out in the policy booklet do not apply in this case.  If you are currently in Nice, France and have made independent arrangements (i.e. do not have a holiday company that can assist you with extended accommodation (room only) costs that you need to incur after your planned return date), we will allow claims to be submitted under this section, within the £1,000.00 limit provided, to assist you with these costs that you cannot get back from any other source.
  • Cancellation – If you’re cancelling a holiday to Nice, France, in the first instance, you should speak to your holiday company, as they should offer a full refund/change of destination. However, if you find that these are not available to you, we will look at these on a case-by-case basis and will, again, be subject to clarification from your holiday company being provided as to the reason why this will not be refunded.
  • Travel delay – if you have travel delay cover this will be covered for delays over 12 hours, in line with the benefit on the policy (please note that if you are in Nice you can claim additional room only hotel costs or travel delay, but not both).
  • Baggage claims – any baggage claim associated with this incident will be considered. If any delay or loss occurs if the government arrange for its return, claims should initially be submitted to that government Authority before being submitted to us for consideration.

Cover under customers ‎policies will automatically extend if they are unable to return home as planned.

Please note that our advice remains valid until further notice.

FCO Advice:  https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/france

  • BRITISH EMBASSY: (nearest to Nice)

Address: British Embassy, 35 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore, 75008, Paris, France

Phone:+33 (1) 44 51 31 00

  • FOREIGN OFFICE NUMBERS FOR RELATIVES OF THOSE IN FRANCE:

Phone number in the UK: 0207 008 0000

March 2016: French Air Traffic Controllers strike

Please refer to your policy wording to check the specifics of cover, but the following general guidelines are provided. 

Travel delay

This would be deemed to be a strike event so the usual travel delay benefits and terms would apply.

 – Abandonment

If the delay in departing from the UK exceeds 12 hours/24 hours as specified in the policy wording then unused travel and accommodation costs, which cannot be reimbursed from other sources, will be refundable.

 – Cancellation

No specific cover as claims would fall under the Abandonment section terms.

 In terms of travel to the UK departure points, our wordings state a customer must check in for a travel delay or abandonment claim to be valid. We would generally waiver this requirement as this strike was made publicly known 48 hours before the strike begins.

 For those customers who have purchased the upgrade additional benefits may be payable – please refer to each specific policy wording for full details of cover.

 All of the above terms would apply to customers who purchased their policy before Friday 18 March 2016 (when this became publicly known via the media). For customers who have purchased their policy from Friday 18 March 2016 onwards, the strike would be deemed to be a known event so no cover would be in place.

 For customers stuck overseas and unable to return to the UK, their existing policy would automatically extend to cover them until such time as they are reasonably able to return home.

 For customers who are still in the UK and have not yet travelled, the following rules should apply:

 –  Where possible, a full refund should be sought from their flight company, tour operator, travel agent etc. Only non-refundable expenses will be considered on their travel insurance policy.

– For customers wishing to rearrange their trip dates, provided they are not making any claim under Abandonment, we can allow the cover dates to be transferred to a new trip provided the new trip is within 3 months of the original departure date and is for the same (or no longer) duration and is to the same geographical area.

November 2015: Paris terrorist attacks 

Update: Mapfre can now advise that these instructions will remain in place until Monday 23 November 2015, when they will revert back to normal coverage on all MAFPRE underwritten schemes.

Please be aware of the following information we are providing due to the tragic events in Paris:

On the evening of 13 November 2015, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) changed their advice regarding Paris, France‎, ‎following the terrorist attacks in Paris. 

Paris is currently locked down and Disneyland Paris has been closed. 

If you’re currently in France, please contact your holiday company as soon as possible as they should be able to help make arrangements for you to return home.

If you have booked a holiday to Paris, France, that is due to depart very soon, please contact your holiday company as soon as you can as they should be able to either rearrange your holiday for another time or offer you a full refund. If you have a travel insurance policy with us, we can change this to cover your new holiday providing the new trip is within three months of your original departure date, is for the same (or no longer) duration and is to the same geographical area.  If your trip is cancelled and you are being fully refunded by your holiday company and so have no claim to make under this insurance, we will also consider the cancellation and refund of your existing policy.  Please note that this will only apply to Single Trip policies for specific trips covering the dates concerned.

We have also updated the advice regarding what cover we can offer you if you’re currently in France below (updates in brackets):

  • Medical expenses – Any medical claims arising as a result of any attacks are fully covered under the policy terms and conditions. 
  • Repatriation – Both holiday companies and the British government are looking to repatriate those in France. If, for any reason, you’re unable to be repatriated by either of these then we will provide cover for this in line with your medical needs. 
  • Cutting short your trip – If you have chosen to end your holiday and no refund is available from your holiday company, then we will refund up to £1,000 per person for the cost of your lost holiday upon receipt of clarification from your holiday company as to why they will not reimburse this to you. This is extra cover that is not detailed in the policy terms and conditions, therefore the limits set out in the policy booklet do not apply in this case.  If you are currently in France and have made independent arrangements (i.e. do not have a holiday company that can assist you with extended accommodation (room only) costs that you need to incur after your planned return date), we will allow claims to be submitted under this section, within the £1,000.00 limit provided, to assist you with these costs that you cannot get back from any other source.
  • Cancellation – If you’re cancelling a holiday to Paris, France, in the first instance, you should speak to your holiday company, as most are offering a full refund/change of destination. However, if you find that these are not available to you, we will look at these on a case-by-case basis and will, again, be subject to clarification from your holiday company being provided as to the reason why this will not be refunded.
  • Travel delay – if you have travel delay cover this will be covered for delays over 12 hours, in line with the benefit on the policy (please note that if you are in Paris you can claim additional room only hotel costs or travel delay, but not both).
  • Baggage claims – any baggage claim associated with this incident will be considered. If any delay or loss occurs if the government arrange for its return, claims should initially be submitted to that government Authority before being submitted to us for consideration. 

Cover under customers ‎policies will automatically extend if they are unable to return home as planned.

Please note that our advice remains valid until further notice.

If you have any queries, please contact us.

FCO Advice:  https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/france 

BRITISH EMBASSY:
Address: British Embassy, 35 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore, 75008, Paris, France
Phone:+33 (1) 44 51 31 00

FOREIGN OFFICE NUMBERS FOR RELATIVES OF THOSE IN FRANCE:
Phone number in the UK: 0207 008 0000

Be a culture vulture: fit an opera into your next European holiday

Prague, Vienna, Venice, Rome: cities we all long to tick off our bucket list. These, and many other destinations in Europe, offer wonderful places to visit during the day. But are we possibly missing a trick by not enjoying the world-class entertainment that lies behind their doors in the evening?

There is possibly no better way to soak up the history of your holiday location than to spend a night at the opera. Many composers – Mozart, Verdi, Puccini and Wagner – saw their works premiered in Europe’s most beautiful theatres, several of which have changed little since their 18th and 19th century heydays. Watching and listening to the masterworks of these great musicians in the houses where they were first performed is a spellbinding experience that nobody should miss.

A quick guide to some famous names
The Czech Republic’s Národní divadlo; the Wiener Staatsoper in Austria; Italy’s Gran Teatro La Fenice and Teatro Costanzi; all venues that have borne witness to some of the most historic moments in opera: the first outing of Don Giovanni, the libertine that made Prague adopt Mozart as one of their own in 1787; the astonishment felt by audiences as they discovered that Verdi had made a courtesan his heroine in La Traviata in 1853; and Puccini’s ultra-realistic tale of love and murder, Tosca, attended by Italy’s prime minister, Luigi Pelloux, and Princess Margherita of Savoy, in 1900.

Don’t speak Italian or German? Not a problem!
Always check with the venue, but typically you won’t need to rely on your imagination to understand what’s happening on stage. Europe’s major theatres are equipped with technology that provides surtitles in English (often as text shown on a screen alongside the stage), allowing you to follow every twist and turn of the drama.

The programmes published by the theatres provide lavish introductions to the works, their librettos (the script), and the circumstances of their composition, ensuring that you will come away from a performance not just with the music ringing in your ears, but with a deep knowledge and appreciation of how each opera came into being.

Coming up this winter
Some of the greatest works ever created for the theatre will be live on stage this season: in December, Aida, Verdi’s epic tale of love amidst war between the ancient Egyptian and Ethiopian kingdoms, comes to the State Opera in Prague, while in January, Rossini’s glorious slapstick comedy, The Barber of Seville, will tread the boards at the Vienna State Opera.

For the full picture, all you have to do is type the names of the theatres into your web browser search and you will be just one click away from an experience you will never forget!

The Dramatic Adriatic: the holiday islands of Dalmatia

As the autumn nights draw in, finding the last remnants of summer sun for a European getaway can become a bit of a challenge. It is no surprise that so many holidaymakers who choose to travel within Europe during the off-season will instinctively opt for a Mediterranean destination. With its long summers and mild winters, the sea to the south is a prime retreat throughout the colder months.

Yet even the most southerly of the Mediterranean’s islands are visited by cooler temperatures at the very end of the year. And, with a local industry that specialises in seasonal trade for leisure and tourism, many holidaymakers worry that a winter break in a resort destination may mean fewer comforts as staff, services and attractions are scaled back for the leaner months.

A different kind of island resort
The perfect way to answer these doubts is to visit a region which has plenty to offer whatever time of year you choose to go. And, when it comes to seaside breaks in southern Europe, few can rival the off-season delights of Croatia’s Dalmatian coastline.

Situated on the eastern shores of the Adriatic sea, Dalmatia offers a world of wonders with its beautiful beaches, elegant architecture, and its dazzling, clear waters. The region’s many resorts can be found spread widely across the many islands of the archipelago. Although there are more than a thousand islands, just 66 are inhabited – with the most populated islands of Vis, Brac and Hvar proving the most popular amongst visitors.

The islands were formed from mountains during the last ice age, and the resulting natural geography is both dramatic, and tranquil. Sandy spits and isolated, pine-covered pebble beaches fall away into deep, crystal clear sea. And with a climate that is reflected in the local cuisine as well as in the region’s fresh produce of figs, almonds, olives and lemons, Dalmatia is a choice destination for foodies of all tastes.

Travelling to Dalmatia
Dalmatia retains the summer sun longer than northern Europe, and November temperatures average 15C (59F). While the warmth may not last the whole year, the region enjoys milder winters, with Hvar being particularly renowned for its clement weather during the winter months as much as its beauty.

Flights to accommodate every price range fly direct to Split, Dubrovnik and Zadar from many UK airports. From there, ferries to the innermost island, Brac take less than an hour. Longer boat trips to outlying Hvar and Vis become an idyllic part of your holiday in their own right.

Good value for your pound
Although a member of the EU, Croatia has not adopted the single currency, so anything purchased in Dalmatia must be paid for in Kunas and not Euros.

Despite this, Croatia relies on the European community for much of its trade, meaning currency values respond in a similar manner to the Euro. For much of 2015, the Kuna has been an extremely attractive prospect for your British pounds; you could see your money going a long way if you visit this winter.

It’s the perfect time to visit Palermo

Palermo, Sicily is the largest city and capital of Italy’s southernmost province. Originally founded by the Phoenicians in 734 BC, Palermo and its principal high street, Corso Calatifimi, have 2,700 years of recorded history, and the area’s archaeological sites span eight millennia.

Deep and complex, Palermo is a city of ornate churches and stately opera theatres, bustling open air markets and evocative architecture. It is a city for people who love cities, and winter is a perfect time to visit.

Traditional Markets and Fantastic Street Food
Book self-catering accommodation and shop at central Palermo’s bustling street markets — Ballaro Market, Mercato del Capo and La Vucciria — for fresh local produce and unique ingredients. Taste Sicily’s sweet oranges and tart lemons.

Snack on Palermo’s famous street food: don’t miss the arancina, stuffed deep-fried rice balls, and Sfincione, a rich deep-dish pizza traditionally made with onions and anchovies. Bring home a fresh loaf of bread and a box of Sicily’s inimitable pastries to have with dinner.

Stunning Art, Architecture and Archaeology
Palermo’s churches span many centuries of architectural history and are perhaps the city’s greatest treasures. From the charm of fading, ancient parishes to the magnificence of the baroque Church of the Gesù, there is much that’s worth exploring.

For a memorable night out, see a show at the recently renovated Teatro Massimo and reserve a table at one of Palermo’s excellent restaurants.

To ensure access to Palermo’s most ancient buildings and sites and learn about their history, book an archaeology tour. Bring a picnic to Palermo’s Riserva di capo Gallo to see the region’s beautiful, rocky Mediterranean coast. Lined with ragged cliffs and hidden coves, Riserva di capo Gallo is a treat to explore without the summer crowds.

Perfect Walking Weather

Winter is the rainy season in the Mediterranean region, and that discourages some travellers from visiting in the cooler months. However, things aren’t really all that bad: visitors to Palermo in November, December and January are as likely to encounter rain as visitors to London in June, July and August! On average, there’s some rain one out of three days.

Winter temperatures in Palermo usually range between 13C and 18C (55F and 65F), perfect for walking. Winter in Sicily is crisp and moderate, just right for urban exploration.

For those who enjoy historic architecture and are fascinated by archaeology and ancient history, Palermo is unmissable. For lovers of food, music and urban texture, it is a joy to explore and a place to return to again and again.