International Injury Experts Reveal Top Travel Safety Tips For Holidaymakers
As further countries announce they are joining the travel green-list, millions of keen holidaymakers eagerly anticipate jetting off to a host of non-restricted destinations.
While international, green-listed travel in the coming months is set to soar, Stewarts, the UK’s litigation-only law firm, provide essential tourism safety advice as the world gradually reopens following the impact of the global pandemic.
Christopher Deacon, Stewarts’ International injury partner, said:
“In the event of a serious injury, the cost of medical treatment and repatriation to the UK can run into several hundred thousand pounds. If you are injured while participating in an activity that your travel insurer will not cover, then you could be left facing a big bill. We have represented many clients who have had to rely on the uncertainty of crowd-funding and charitable donations to pay for the cost of medical repatriation to the UK following serious injury, when this can be easily avoided for the relatively small cost of a good travel insurance policy.
“It’s fantastic to see borders reopening, and many of us are excited for a long overdue holiday abroad. At the same time, it’s important to be alert and take steps to remain safe as we enter the summer holiday season and once again start to explore international travel.”
As the nation prepares for the potential easing of UK lockdown restrictions on July 19th, what additional steps can holidaymakers take to ensure they are safe during the pandemic?
Christopher Deacon's Top tips for travel as the world reopens following COVID-19
Book a regulated package holiday with a reputable tour operator
Financial protection before passengers even step on the plane is, first and foremost, a reason for booking a package holiday which is regulated under the Package Travel Regulations 2018. The pandemic has put into sharp focus the importance of ensuring money is protected in the event the holiday cannot go ahead, be that COVID-19, or if the tour operator goes bust before or during the holiday.
By booking a package holiday, holidaymakers have an effective means of redress if things go wrong which form part of the package holiday contract, including in the event of serious injury. This will include pre-booked transfers, accommodation and any pre-booked excursions. The tour operator is responsible for the proper performance of the services which form part of the contract, irrespective
of whether those services are provided by another company locally at the holiday destination. This means a claim can be brought against the tour operator in the UK courts upon return home if things go wrong.
If private transfer is being arranged, ensure a fully licensed provider is used. This extends to airport taxis – only use a taxi which has all the appropriate local permits and licences. Pre-book transfers or research in advance who to use and where to pick up a taxi at the destination. This will help ensure the taxi is fully insured in the event of a serious injury.
Arriving at the accommodation/resort
Become familiar with resort surroundings, including any areas which might be considered “high risk” such as the hotel swimming pool. The hospitality and tourism industry have been hit hard by the pandemic, with many staff on furlough for most of the past 18 months. There may still be a skeleton staff looking out for safety and wellbeing, and the usual maintenance checks may not have been undertaken, so take extra care this summer.
Holiday excursions and activities
If possible, pre-book any excursions and activities as part of the package holiday. This enables the protection of being able to pursue the tour operator back in the UK should things go wrong.
Alternatively, in resort bookings should be fully researched beforehand, particularly for high-risk activities like quad biking, water sports and diving. Check out the credentials of the instructors and do not be afraid to ask about liability insurance. Be wary of signing a disclaimer without being provided with full and informed instruction on the activity being undertaken, or without a full understanding of the risks involved.
If an accident occurs
Make sure it is fully reported, not only to the service provider but also to the local authorities. In many countries, to be able to bring a claim for damages following serious injury, it is a procedural requirement to have obtained a local police report and/or to have a formal medical certificate.
This is particularly important following Brexit as any claim for serious injury may need to be pursued in the country where the incident occurred. Be sure to involve an interpreter wherever possible to confirm the accuracy of any documents produced in the local language.
Always seek prompt medical attention; if on a package holiday, the tour operator has an obligation to assist in any serious injuries, even if the tour operator may not be at fault. Do not delay in seeking legal advice – very often this will be most helpful while still in resort as a specialist international injury lawyer will be able to provide guidance on the evidence to gather for protection. In these circumstances, it is often best to speak with a lawyer back home rather than a local lawyer, even those local lawyers may appear on the lists provided by the FCDO.
Passengers should make sure they are fully insured, including for any high risk or adventure activities. It is worth taking the time to read the key sections of travel insurance policies before taking it out, particularly those relating to medical expenses.
Use a credit card
Image by Michal Jarmoluk
When booking a holiday or any holiday services locally at the chosen destination, use a credit card. For payments over £100, passengers will benefit from the additional protections of section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, which enables them to bring a claim against a credit card company in the UK, including for compensation following serious injury if all other means of redress fail.