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Bellwood Prestbury Agree Partnership With Voyager Insurance To Launch A New Affordable Online Travel Insurance Plan

Specialist global insurance intermediary Bellwood Prestbury has selected Guildford based Voyager Insurance Services as their preferred provider to launch a new on-line travel insurance plan created for both UK and EEA residents.

With a choice of three core plans: single, multi-trip and long stay cover for up to 24 months - business trips are included as standard and all plans are available to individuals and groups with the option to include most pre-existing medical conditions.

The new plan offers automatic cover for a huge range of leisure activities at no additional charge including bungee jumping, snow skiing, hot air ballooning, water tubing, zip wiring, scuba diving and even dog sledging.

Andrew Apps, Head of Global Healthcare at Bellwood Prestbury commented, "By bringing together a choice of comprehensive cover benefits and affordable premiums, this unique programme recognises the demands and requirements of those looking for high quality but affordable travel insurance and with a dedicated web site at www.bellwoodprestbury.com/travel the process of choosing the right policy has been designed to be as easy and straight forward as possible, enabling cover be put in place within a matter of minutes."

Bellwood Prestbury is a leading global insurance specialist, arranging high-risk and complex cover for individuals, companies and organisations throughout the world. From oil and gas contractors in Iraq to humanitarian workers providing vital support in Africa, Bellwood Prestbury offers independent, affordable and tailored solutions to businesses located in most parts of the world by sourcing the right balance between premiums and benefit protection.

Bellwood Prestbury is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) the regulatory body overseeing UK financial services firms. It is also a member of British Expertise, the leading UK organisation for British companies offering professional services internationally, and members of other specialist industry bodies. Bellwood Prestbury is accredited by the British Assessment Bureau to ISO 9001.

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Thailand Travel Warning Advice News: Nationwide Election Called For 2nd February 2014

A nationwide election has been called for 2 February.

Some polling stations will be open for advance voting on 26 January. There are likely to be protests at polling stations and some of these could turn violent.

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel to Thailand. Over 800,000 British nationals visit Thailand every year. Most visits are trouble-free, but incidents of crime (sometimes violent) can affect visitors.

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Bahrain Travel Advice and Warnings: 30 November 2013 March Planned

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel. Around 8,000 to 10,000 British nationals live in Bahrain, and thousands more visit each year. Most visits are trouble free.

Female visitors should take care when travelling alone at night. You should use one of the reputable taxi companies.

On Saturday, 30 November, a march is planned from the entrance of Daih village to Daih Cemetery, starting at 1530. Demonstrations, protests and disruption are expected to continue. These activities may include attempts to disrupt traffic, protests in villages and near economic centres, burning tyres, throwing Molotov cocktails, and the possible use of improvised explosive devices. As a result there could be clashes between government security forces and protesters. While there have been no direct threats or attacks on UK citizens to date, it is strongly recommended that you maintain a constant awareness of your surroundings wherever you are on the island.

Violent protests do pose a risk to those who might inadvertently find themselves in the vicinity of an active demonstration. If you encounter a large public gathering or demonstration, leave the area immediately. Likewise, if you see any suspect item, do not approach it or touch it. Move away from the vicinity and notify the police, calling 999 or the Police Hotline 8000 8008.

We would also like to draw your attention to a recent reminder from the Ministry of Interior regarding the compulsory carrying of photographic ID for all residents of and visitors to Bahrain. Under Bahraini law, it is an offence not to be able to present photographic ID, if asked to do so by a member of the Bahraini authorities, and you may be subject to a fine of up to 300BHD.

Travel on the main routes during daylight hours is generally orderly. There are some police checkpoints. In September 2012 the Ministry for the Interior issued a warning about explosive devices on major highways. Don’t approach or touch any suspect item; move away from it and call the police on 999 or 8000 8008.

During demonstrations, roads can become blocked, resulting in diversions. These may re-route you to areas you are unfamiliar with. You should familiarise yourself with alternative routes to and from areas you frequent.

Developments in Syria, Iraq and on the Middle East Peace Process continue to have an impact on local public opinion in the region. You should be aware of local sensitivities on these issues. Follow news reports and be alert to local and regional developments, which may trigger public disturbances.

The Government of Bahrain has imposed a curfew on the waterways around Bahrain between 6pm and 4am. You should respect this curfew.

You must have legal status in Bahrain when you depart.

There is a general threat from terrorism. Terrorists continue to issue statements threatening to carry out attacks in the Gulf region.  

 

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GeoBlue® Introduces Global EAP Services for Expats

GeoBlue®, a leading provider of international health insurance for expatriates, announced today that it is introducing global employee assistance (EAP) and wellness coaching for its group members.

These services are offered in partnership with Workplace Options, the world's leading global employee effectiveness company. GeoBlue is the trade name for the international health insurance programs of Worldwide Insurance Services, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

"GeoBlue selected Workplace Options based on the company's global reach, resources and track record for top notch service," said Rob Howard, Director of Group Product Sales for GeoBlue. "Our new global EAP and wellness coaching fully round out GeoBlue's outstanding wellness and counseling services for international assignees and their families."

Workplace Options' global EAP services are offered outside of the United States and include confidential counseling and support in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. All calls are live-answered 24-hours a day by mental health professionals qualified to provide support for work, personal and family challenges. GeoBlue members also have access to extensive web-based content and services from Workplace Options at www.geo-blue.com.

What's more, Workplace Options collaborates with Mayo Clinic to deliver enhanced the wellness coaching services now offered by GeoBlue, including weight loss, tobacco cessation and stress management. GeoBlue also offers online wellness services such as health assessments and news, trends and advice on exercise, diet and stress reduction programming provided by the Mayo Clinic.

"We are very pleased to be offering our services through GeoBlue," said Dean Debnam, chief executive officer of Workplace Options. "As a global company committed to increasing employee effectiveness worldwide, this relationship will allow us the opportunity to improve the lives of thousands of expats and their families." GeoBlue began rolling out its global EAP and wellness coaching services to new and existing group expatriate health insurance members in October.

GeoBlue is the trade name for the international health insurance programs of Worldwide Insurance Services, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Setting the industry standard, GeoBlue's mission is to provide peace of mind to long- and short-term global travelers by offering competitive insurance protection and technology-powered assistance, including an elite community of thousands of carefully selected, contracted doctors and hospitals in almost every country in the world as well as its signature destination databases, mobile tools and concierge-level services.

The scope of GeoBlue's services and technology creates a complete, reliable, convenient way to keep international travelers and expats healthy and productive. GeoBlue provides group and individual health insurance plans. For more information on group plans, visit www.geo-blue.com.

For information on individual plans, visit www.geobluetravelinsurance.com

Workplace Options helps employees balance their work, family and personal life in order to make their lives healthier, easier and more productive. The company's world-class employee support and work-life services provide information, resources, referrals and consultation on a variety of issues ranging from dependent care, legal and financial issues to stress management and wellness.

Drawing from an international network of credentialed providers and professionals, Workplace Options is the world's largest integrated employee support services and work-life provider. Service centers in Raleigh, N.C., London, Toronto, Dublin, Singapore, Panama, and Tokyo support more than 42 million employees in over 32,000 organizations, across more than 200 countries and territories.

To learn more, visit www.workplaceoptions.com.

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Trinidad and Tobago Travel Advice

Over 30,000 British nationals visit Trinidad and Tobago every year. Most visits are trouble-free.

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel. Robbery and other crimes targeting tourists have occurred. Trinidad and Tobago are rarely affected by hurricanes, but severe tropical storms can occur, which can result in localised flooding and landslides.

Trinidad

There is a high level of gang related violent crime in Trinidad, particularly in the inner city neighbourhoods east of Port of Spain’s city centre, Laventille, Morvant and Barataria. This crime tends to occur within local communities but can sometimes affect visitors. Take care when travelling on the highway between downtown east Port of Spain and Piarco Airport, particularly around the Beetham Highway area, where violent protests have occurred.

You should maintain at least the same level of security awareness as you would in the UK and make sure your living accommodation is secure.

Don’t carry large amounts of cash or wear eye-catching jewellery. Use a hotel safe to store valuables, money and passports. Don’t walk alone in deserted areas even in daylight. Take care when withdrawing money from ATMs.

There has been at least 1 instance of violent sexual assault in the Chaguaramas/Macqueripe area. This occured in the middle of the day and close to a road.

Theft from vehicles and property occurs in parts of downtown Port of Spain and other towns/cities. Take particular care around the port area or downtown, especially at night, and avoid straying into areas affected by gang violence.

There have been robberies, some involving firearms, at tourist sites, including Fort George, the Pitch Lake, Las Cuevas beach and at supermarket car parks, shopping malls, nightclubs, restaurants and business premises. There is a higher risk from opportunistic crime during the festive period and carnival season.

Tobago

Most visits to Tobago are trouble free, but tourists (including British nationals) have been robbed. The inability of the authorities to catch and prosecute offenders remains a concern. You should maintain at least the same level of security awareness as you would in the UK and make sure your living accommodation is secure. Don’t carry large amounts of cash or wear eye-catching jewellery. Use a hotel safe to store valuables, money and passports. Petty theft from cars is common. Villas, particularly those in isolated areas, should have adequate security, including external security lighting, grilles and overnight security guards. Don’t walk alone in deserted areas even in daylight. This includes beaches like Englishman’s Bay and King Peter’s bay unless you are in an organised group. Consult your tour operator if in doubt. Be vigilant at all times and carry a mobile phone with roaming capability for use in emergency.

Road travel

The standard of driving in Trinidad and Tobago is mixed. High speed road accidents on the main highways in Trinidad often result in fatalities. Some roads are narrow and winding, and the surface of a low standard. Take care when driving. If you don’t have a vehicle, use hotel taxis to get around, particularly after dark.

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Philippines Travel Advice and Warnings: 7.2 Magnitude Earthquake On The Island Of Bohol 15 October 2013

Around 113,282 British nationals visited the Philippines in 2012. Most visits are trouble-free.

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

A 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the island of Bohol on 15 October. British nationals affected by the earthquake can contact the British Embassy, Manila on +63 02 858 2200.

Earthquakes

The Philippines is in an earthquake zone. The last significant earthquake was in 1990 in Central Luzon when over 1,100 people were killed. To learn more about what to do before, during and after an earthquake, see the website of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Typhoons

Around 20 typhoons hit the Philippines each year. Most typhoons occur from June to November. There may be flooding and landslides. You should monitor the progress of approaching storms on the websites of the Philippines Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and typhoon.com.

Volcanoes

There are numerous volcanoes in Philippines, any of which can erupt without warning. Sudden steam and ash explosions may occur at any time. The capacity of the Philippine emergency and rescue services to deal with large natural disasters is limited. Check news reports and follow local advice before travelling to volcanic areas. Avoid volcanic areas during and immediately after heavy rainfall when there is increased risk of lava flows.

Terrorism

There is a high threat from terrorism, including kidnapping. The FCO is aware of a credible and imminent kidnap threat against foreigners in Zamboanga del Norte Province in Mindanao. On 10 October the US Embassy issued an emergency message to US citizens warning them of the continuing threat from terrorism in southern Mindanao, including Davao, North and South Cotabato, Sultan Kudurat, Sarangani and Maguindinao.

On 16 September 2013 the Philippine Bureau of Immigration warned foreign nationals against joining rallies and other mass action protests. Foreign nationals taking part in these rallies may face deportation for violating Philippine immigration laws. On 9 September 2013 armed clashes took place between militants and the Philippines security forces in Zamboanga city. Sporadic fighting continues and the city’s airport has been closed.

A curfew is in place from 8pm until 5am. The FCO advise against all travel to this region. Any British nationals in Zamboanga city should remain indoors and follow the instructions of local authorities.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to south-west Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago because of on-going terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups. The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the remainder of Mindanao for the same reasons.

Air Travel

With the exception of Philippine Airlines (PAL), all air carriers certified in the Philippines are banned from operating to/from the EU.

 

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Holidaymakers Reveal Their Car Hire Concerns

Vehicle hire and travel insurance specialist Questor Insurance highlights research which reveals travellers’ most common car hire concerns, and their motivations for hiring a car on their annual holidays.

With recent figures revealing that soaring temperatures in the UK have meant that a fifth of holidaymakers will be heading to foreign shores this month for the first time this year* autumn could prove to be a busy season for Brits hiring a car abroad. A survey of 5,300 people** offered insight into holidaymakers’ key concerns when hiring a car for their overseas trip, with almost two-thirds (64%) of those surveyed arguing that they were worried about extra charges, while just over half (51%) believed that they would be charged for extra services or products by rental companies.

Some of these concerns are founded as a Mail Online investigation conducted earlier in the year revealed that drivers hiring a car on holiday could be hit with more than £500 in car hire extras***. This included charges attached to anything from hiring a sat nav and putting a child car seat in place to paying for extra insurance.

Commenting Questor Insurance CEO Andrew Lawrence, said: “Heading away on holiday can already present a large expense for both individuals and families, from the cost of hiring a villa to the cost of keeping the little ones entertained while you’re away. “If you are planning to hire a car as part of your trip, taking out car hire excess insurance in advance, means that you can feel safe in the knowledge that the excess charges in your insurance are met to a pre-specified limit. “In addition, you may stand to make savings on the cost of your excess insurance, as buying from a third party provider in advance rather than from the car hire company when picking up the rental vehicle is generally considered to be cheaper.”

The research also revealed that despite some concerns, travellers also felt that there were numerous advantages to hiring a car on holiday, with 73% arguing that it gave them more freedom on holiday.

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Mexico Rising

Sustainable economic growth of over three percent, an unemployment rate of less than five percent and total debt corresponding to around 40 percent of gross domestic product: Mexico is prospering.

Following Brazil's example, the new government, led by president Enrique Peña Nieto, wants to use the stable growth in order to further strengthen the growing middle class. In the past, the 'clasmedieros' had already begun to expand significantly. Over the past ten years, the middle class has grown by a good nine million people.

Today, around 65 million Mexicans, over half of the total population, belong to the middle class. Around 98 percent of Mexicans now have electricity. The number of people who own a telephone has increased from 36 percent to 43 percent in the last few years; for computers, the figure has increased from 9 percent to 29 percent, and for fridges from 68 percent to 82 percent.

And Mexico has another distinguishing feature: the country of the Aztecs is young. Over half of the population is under 30, and people are becoming increasingly well qualified. The proportion of university graduates is also relatively high for Latin America at 8.4 percent. Almost 50 percent of all 15 to 24 year olds in Mexico now attend a secondary school. Simultaneously, at just under seven percent, the illiteracy rate has almost halved in recent years.

More mobile phones, computers and other consumer goods: with increasing prosperity and regular income, our natural wish to protect our possessions against loss and set money aside for retirement grows too. "This environment can offer Allianz enormous opportunities for growth", Sergio Ghibellini, CEO of Allianz in Mexico, is convinced.

"Due to the country's economic power and a market penetration rate that is still low and thanks to a reliable legal framework, the insurance market in Mexico will experience above-average growth over the next few years, and Allianz will be able to participate in this," continues the CEO.

Since its entry onto the market in 1985, Allianz in Mexico has continuously expanded its range of products for both corporate and retail customers. It now offers a wide selection of property and casualty (P&C), life and health insurance products. With around 600,000 customers at present, Allianz has a sound customer base in the second largest insurance market in Latin America, which is to grow significantly in the coming years as sales channels are strengthened. Allianz insurance products are primarily sold in Mexico by brokers and agents.

In the area of P&C, Allianz Mexico is already among the front runners in the Allianz Group, with a combined ratio of 90.8 percent. In 2012, gross written premiums increased by nine percent to 266.5 million euros. Operating profit in this segment rose significantly by 46 percent, to 19.5 million euros. Mexico is not just young, however. Mexico is getting ever older, too.

Thanks to fundamental improvements in the healthcare sector, the average life expectancy for people there has risen consistently over the past few years, and now comes in at 77. This means that the emerging middle class is also starting to turn more attention to issues like healthcare and retirement provision.

This is also reflected in the figures for Allianz in Mexico. In the past three years alone, gross written premiums in the area of life and health have tripled to their current level of around 150 million euros. Nonetheless, market penetration in this segment still accounts for less than one percent of the gross domestic product.

Sergio Ghibellini: "This shows just what enormous potential for growth there is for us here."

Experts calculate that with predicted economic growth of four percent, consumer spending will increase by 10 to 15 billion US-dollars per year. Part of this money will certainly be allocated to safeguarding this prosperity and to retirement provision.

Sergio Ghibellini: "We are well prepared to meet this demand with suitable products and services."

Mexico's example illustrates once again how important sustainable growth is for the development of a stable middle class, which in return reinforces consumption with its purchasing power and thus ensures continued growth, more jobs, increased prosperity and stable domestic demand. And finally, yet another piece of good news: according to a recent study, Mexican consumers are currently assessing their financial situation more positively than at any other time in the last five years. Solid finances, sustainable growth, an expanding middle class and optimism: Mexico has more to offer than just sun, sand and beaches.

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Census Bureau Releases Health Insurance Coverage Estimates for All Counties

The Census Bureau has released its 2011 Small Area Health Insurance Estimates (SAHIE). The estimates show the number of people with and without health insurance for all states and each of the nation's roughly 3,140 counties. The statistics are provided by broad age group, sex, race and Hispanic origin, and at income levels that reflect thresholds for state and federal assistance programs. The data can be used to assess annual changes in health insurance coverage from 2008 through 2011.

The release includes a 2011 highlights document that describes demographic and economic differences in health insurance status across states and counties, as well as geographic variation and time trends in health insurance status. The document also includes a number of maps that are available for download from the SAHIE website. SAHIE can be a useful tool when evaluating the impacts of health care policy changes at the state and county levels. SAHIE provides estimates of the uninsured at incomes 0 to 138 percent of the federal poverty threshold. This group may qualify for Medicaid in participating states.

The 0 to 400 percent group provides estimates of the uninsured population that may qualify for the Health Insurance Exchanges or for Medicaid. To make quick evaluations of your state's potential program participants, visit the SAHIE interactive data and mapping tool on the SAHIE website. The tool allows users to create and download state and county custom tables and thematic maps, and state health insurance coverage time trend charts.

The SAHIE program models health insurance coverage by combining survey data with population estimates and administrative records. Specifically, it uses the American Community Survey, demographic population estimates, aggregated federal tax returns, participation records for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, County Business Patterns, Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program participation records, and the 2010 Census.

At present, SAHIE is the only source of health insurance estimates for all counties. There are no county estimates derived from the Current Population Survey. In September, the Census Bureau will release 2012 health insurance coverage estimates for counties with a population of 65,000 or more from the American Community Survey. The following month, similar estimates will be released for counties with a population of 20,000 or more using data collected from 2010 to 2012.

In December, for the first time, statistics on health insurance coverage for all areas, regardless of size, will be released based on American Community Survey data collected from 2008 to 2012.

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Latest Egypt Travel Intelligence

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to the Governorate of North Sinai due to the significant increase in criminal activity and recent terrorist attacks on police and security forces that have resulted in deaths.

Travel and Medical Insurance

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

In view of continued unrest and the evolving political situation in Egypt, the FCO advise against all but essential travel to the rest of Egypt except for resorts on the Red Sea in South Sinai and those resorts on the Egyptian mainland in Red Sea governorate (including Hurghada). In the governorate of South Sinai the FCO advise against all but essential travel, with the exception of (i) the Red Sea Resorts including those in the entire region of Sharm el Sheikh, Taba, Nuweiba and Dahab; (ii) the St Catherine’s Monastery World Heritage Site; (iii) road travel between the Red Sea resorts; (iv) road travel from the Red Sea resorts to St Catherine’s Monastery approaching from the east; and (v) transfers between the resorts and the airports of Taba and Sharm el Sheikh.

The FCO do not advise against the use of Cairo airport as a transit stop providing you do not leave the airport grounds. There have been access problems on some of the roads to Cairo airport, chiefly Saleh Salem Road. If you are already in a part of Egypt where the FCO advise against all but essential travel, you should consider whether you have a pressing need to remain.

If you decide to remain in Egypt, you should stay at or close to home or a place of safety (eg your hotel), keep a low profile and pay close attention to your personal safety, particularly in the larger cities.

You should avoid crowds. You should follow the regulations set by the local authorities and obey curfews. Make sure you keep valid photographic identification with you at all times.

Protests and demonstrations

In Cairo on 14 August Egyptian security forces ended sit-in protests at Nahda Square close to Cairo University in Giza and at Rabaa Al-Adaweya mosque in Nasr City.

This resulted in at least 500 deaths. Violent clashes also occurred near Mostafa Mahmoud Square in Mohandiseen, Cairo. On 17 August there were further violent clashes in Ramses Square and at the Al Fatah Mosque between protesters and security forces. Demonstrations planned for the afternoon of Sunday 18th August, including outside the Constitutional Court in Maadi and Roxy Square in Heliopolis were cancelled by the organisers because of security concerns.

There have been demonstrations in other parts of Egypt, including Alexandria, Hurghada and Luxor, some of which have turned violent. Further demonstrations are likely and could take place in any part of the country. Army and security forces have been deployed in anticipation of further protests and rallies in the coming days. Train services across Egypt are suspended. A curfew was declared on 14 August between 7pm and 6am local time.

This is expected to continue for several weeks. The governorates affected by this are Cairo, Giza, Alexandria, South Sinai (except for Sharm el Sheikh, Taha and Dahab) North Sinai, Suez, Behera, Minya, Assiut, Souhag, Beni Suef, Ismailia, Qena and Fayoum. A national state of emergency has been declared for Egypt for a period of 1 month. You are strongly advised to avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings. If you become aware of any nearby protests, leave the area immediately. Don’t attempt to cross road blocks erected by the security forces or protesters. There is a serious risk of violence and sexual assault at demonstrations. NGOs report more than 100 rapes and sexual assaults against women in demonstrations since 30 June. Foreign and Egyptian women have been attacked. See Political and security situation

Red Sea Resort areas

Enhanced security measures are in place to protect the resort areas. There have been no violent protests in the South Sinai resorts during recent disturbances in Egypt In Hurghada on 14 August there were some violent clashes, in an area away from tourist resorts. One man was killed.

On 16 August there was a demonstration near the marina area. You are strongly advised to follow the advice of the local authorities and avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings. If you become aware of any nearby protests, leave the area immediately. Do not attempt to cross road blocks erected by the security forces or protestors.

Terrorism

There is a high threat from terrorism.

Although security is tight throughout the country, especially in resort areas, there remains a high risk of attacks which could be indiscriminate, including in public places frequented by foreigners.

Travel and Medical Insurance

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

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Medical, Healthcare, Expatriate And Travel Insurance

A guide to leading international medical, healthcare, expatriate and travel insurance underwriters, companies, providers, operating within leisure, expatriate and corporate travel business markets, globally.

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