Five tips for a worry-free summer holiday

Five tips for a worry-free summer holiday

The FINANCIAL -- AGA has 5 tips for a safe and worry-free summer holiday, according to Allianz.

1. Given the current events in Greece and Tunisia, many people are considering canceling their holiday abroad. Can I rebook or cancel free of charge?

That depends! If you want to cancel your holiday in Greece at short notice, then there will be no getting round the cancelation fees. This is because you need an objective risk to your safety or health to be able to cancel or rebook a holiday free of charge. The German Foreign Office has to have issued a travel warning as well. As things stand at the moment, we do not expect a warning to be issued for Greece.

The situation in Tunisia is a bit different: although the German Foreign Office in Berlin has not yet issued a general travel warning for Tunisia, many tour operators (e.g. TUI, Thomas Cook, TUI, FTI, Alltours, JT Touristik) are offering people the chance to cancel and rebook free of charge - in some cases for departures between now and October 31 (as at July 8, 2015).

2. I've booked a holiday to Tunisia. Will my travel cancelation insurance policy pay out?

No! Travel cancellation or travel curtailment insurance pays out in a large number of cases relating to personal circumstances, e.g. in the event of death, serious accidental injury, unexpectedly severe illness, pregnancy, damage to property, e.g. caused by fire. It also pays out if you have to resit an exam that you failed as part of your school, vocational college or university education. The loss of your job due to unexpected termination for operational reasons on the part of your employer might also be one of the reasons covered. But if someone wants to cancel their trip due to recent developments in Greece or Tunisia, then they are not covered by this sort of insurance.

3. I'm currently planning my holiday. Do I need special health insurance?

In Greece, many community-based doctors are already only treating their patients in return for payment in cash. So travelers should make sure that they have an international health insurance policy to give them the status of private patients. If a doctor insists on payment in cash, the insurer will reimburse the amount as long as an invoice is presented. You should never visit the doctor without some cash on you anyway, as some services may have to be settled there and then in other countries. And if you rely on certain medication, you should take it with you from Germany so that you don't run the risk of being faced with empty shelves in the pharmacy.

Greek hospitals are also under financial pressure. So if you're a traveler who can prove he is solvent and can be treated as a private patient if the worst comes to the worst: all the better. After all, if you're unlucky, you could end up being faced with costs of around EUR 800 a day for your stay in a Greek hospital. NB: if you need to return to Germany because your condition is serious, you can expect to have to pay EUR 16,000 for the privilege in Greece. In Tunisia, the cost can be as much as EUR 25,000 Euro. Be warned - return transport from Australia can easily cost up to EUR 120,000! In general, the statutory health insurance scheme cannot assume the costs of emergency medical flights like these in general.

4. I'm going to be driving in Greece. Can I expect to receive the services under my breakdown assistance package for travel abroad?

To date, there have been no restrictions imposed on the arrangement and organization of services in the event of a breakdown or an accident, and no indication that such services are likely to be restricted.

 5. What is the supply situation for goods and cash like (specifically in Greece)?

As the Greek Ministry of Tourism confirmed only a few days ago, the supply situation is secure so far, both on the mainland and on the Greek islands. The Ministry says that this covers fuel supplies and all products and services required for guests' day-to-day use. If banks become insolvent, however, supply bottlenecks are likely - even in hotels. This is because the country's own agricultural sector is not sufficient to provide the whole of Greece with adequate supplies. Hotel buffets would have less on offer, but wouldn't be completely empty. Tour operators are currently preparing for this sort of situation.

According to the Ministry, visitors to Greece who want to execute transactions or withdraw money from ATMs using foreign EC or credit cards are not affected by the restrictions on the movement of capital imposed by the Greek government.

As far as their travel funds are concerned, travelers shouldn't rely on one single form of payment anyway, but should take sufficient cash in addition to their EC and credit cards. The question as to how much cash a traveler needs depends on which services he has already booked or paid for in advance. Travelers on a package holiday only need money for incidentals such as souvenirs, additional meals in restaurants or the odd snack, as they've usually paid for their trip, i.e. the flight, hotel, hire car and meals, in advance. Tour operators buy in tourism services such as flights, hotel accommodation or bus transfers in advance, meaning that they are contractually secured. The tour operators themselves have also supplied their partner hotels with cash and made sure that petrol reserves have been accumulated.

So as not to be left in the embarrassing situation of standing in front of an empty ATM, AGA recommends, in general, that you take more cash with you than usual in small denominations and store it in your hotel safe.

Travelers should contact the assistance hotline in emergencies. You can find the telephone number on the insurance policy. AGA in Germany is working closely with the Greek branch of AGA in Athens to ensure that travelers to Greece are given as much support as possible in the event of any problems.