Questor Insurance Travel Blog


Moving property – can you do it all yourself?

Date Created: 13 April 2018 by Questor Insurance

Van1If you’re approaching the end of your tenancy or intend to live somewhere new, moving property can be a stressful, drawn-out and often expensive experience.

However, it is possible to keep the costs down if you’re prepared to do a lot of the hard work yourself.

From packing boxes and finalising bills to cleaning and considering the moving day itself, there is plenty to consider.

Packing

When it comes to packing all your items, there are some simple tricks that can help to bring down your stress levels.

It’s best to label all of your boxes with what’s inside them, and to name the room they are intended for – this makes it easier to put them in rooms when you arrive so you don’t just pile boxes at the door.

If you have to take any furniture apart it’s wise to put all fixing into sealed bags and to tape them to the furniture they come from.

The furniture should be the first thing to be moved into your new abode, as this will free up space and make the rest of unpacking an easier process.

Cleaning

If you are currently renting a property then it’s highly likely that your tenancy agreement will require a professional clean at the end of the rental period.

While some of these costs are hard to avoid, you can do a lot of the lesser work yourself, meaning that the professionals should have less to do, in turn bringing the associated costs down.

End of tenancy cleaning costs are also the single largest cause of deposit deductions so it’s worth considering if any outlays on cleaning will result in you getting more of your deposit back.

Moving

The amount of items you have – and especially large or heavy furniture – will often determine the sort of vehicle you need for the move.

If you only have small items, or don’t have many belongings to take, then a small van or even a car will often suffice.

However, if you have larger items you may wish to consider hiring a van to drive yourself, contacting a man with a van type of service to assist you, or finding a suitable removals firm.

Of course, if you do intend to hire a van for the big move then you may want to consider van hire excess insurance to cover the excess should the vehicle be damaged or stolen.

This provides added peace of mind and you may even be surprised at how little the additional cover can cost. Get a quote today to see for yourself.

Your essential car hire checklist

Date Created: 11 April 2018 by Questor Insurance

Checklist1If you’re planning to travel around Europe or even further afield this summer, hiring a vehicle can provide the perfect opportunity to explore.

But while hiring vehicles provides a great deal of flexibility, there are plenty of things that you need to consider, before, during and after you travel.

Ahead of your trip

It’s best to look around at various car hire options to find the best one for you – you’ll want to consider things like boot space, and if you prefer a manual or automatic.

If you can in advance it’s wise to do so, as you should find you have greater vehicle choice and a better array of deals to choose from.

You’ll also want to check your insurance cover and most notably the excess, as it may be worth investing in car hire excess insurance too, which would cover the excess you would need to pay in the event that the vehicle was damaged or stolen.

Prior to driving overseas, you should also check the local driving regulations to see if any are applicable to where you are going.

In Switzerland for example, you must have a warning triangle in your vehicle at all times and you’ll need to have a vignette (vehicle sticker) if you intend to use the motorways, even if just for an hour or two. Expect to be fined heavily if you’re pulled over without one.

If you intend to hire a vehicle after flying, be sure to confirm the start time of the rental and to update the car hire firm should there be delays, as they may otherwise cancel reservations.

You may also want to print of an English translation of the European Accident Statement before you leave, just in case something does go wrong.

When you get to the car hire desk

It’s always handy to have a spare credit card available, although this should be in the name of the driver listed on the rental.

This is for peace of mind as much as anything, although there are reports of rental desks saying a card is declined where drivers have opted against added extras or have sorted their own insurance.

You’ll need to check all of the details carefully too, as if you fail to dispute any extras or unclear items early on then you’ll have to pay them.

Check the car thoroughly when you receive it too and ensure that any marks, dents or scratches are listed on the contract, and that any items that are legally required are available.

When you return your hire car

Ensure you have a receipt that shows when you filled up the car (if a full tank is required) and take photographs of the vehicle again if it cannot be signed back in.

While this should protect you if any disputes occur, know that you can also approach the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association and the European Car Rental Conciliation Service for assistance.

If you are considering car hire excess insurance for your trip, get a quote today and find out how little it can cost.

Skyscanner boosts travel options for iOS customers

Date Created: 06 April 2018 by Questor Insurance

Skyscanner1Travel website Skyscanner has moved to provide extra services for its UK customers by launching a train booking option.

Although it is only available on its iOS app, it means travellers can now compare rail options alongside flights, hotels and care hire.

Chinese online travel firm Ctrip owns Skyscanner, following a £1.4 billion purchase in 2016, and the firm’s Trip.com site will power the new service.

This means customers will have access to 24-hour customer service and the option to makes bookings anywhere and at any time of day.

Rail tickets for the UK network will be included on the app, which will enable individuals to search for the most cost-effective means of travelling across the country.

The addition of rail tickets is said to target those that are not served by nearby airports, and who require a means of accessing those locations.

Skyscanner’s chief technology officer Bryan Dove has said that the company wants to make travel “as easy as possible” for people in Britain.

He explained that being able to use Ctrip’s technology means the company can take advantage of a wealth of information concerning consumer habits to ensure they receive the services they need.

A version of the app is also due to launch on Android in the future, although a date is not yet known for the release.

To date, the app has been downloaded more than 70 million times across the world, while more than 60% of Skyscanner’s web traffic comes via mobile devices.

By having flight, hotel and car hire deals in one place, customers can find the most affordable options for their travel.

However, one aspect that is not included, and which is applicable to those considering hiring a vehicle, is additional insurance cover.

Car hire excess insurance provides cover on the excess fee that a driver would need to pay should their hire vehicle be lost or damaged, therefore providing added peace of mind when travelling. Get a quote today to see how much the added cover could cost.

How can van hire be beneficial to businesses?

Date Created: 01 April 2018 by Questor Insurance

VanHire1For many businesses that are just starting out, funds can be tight and it can be tough to know what money really should be spent on.

Vehicles are one such asset for which expenses can quickly add up, but advances in technology, and the van and car hire sectors more generally, can help businesses to save.

Hiring commercial vehicles removes the need for a large initial outlay and could be a cost effective alternative to purchase depending on how long a vehicle is required for.

According to the latest figures from the British Vehicle and Rental Leasing Association, the number of vans being rented in the UK in 2016 jumped by 16.2%.

A major reason for this was an increased uptake in rental services by businesses that only required seasonal vehicles or who had very small workforces.

It’s not just the initial outlay that a business is protected form in this instance, as maintenance and upkeep costs are also not required.

Nearly every vehicle will depreciate in value over time and that is another factor that must be considered by any business prior to purchase.

Hiring vans or other commercial vehicles has another advantage too, as there is a certain degree of flexibility and simplicity when it comes to increasing or downsizing the size of their vehicle fleet.

A business can find the vehicle that best suits their needs, often when they require it and at short notice.

Any business that opts to hire should also be able to access the latest models of cars and vans, in turn increasing the quality of service that can be provided.

Not only does a business have transport it can rely on, but the majority of hire firms will also provide support should something go wrong.

One aspect to consider if you do want to hire vehicles for a business is van hire excess insurance, as this will cover the excess that would need to be paid should a hire vehicle be damaged or stolen.

Get a quote today and see how the added extra can provide peace of mind when hiring a car or van.

Increased pothole fund a boost for UK drivers

Date Created: 27 March 2018 by Questor Insurance

Pothole1More government money for the repair of potholes across the UK will come as a massive boost to drivers across the UK.

Not only will the move mean better road surfaces but it should also mean reduced damage to vehicles as a result.

The Government has committed an additional £100 million to tackle potholes in the wake of recent poor weather, as unveiled by transport secretary Chris Grayling.

He has suggested that the funding will repair close to two million potholes in the UK road network and follows other efforts to ensure the roads are fit for the future.

Mr Grayling said the finance is necessary following the spate of freezing weather that has caused chaos on UK roads before adding that drivers should be able to enjoy their journeys without having to avoid potholes.

Around £900,000 has also been awarded to eight councils to develop vehicle initiatives that will make the process of spotting potholes easier.

The latest funding follows the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance survey for the current year which warned that it might take 14 years to get roads to a reasonable state.

At the same time, Cycling UK report that local authorities have spent more than £43 dealing with legal costs and compensation claims relating to potholes since 2013.

The RAC has also warned that the state of UK roads could suffer as a result of the cold weather and has suggested that the funding is a “drop in the ocean” when looking at the wider road network.

Potholes are a major issue for all drivers, and especially those with hire vehicles, as they can cause considerable damage to a car or van.

While insurance will often cover any damage, you may still need to pay an excess fee should the vehicle be damaged and that could amount to hundreds or thousands of pounds.

However, if you do plan to hire a vehicle, opting for car hire vehicle excess insurance could cover the outlay. Get a quote today to see how much the additional cover may cost.

Exploring Iceland by car

Date Created: 12 March 2018 by Questor Insurance

Iceland1Iceland is a truly spectacular country, packed with beautiful natural scenery, stunning coastal settings and picturesque buildings.

It’s also a prime spot to spy aurora borealis – the Northern Lights – in their true glory, and is definitely a country best explored by car.

However the weather also has a part to play, as wintery conditions often continue through to April and visitors that hire cars will need to ensure they are prepared.

The capital Reykjavik is relatively easy to get around using public transport and by walking, but venturing beyond it requires a vehicle.

Highway 1 circles the island and you can see all of the main region’s by driving along it. In the summer you could do the journey in just over a day, but it’s more fun to stop off and sightsee on the way.

What to consider

Although it is well maintained, the road is still susceptible to sudden weather changes and heavy snowfall, which means drivers need to take care.

The good news is that you can hire manual and automatic cars that are set up for driving on the right-hand side of the road.

You’ll need winter tyres by law in the winter and may need them in spring – most rental companies can supply the necessary equipment.

Any driver will also need to have their driving licence in their possession at all times when they are behind the wheel and you could be fined if you are stopped by the police and cannot produce it.

If you intend to hire a car, you may wish to consider car hire excess insurance to cover what you would need to pay should your car be damaged or stolen.

Where to visit

Reykjavik is packed full of restaurants, shops and bars, while the original geyser at Geysir, Pingvellir, the waterfalls at Gulfoss and the renowned Blue Lagoon are all within easy reach.

Snaefellsnes Peninsula offers accessible hiking while the most spectacular scenery can be found in northwest of the country, although there are few settlements.

Akureyri is known as Iceland’s second city and there’s plenty of spectacular scenery nearby, as the landscape is dominated by past volcanic activity.

If you visit in the summer months, then a trip to the volcanic island Heimaey is a must, as it plays host to one of the largest puffin colonies in the world.

Two thirds of car hire firms overcharge for repair costs

Date Created: 05 March 2018 by Questor Insurance

SeatCar1Two in three car hire customers are billed more than the cost of repairs should an incident happen when out on the road, an investigation from Which? Travel has found.

On average, customers are billed three times more than the actual cost of the repair, with the consumer watchdog having studied multiple car firms from across Europe.

Shockingly, Which? found that some customers were billed up to 30 times the price of the repair as car hire firms vastly inflated the costs.

The watchdog invested 12 cases where drivers claimed they were overcharged for repairs, and in eight of the cases, independent garages said they would do the work for less than the quote from the car hire firm.

In four cases, the car hire firms charged more than double what was regarded as being the average cost of the repairs by Which? Trusted Trader mechanics.

Three quotes were obtained from garages for each case, and only eight of 36 were in line with, or above, the charge provided by the rental firms.

Which? pointed to one case where a customer was billed £1,154 for a windscreen chip that could be repaired for just £35.

Drivers also questioned if car hire firms were charging more than one customer for the same minor repairs to hire vehicles.

Several car hire firms also admitted to not carrying out repairs, even when they have been paid for by customers, claiming they would rather delay until they can fix multiple problems at once.

Others simply stated that they did not prioritise repairing the damage and would instead take a financial hit on any potential resale value of a vehicle.

In these instances where repairs are not carried out, any bill would be purely theoretical, an estimate based on a ‘damage matrix’ of charges that is used across the industry.

Which? Travel editor Rory Boland described the inflated charges as “outrageous” and said firms should provide “clear evidence of how costs were calculated”.

“Car hire firms now need to clean up their act and be upfront about the real cost of renting a car instead of offering too-good-to-be true prices, then clawing back profits via ridiculous repair bills” he added.

Which? reports that overcharging for repairs is one of the most common complaints when hiring a vehicle.

If you don’t want to be stung by damage costs should you hire a vehicle, you may wish to consider car hire excess insurance, an additional cover that can provide peace of mind. Get a quote today and see how little it may could cost you.

Understanding the latest car hire trends

Date Created: 28 February 2018 by Questor Insurance

VW1Throw technology, growing tourism markets and more exploratory customers into the mix, and it makes for an exciting time in the car hire sector.

Moves towards more hybrid vehicles, greater choice and increased regulation all have a part to play too, especially after some of the negative headlines that plagued the sector in 2017.

Customer transparency is at the forefront of the agenda for this year, supported by new regulations from the Competition and Market Authority.

This means customers are more aware of their rights and are in a better position to challenge any practices they are not happy with.

More options

Camper van hire has increased among younger people according to Affordable, while larger vehicles are also proving more popular.

Flexible Autos and Hertz also report rising demand for convertibles, with customers keen to explore America’s iconic Route 66 in a Ford Mustang for example.

Bike hire is also popular, with demand for Harley Davidsons taking off in both Europe and the Middle East.

Electric vehicles have been in development for many years, but a growing number are now on the road and more charging points are being installed. Demand for hybrid vehicles is also rising.

Greater connectivity

Connected vehicles could soon be the go-to for car hire firms, as many look to develop apps that can deal with the vast majority of business issues.

From booking and managing car hire services to potentially unlocking vehicles, customers may soon find that the whole process is easier.

Avis Budget Group is already working on developing technology that allows it to measure a car’s performance and keep track of it in real time.

Thousands of vehicles should become connected this year, while other hire firms are exploring the possibilities of connecting their services with those of other transportation firms, such as airlines, buses and railways.

A global business

Car hire remains a popular option in many parts of the world for holidaymakers thanks to the flexibility it provides.

The USA and Europe have thriving rental markets, while growth in Australia and the Far East continues at pace.

If you plan to hire a vehicle for your next trip, the key is to book early as this should mean a greater choice of car, and potentially lower fees.

It may also be worth investing in a car hire excess policy to provide peace of mind should your hire vehicle be damaged or stolen. Get a quote today to see how much a policy could cost.

Hiring a car for a late season ski holiday? Here’s what you need to know

Date Created: 21 February 2018 by Questor Insurance

Ski1If you’re planning to enjoy a late season ski holiday in 2018 and intend to hire a car, you may want to brush up on the various laws that exist.

Not only might a hire be a cost effective means of getting to the slopes in the first place, but it also provides flexibility when you arrive, especially if you want to check out other resorts too.

Driving in the snow is no easy task though, and to make the process more complicated, you’ll find that many countries have differing laws relating to winter tyres, snow chains and the like.

But first you’ll need to plan ahead to ensure you get a vehicle that is adequate for your needs – especially when you have lots of ski equipment on top of your regular holiday cases.

The key point to remember is that the driver takes responsibility to ensure that a car is legal to be used on the roads in any given country, even if that vehicle is a hire car.

In some European countries, winter tyres are compulsory, while in others they are recommended to reduce risk.

From a car hire perspective, a compulsory winterisation fee is usually included in the quote and this will cover extras such as snow chains and winter tyres.

If you’re planning to head to Austria before April 15 or to certain Italian regions by the same date, you’ll find that winter tyres are compulsory by law.

The same situation applies in Norway until March 15, although these dates can be extended if weather conditions are poor – you’ll therefore need to check to ensure your car hire vehicle is road legal.

Meanwhile in France and Switzerland it is not compulsory to have winter tyres, but it is highly recommended.

It is not a legal requirement to have snow chains fitted in most countries, but you will need to have them in your vehicle.

Austria, France, Switzerland, Andorra, Italy and Norway legally require drives to snow chains during winter periods, as well as suitable warning equipment such as an orange triangle.

When renting a car, you should check to see if the chains are included in the winterisation fee, as they may not be and that could see your costs increase as a result.

One final thing to consider relates to where you are hiring your car from.

Since May 2016, you cannot take a Swiss-registered hire car into EU countries, so if you plan to fly to Switzerland and then cross into France, check with your hire firm to make sure you have a vehicle with the right registration plates.

You may also wish to cover the excess on your insurance policy with car hire excess insurance – this can provide peace of mind as you’ll be covered from major pay-outs, even if you need to claim.

Could you enhance your Car Club insurance cover?

Date Created: 20 February 2018 by Questor Insurance

BMW1If you’re a member of a car club – and let’s face it, there’s quite a few – then you could get additional insurance cover on top of what you already have.

While most memberships will include fully comprehensive cover, you’ll likely still need to pay the excess, which depending on the policy could add up to hundreds of pounds.

It’s therefore a good idea to consider Car Club excess insurance, as the optional extra can cover the cost should you need to claim if the car is stolen or damaged.

It means you could get annual cover to provide peace of mind all year round whenever you’re using a Car Club vehicle, or opt for a shorter policy.

What do you need to know?

You could attempt your vehicle as well as possible but accidents can still happen. Worse still, if the car was to be stolen you may have to pay out hundreds, or even thousands, of pounds to cover the excess on the Car Club insurance policy.

Of course, Car Club excess insurance cover is by no means a necessity, but it would cover the costs if you needed to claim through the Car Club policy.

Without it, in the event of a claim you would need to pay the excess on the policy while the Car Club would cover the rest.

It’s also possible to find cover that includes other benefits, such as protection in the event of you losing the keys or using the wrong fuel.

You should shop around too to find the best option for you, as various car hire firms may offer different cover or include different perks and add-ons.

If you’re thinking of getting Car Club excess insurance cover, get a quote today and find out how much annual cover could cost you.

Bold plans to transform car hire in Balearics

Date Created: 16 February 2018 by Questor Insurance

BalearicsInnovative environmental plans could soon transform the Balearic Islands, with care hire fleets set to be entirely electrified by 2035.

The proposals to phase out greenhouse gas emissions on the islands by 2050 will see new diesel vehicles removed from the car markets in Majorca, Menorca, Formentera and Ibiza in 2025.

All street and road lighting will be switched to LEDs in the same year, while solar panels will be installed on major buildings such as supermarkets, sports stadia, hospitals and car parks.

Launched by the Balearic Islands’ government, the plans promote electromobility and intend for all energy to eventually come from renewable sources.

However, according to the island’s director-general for climate change Joan Groizard, there are a number of legal hurdles to overcome, especially relating to what the regions of Spain can and cannot do.

“Climate change is already having a big impact on our islands and hopefully out actions can have a knock-on effect elsewhere,” he added.

A national climate plan is due to be unveiled in Spain in 2018, and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has promised to bring the plans forward.

A separate set of plans could also see the Balearic Government move to limit the number of cars available for tourist hire on some of the islands.

Amid concerns that the islands become saturated with tourists during peak season, a limit could be placed on the number of cars and motorcycles that are available for hire.

Formentera favours the move – which is likely to come into force in 2019 – and it could eventually be rolled out across the other islands if it proves successful.

Tourism authorities on Majorca say they are not ready for such a move just yet, although they recognise that tourist numbers are continuing to grow year on year.

In Formentera, the number of road vehicles can rise by 145% during the summer months, with around 1,300 vehicles arriving daily on average from Ibiza and Denia during peak season.

Plans could limit arrival numbers and limit the maximum number if rentals, meaning holidaymakers will potentially need to act quickly in the summer to secure hire vehicles.

The rising number of vehicles on the road also increases the risk of having an accident, so if you are planning to rent a vehicle you may wish to consider car hire excess insurance to ensure you are covered should something go wrong.

How to avoid ski holiday car rental extras

Date Created: 12 February 2018 by Questor Insurance

TurnIf you’re heading off on a winter ski holiday in the coming weeks and plan to hire a car, you may want avoid a number of added extras.

A failure to plan in advance could see you hit by an avalanche of costs, including everything from insurance waivers to child seats and fees to name additional drivers.

This can more than double the costs of car hire and will eat up a considerable portion of your holiday budget if you’re not careful.

Fortunately, if you plan in advance and know what to look out for, you should be able to keep costs down.

What to look out for

Items such as ski racks and sat navs will often be ad added extra, while if you opt for a form of damage insurance you may be stung again at the booking desk.

Figures from iCarhireinsurance reveal that costs nearly trebled for car hire in numerous locations across Europe, including at Inverness, Geneva, Innsbruck, Turin, Barcelona, Sofia and Grenoble.

Of those locations, Sofia is the most reasonably priced, while fees in Geneva tend to skyrocket on a regular basis.

Added costs to consider, although they are not essential, include tyre and windscreen damage waivers, winter packs, child car seats and sat navs.

Fees for additional drivers also need to be given plenty of thought, especially if you plan to name someone under the age of 25 on the car hire plan as this can cause costs to double.

How can you save?

Taking your own items can significantly bring costs down, so you may want to take things like car seats and sat navs if you’re able to.

Even the cost of putting the latter in the hold of an aeroplane could be cheaper than paying for it at the car rental desk.

It’s important to remember that winter tyres should be included by law in some countries, while the cost of opting for a larger car without a roof rack might be less than a smaller car with one.

You may also wish to invest in an excess insurance policy before you travel, as that can provide you with cover should you need to claim.

Note that you will need to pay out initially in such instances and that it may take weeks to settle a claim, but it does provide peace of mind should a claim be necessary.

Get a quote for car hire excess insurance today and see if you could save.

Spring in Sorrento

Date Created: 18 December 2017 by Joanna Phillips

With the gloom of January getting closer, planning a weekend break in the Spring is an ideal pick-me-up. The perfect place to try, especially if you have never experienced Italy before, is the beautiful town of Sorrento on the Amalfi Coast.

Only an hour south from the urban intensity of Naples and easy to get to via train or the local scheduled bus, Sorrento is perched on top of cliffs that separate the town from the marina. Here you can enjoy a traditional Italian meal in Piazza Tasso, a lively square full of places to eat, drink, shop and take in the sweeping views of the sea.

You can also walk down to the marina and make your way through the extensive handmade gelato and granita flavours whilst listening to the gentle lap of the water.

Sounds like bliss doesn’t it? Especially with the average temperature being around 18 degrees in April. And it doesn’t have to be expensive either as two of the main budget airlines fly there with prices well under £100 per person for a return flight. And there is a variety of accommodation ranging from boutique B&Bs that can cost as little as £90 for 2 nights based on 2 people sharing a room, to larger Hotels with prices only slightly higher at around £130.

Even if you give yourself a budget of £250, a 2 night trip with flights and accommodation for 2 people can easily be achieved.

Whilst you are there, as previously mentioned, you must try the amazing Italian ice cream known as gelato. There are many shops to choose from but one of the most famous is Gelateria Primavera, located at Corsa Italia 142. This popular shop which opened in 1975 is family run and has around 50 different flavours of gelato including Kinder Bueno, Nutella, Limoncello, Ricotta and Pear to name a few. If you are looking for something a little more savoury, the Napoli residents claim that their city is the original home of authentic pizza. So in Sorrento, you will find it traditionally cooked in wood fired ovens on every street. You just have to try the classic Neopolitan Margherita, made simply with sun kissed tomatoes, creamy buffalo mozzarella and fresh aromatic basil. Representing the official colours of the Italian flag, it is simple but delicious.

However, Sorrento isn’t just known for it’s pizza and gelato, there are a number of excursions available to book from the resort including a day trip to Mt Vesuvius and the historical ruins of Pompeii, a visit to the lemon groves and a Limoncello factory with tasting encouraged, boat trips around the bay and my personal favourite of a high speed boat trip to the Island of Capri followed by a visit to the famous Grotta Azzurra, also known as the Blue Grotto.

So with all that in mind. Go and enjoy your Italian adventure, I may see you there! 

Exploring France’s best Christmas markets from a motor home

Date Created: 06 December 2017 by Questor Insurance

If you are yet to make any festive plans, or just fancy a getaway, hiring a motor home and taking in Europe’s best Christmas markets could be just what you need.

With the delights of France within easy reach, you could combine a European trip with a chance to do plenty of Christmas shopping!

Christmas markets, while once traditionally confined to major German cities, are now found in most European hubs – and France is no exception.

The roads will generally be quieter in the winter than at the height of summer, meaning travel should be easier, while camp grounds are significantly cheaper.

Where to visit

France is home to the second highest number of Christmas markets in Europe, and the L’Arche de Noel a la Defense is the largest in Paris.

With 350 stalls, the Christmas stalls contrast perfectly with the skyscrapers that surround it in the nosiness district and you’ll find delicious food, festive decorations and crafts in abundance.

The illuminated streets of Montbeluard, in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comte region, around eight miles from the Swiss border, are another must-see. The market itself is packed full of local craft products that you’ll struggle to find anywhere else.

In Lille, you’ll find around 100 stalls packed into the Place Rihour while Grand Place features a huge ferris wheel which towers over the market offering views across the city.

For something a little different, discover the dry ski slope and festive market in Reims, another set in the shadow of a magnificent cathedral.

Carollers keep the mood festive as you wander among nearly 150 wooden chalets selling everything from decorations to local delicacies.

And a trip around France wouldn’t be complete without a visit to France’s oldest Christmas market in Strasbourg.

With 300 stalls, many of which are found in front of the city’s gothic cathedral, the market has been hosted in the city dating back to the 16th century.

These are just a handful of the festive markets in France, and all have their own unique charm. If you do want to hire a motor home and explore the best of what Europe has to offer this winter, you may be able to save money with motor home hire excess insurance. Get a quote today and see if you could save.

What do you need to keep in mind when renting a vehicle this winter?

Date Created: 07 November 2017 by Questor Insurance

Winter1No matter how experienced a driver you are, the winter months can often make travelling on the roads a bit trickier – especially if you’re driving an unfamiliar car! 

However, this doesn’t mean you should avoid it, as a road trip during the winter months can be a great adventure and provide fantastic scenery and memories.

But there are things that you should keep in mind when hiring a vehicle, so read on to make sure you have a safe road trip.

Picking the car

The temptation when picking a rental car during winter can be to go for one with four-wheel drive or heated seats; while these a nice thing to have, they are not essential and can end up costing you a lot more.

Your main priority should be to make sure the car has an anti-lock braking system, as these will help stop you from sliding when you break. The important thing to keep in mind is that the car doesn’t really matter – as long as it safe and working – the best accident prevention is to be prepared and patient when you drive.

Checks before leaving

Although you may be eager to get in the car and get going, carrying out a few checks before leaving can save you a great deal of time and money. Double check the tyres to make sure they are in good condition and fit for the road, and don’t forget to give the spare one a once over as well.

Make sure you’re aware of how much fuel you have too, as you don’t want to be running out halfway to your destination or be hit with added charges when you return it.

Take out the right cover

One of the most significant things to remember, is to make sure you have the right insurance in place in the case of any accident.

It goes without saying that driving in icy or snowy conditions makes the chance of a bump or scratch on your rental vehicle much higher, so if you don’t want to be lumped with a huge excess charge make sure you get yourself the right cover.

If you’re planning on hiring a vehicle this winter, find out if you could save yourself some money by getting a quote for car hire excess insurance today.

Paris, the city of Love? Amsterdam, the city of Red Lights?

Date Created: 06 November 2017 by Joanna Phillips

Open any guidebook or travel blog and you will often find Paris mentioned as the city of love, the most romantic city in the world and the place to go if you want to impress that special person in your life. Whilst I don’t deny that, I ask that rather than going straight for that little break to Paris to climb the Eiffel Tower and eat your weight in baguettes et fromage, you give Amsterdam a try. I believe that you will be pleasantly surprised.

Amsterdam has always had a bit of a bad reputation, especially when compared to romantic heavyweights such as Paris, Rome and Venice. However, in recent years, the city has been cleaned up and revamped in to a place that everyone should visit with their loved one.

When someone says Amsterdam, you automatically think of the famous Red Light District, or RLD as it's also known. You may also think of Tulips and Anne Frank but that’s not likely to make you question whether you should go.

In my opinion, the RLD is a vibrant, fun and cultured area. It's also, surprisingly romantic. There is nothing better than walking hand in hand along the cobbled paths and across the famous bridges with the moon lighting up the river and the red glow lighting up the streets. It is like your own personal moulin rouge, which funnily enough, Paris is famous for, but has tried to step away from in a bid to become more romantic than red light.

My top 5 most romantic things to try in Amsterdam are:

  1. Get the most amazing views at The SkyLounge. A super chic cocktail bar resident in the Doubletree Hilton. If you can, get there just before sunset.
  2. Dine in ‘Heaven’ in Amsterdam. Ciel Bleu Restaurant on the 23rd floor of the Okura Hotel offers a world class dining experience. It is the only Restaurant in Amsterdam to have two Michelin stars.
  3. Take a private canal cruise. Whilst it is not cheap, you can avoid the crowds and enjoy a private dinner or just sip champagne as you float along Amsterdam’s waters.
  4. On a sunny day, take a picnic down to Vondelpark and relax for the afternoon. Eating the best that Amsterdam bakeries can offer and enjoying the 19th century park which even features an open air theatre with a full programme offered throughout May – September.
  5. Leave a token of your trip on a love lock bridge. Amsterdam now has 2 bridges where you can leave a padlock locked on to symbolise your love and devotion to your other half. Many people personalise their padlocks by getting them engraved before they travel, or by simply writing their initials joined by a heart.

Five of the best Christmas markets to visit this winter

Date Created: 25 October 2017 by Questor Insurance

Christmas1It’s never too early to start thinking about Christmas, especially if you’re planning to get away from it all and enjoy the festive season in a different location.

Christmas markets are a huge tourist attraction and some of the best are sprinkled across Europe, featuring beautifully decorated cabins, beer halls full of festive cheer and stalls boasting handmade gifts.

But which should you visit? Read on to discover five of the best markets in Europe and to find out why you should visit this winter.

Germany

Munich, Cologne and Berlin are some of the continent’s most renowned Christmas markets, making a visit to Germany during the festive season a must. Featuring beer and delicious bratwurst, as well as snow topped cabins, these three markets are among the most popular in Europe.

Booking during the school winter break may see prices increase, but if you’re going with some friends or a loved one, you should be able to bag a bargain if you book in term time.

Madrid, Spain

The Spanish Christmas market offers visitors something a little different but it is still a great choice for a winter break.

During the festive season the city is transformed with eye-catching displays and lights, whilst the market is ideal for foodies, thanks to Spanish lagers and delicious Chorizo.

Stockholm, Sweden

With a guarantee of snow and plenty of local food, Stockholm’s Christmas markets are a great choice if you’re looking to add some festivity to your winter break.

Due to its location, you can easily combine a visit to the market with tours around the famous Nobel Museum and some of the city’s best sights, including the Royal Palace, Stockholm Cathedral and historic Old Town.

Lille, France

You will be hard pushed to find a more picturesque setting than Place Rhiour town square in the middle of the festive season.

Featuring a giant Ferris wheel and hundreds of stalls, this market is full of eye-catching features as well as brilliant local French cuisine.

Just an hour’s drive from Calais, or accessible via Eurostar, a visit to the market in Lille can easily be made into an exciting road trip with a few friends or your loved ones.

If you do decide to drive, find out if you could save yourself some money by getting a quote for car hire excess insurance today.

How can you protect your winter holiday?

Date Created: 12 October 2017 by Questor Insurance

Sleet1Hundreds of holidaymaker’s travel plans have been left up in the air following Monarch’s collapse and Ryanair’s subsequent cancellations.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has since stepped in to offer all of those stranded a flight home, but many travellers will now have to make alternate plans and rearrange their trips.

As a result, it makes sense to protect yourself should any issues happen that get in the way of you going on your planned holiday.

Keep tabs on your flight

Depending on how early you book your flight, it can be quite easy to forget all about it until just a couple of days before travelling. This only gives you a small window to try and find a solution should something happen, which drastically reduces your chance of finding an alternative.

A lot of airlines now have apps that you can use to keep track of your flight, and you will even be notified if there are any issues.

Use a travel agent

Although this option may see you pay a little extra, travel agents will be a lot more informed about any potential issues when you are booking.

Travel agents usually have the same information as someone would at an airline desk, so should there be any sudden bad weather, they will be able to find you an alternative flight a lot quicker than you could.

Get yourself covered

Travel insurance is essential if you want to avoid any additional costs that come with a cancelled flight, especially if you selected a non-refundable seat.

The majority of airlines will offer a refund if a flight is cancelled, however very few will cover the cost of a hotel if you get stuck somewhere because of bad weather.

If you’re thinking of travelling abroad this winter, make sure you organise your travel insurance in advance to cover for any eventuality.

The importance of the small print in car hire contracts

Date Created: 04 October 2017 by Questor Insurance

Signature1Consumer group Which? Recently revealed that travellers are being stung by fees hidden away within the small print of their car hire contracts. So why is it important to read the small stuff and what should you look out for?

After looking at more than 40 car hire contracts from 18 different providers – both from abroad and in the UK – Which? concluded that unnecessarily complicated documentation was common practice across the industry.

Some car hire contracts were found to be up to 31,000 words long, containing additional fees like late vehicle returns or refuelling, making it easy for travellers to miss things or not bother reading it all together.

In order to avoid any issues, it pays to be precise and read through any paperwork thoroughly before signing or setting off, but what else can you do?

Do your own car checks

The first thing you should do when you’re handed the keys to your rental car is to give it a once over, and take pictures if necessary.

Make sure you document any scratches or dents already on the car, and ensure everything is working as it should. Another thing to keep in mind is that some countries require cars to carry traffic cones, replacement bulbs and a high visibility vest – have a look on the AA website if you’re unsure about what you may need.

Check your fuel policy

This can often be an area where travellers find themselves hit with additional charges, so it pays to be on top of your policy. Different car hire companies will adopt a range of rules and requirements, some will give you the car half full, whilst others may require you to pay for a full tank and accept it returned empty.

Sort out your own insurance

Other investigations have found that car hire companies have a habit of charging customers for insurance they did not actually need, so getting your own policy sorted out before travelling might be worthwhile.

Speak to an insurer to get a quote for excess insurance for example and they can help to ensure you are covered for everything you need.

If you’re thinking of hiring a car abroad this year, keep an eye on the small print and be watchful – that way you can enjoy your trip away, even if something does unfortunately go wrong.

How can you get reimbursement from Monarch

Date Created: 03 October 2017 by Questor Insurance

Monarch1News broke at the start of the week that Monarch, Britain’s longest-serving airline brand, has entered into administration, leaving hundreds of travellers stranded with their flights cancelled.

Since then, the Civil Aviation Authority has revealed that they will aim to bring all Monarch customers back into the UK over the next two weeks.

“This is the biggest UK airline ever to cease trading, so the Government has asked the CAA to support Monarch customers currently abroad to get back to the UK at the end of their holiday at no extra cost to them,” said CAA Chief Executive, Andrew Haines.

Despite this, it can be a little unclear as to what exactly you’re covered for, or if you are entitled to more, so read on to find out what you can do to get home safely or reclaim some money.

Covered by ATOL (Air Travel Organiser's Licence)

Every travel company which sells air holidays and flights is required to hold an ATOL, which means you’re probably covered and the CAA will do everything they can to ensure you do not get stranded or lose money.

If you’re unsure about whether or not you are covered, an ATOL certificate would have been issued – either by post or email – as soon as you made a payment for your booking.

Also, if your new arranged flight is set to depart four hours after the original then you will be covered ‘reasonable expenses’ by the CAA for parking, phone charges, food and drink – claims can be made using itemised receipts on your return to the UK.

Without ATOL cover

For those not protected, then you need to seek help from your insurer or card issuer if you plan on seeking repayment. In order for your insurer to pay out, you will need to have ‘travel abandonment’ cover, so, have an extensive look through your cover before making any claim.

Even if you aren’t covered, there are alternative options. You can claim under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1979, which states that if you pay for something, or even a little bit, on a credit card and it costs between £100 and £30,000, then the card company is jointly liable.

If your flight cost came to under £100, then you can try and claim using Chargeback, which is a less well-known part of card protection. Ask your card provider to do it, and they will get in touch with Monarch’s bank for repayment. While it isn’t legal protection, the major card companies – American Express, Mastercard and Visa – all use it, so they may help get your money back.

If you’re considering travelling overseas in the coming months, ensure you have you adequate travel insurance for your trip to cover any eventuality.

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