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A Guide to Buying and Using Travel Insurance

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Is Travel Insurance Really Necessary?

Travel is already expensive enough, isn’t it? The cost of air fare, cruises, hotels, ground transportation, food and activities and entertainment are already high enough. I don’t know about you, but I work hard for my money, and when I travel, I want to keep as much of my money in MY pocket as possible. Is travel insurance a necessity or a luxury? Why not cut a few corners here and there. Why buy something if it’s not really needed?

My personal answer is, of course, that I am not independently wealthy and can’t withstand the potential financial losses if I require medical care while I’m traveling. Not being independently wealthy also means that I’m in the market for adequate but cheap travel insurance. I suspect that you are in the same position, so you, too need cheap travel insurance. If you’re still not sure about that, consider the following.

Did you know that if you get sick or are injured while traveling abroad, your medical plan may not cover all the expenses you will incur? If the costs of treatment are higher than the maximums of your medical plan, you will be responsible for the difference, unless you have already purchased travel insurance. In fact, you may not even be admitted into hospitals in some countries without proof that you have health or medical insurance.

This is true for everyone, regardless of age or length of time abroad. Suppose you fall ill just a few hours after arriving at your destination. Or suppose you make a day-trip to another country, and you are injured in a traffic accident. Or suppose one of your children is part of a group making a class visit abroad, gets food poisoning and requires hospitalization. In all cases, without adequate travel health insurance, you will be responsible for the costs above and beyond the limitations of your existing medical plan.

Therefore, before going abroad, you need to make sure that you are adequately covered by travel medical insurance that won’t break your budget. You should check to see if appropriate coverage is already available to you through your medical plan, employee benefits, or even through a credit card. If the coverage is sufficient for your needs, then you can enjoy your trip without incurring the extra expense of travel insurance. However, if you are not sure of your coverage, or if your coverage is inadequate or non-existent, then your next step should be to research and purchase the travel insurance coverage you need.

How Much Can You Expect To Pay?

When I bought my first plane ticket to China a few years ago it cost around $2000 round-trip, and my travel insurance cost me over $500 because I didn’t shop around for cheap travel insurance online.

A few years later, a little bit older and wiser, and my travel insurance for another trip to China cost me much less–about $300 for roughly the same coverage. The difference? Before buying my travel insurance for the second trip, I shopped around online and got the coverage I needed, at the right price. If I’d have purchased my travel insurance for this latest trip from my travel agent, it would’ve cost me about $600 for the trip, and my plane tickets only cost $1,500! Not exactly the smart way to go.

So how much will it cost you? Not as much money as it will cost you if you get sick or injured abroad and you don’t have any travel insurance coverage! That’s the obvious answer to the question.

In fact, how much travel insurance costs will depend on your age and the type of coverage you choose. Basic policies cost as little as $5.50 USD per $1000 of coverage. On the other hand, you can expect a full coverage policy to cost you from 7 to 10% of the cost of your trip, depending on your age. The older you are, the more you will pay. No matter what the cost of the policy, however, it’s sure to be much less than the cost of medical evacuation!

The good news is that you can easily, conveniently and quickly research and locate excellent but cheap online travel insurance and reduce the costs while making an informed purchase. This is much better than taking what you are offered at the travel agency because you can choose from hundreds of travel insurance companies and polices and save yourself a lot of money in the process. One place you can start your search is at Travel Insurance Central, http://www.travel-insurance-central.com

What You Should Consider When Buying Travel Insurance

To assist you in your research, here are some suggestions to help you make an informed purchase.

1. Consider the worst-case scenario. If you can financially withstand the worst-case scenario then maybe you don’t need travel insurance or maybe you don’t need a comprehensive policy.

2. Make sure the policy you are considering provides adequate medical/dental coverage, including medical evacuation coverage just in case you need medical care in a place where the best treatment available is below the standards you are accustomed to in your country. This can happen if you fall ill in a developing country or even on a cruise ship.

3. Check your existing insurance policies for possible coverage. There is no sense in paying more for what you already have in your homeowner or tenant policy, such as theft and loss coverage.

4. If you are a frequent traveler, you should consider annual or year-round travel insurance policies. Sometimes they are called multi-trip travel insurance policies. Whatever the name, these policies can be relatively cheap when compared to single-trip travel insurance policies.

5. Know what you are buying, so read the fine print. Make sure that you understand what the company considers to be a legitimate reason for cancellation or interruption. If the list is too restrictive, maybe you should consider another policy.

6. Don’t restrict yourself to buying only from your travel agent. He/She will probably only have one company’s product(s) available, and it’s there for your convenience, but that convenience can be quite costly!

7. Ask lots of questions about the coverage. Play the `what if` game. Ask for clear explanations of terminology. Make sure that you and the travel insurance company are speaking the same language.

8. Don’t buy the insurance through your transportation provider. If the airline goes bankrupt, how adequate will your insurance coverage be?

Once You’ve Bought Your Travel Insurance

Remember that your travel insurance policy covers you between certain specific dates, so don’t start your trip early or extend your trip without first changing the dates of coverage on your travel insurance policy. Of course, this might cost you extra, but that’s cheaper than finding yourself without coverage when you need it the most.

Also, it almost goes without saying that you should bring your travel insurance policy with you when you go abroad. You can’t consult the policy if it’s sitting on your desk at home. You should also carry your travel insurance company’s toll-free assistance phone number and other contact information with you wherever you go. It does you no good if you get ill or hurt and the necessary policy information is sitting in your hotel room. It’s also a good idea to bring your regular medical coverage cards and info with you.

I hope these tips will help you by the best travel insurance for you. Then take your trip with the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you are insured by the right travel insurance policy at the right price. Bon voyage!

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Travel

Beyond the hype, a dirty side of Da Lat

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Most of this is true, but that’s not the only local reality where things get pretty ugly, too. Unless this reality is recognized and seriously addressed, Da Lat will lose its charm and become a shadow of itself.

Here’s an unflattering picture of the other side.

When walking or running on a sidewalk around Xuan Huong Lake in Da Lat in the early morning, at a certain point you can no longer stay on the sidewalk. One is forced to walk or run into the street as there can be up to ten street kitchens completely blocking sidewalk access. Going out on a street at night can be a bit dangerous as there are quite a number of drunk drivers on the road at night, some driving at speeds well in excess of 120km/h.

These street vendors sell food and drink in plastic bowls and cups. Plastic waste is scattered about a hundred meters in front of and behind their stands. Food and drink thrown away or spilled on sidewalks and streets is a common sight.

Because food safety isn’t monitored regularly, or because people might be very drunk, it’s also not uncommon to see vomit on sidewalks. Open stool and urination is a regular occurrence in the early hours of the morning.

There are many signs along the lake advising that making fires is forbidden, but the street vendors completely ignore them. Many tourists from warmer parts of Vietnam easily come to Da Lat in shorts and T-shirts, despite the colder weather. Street vendors want these visitors to stay warm so they stay longer and buy more food and drink. Sidewalks are often blackened with ash from these staying-warm fires.

When I was photographing these fires, a street vendor threatened to stab me with scissors several times. Some vendors started throwing rocks. A man tried to grab my walking stick and the cell phone I use to take pictures. I reported these incidents to the police but they took no action.

These charcoal fires release many deadly toxins such as PM2.5, carbon monoxide and benzene. When street vendors run out of charcoal, some start burning plastic waste. Burning plastic waste releases dioxins and other highly toxic substances. A piece of dioxin the size of a grain of rice is enough to poison a million people.

To keep their customers happy, some street vendors sell beer and other alcoholic beverages. Some install large speakers so their customers can sing and make lots of noise when they get totally drunk. Not infrequently, the karaoke singing continues until 4 a.m. and can be heard up to two miles away. Although the law prohibits singing karaoke after 10:30 p.m., this law is not enforced around Xuan Huong Lake. Once I heard karaoke singing in three different places around the lake, all blaring at the same time.

Almost everything I have described so far represents laws that are constantly being broken. But why don’t street vendors and their customers obey the law when it’s clearly stated on signs in the area?

The answer is simple.

Laws are not enforced. I have more than 12,000 pictures on my files of breaking the law in this city that gets dirty and ugly quite often, but I didn’t see a fine being issued when I called the police to intervene — not once.

A policeman explained it to me in a somewhat pompous way. If the police consistently enforce laws, it would infuriate many people, and with many angry people out and about, the country’s stability would be undermined and civil unrest could ensue.

The same officer went on to explain that if the police strictly enforce the law, things could get out of hand very quickly. People could become violent, and if the police hit back to defend themselves, controversy would ensue.

Police Policing

With a huge police force and militia, Vietnam has everything it needs to counter the violence and maintain political stability. So what’s the problem?

For many years, the police in Division 8 themselves have blatantly flouted the laws about dumping trash, throwing cigarette butts on the ground, and burning garbage. They even ran a fire pit on police property.

How can the police enforce laws when they themselves break them all the time?

On October 31, I informed a senior police officer in Da Lat that I have over 12,000 pictures of people breaking laws – laws related to setting fires on sidewalks, burning trash, dumping trash, dumping of waste and fishing in the filthy waters of Da Lat Xuan Huong Lake and its stinking lagoons, singing karaoke until 4 a.m., binge drinking, drunk driving, high speed motorcycle racing and so on.

I was surprised when he explained that I should not photograph people breaking the law unless their lawlessness directly impacted my safety and well-being.

Surely it is every citizen’s duty to record violations of the law and report them to law enforcement?

Even when someone threatened me with violence, he advised me not to take photos and to report the person to the police unless I had stab wounds or other injuries.

I was stunned.

I think the government needs to be much more serious about enforcing its most basic safety and environmental laws. If it doesn’t, it won’t be able to tackle far bigger things like the impact of global warming, carbon neutrality and sustainable development.

Photos by Paul A. Olivier of public waste in Da Lat:

*Paul A. Olivier is an American expat living and working in Da Lat.



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How two Hyderabadi 3D artists are popularizing city’s flyovers, roads, buildings at global level

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Kodak Moment: How two 3D artists from Hyderabadi are popularizing overpasses, roads and city buildings on a global scale

Hyderabad: For most of us, photography means clicking photos of a beautiful sunset, landscape or people. But Laxman Pithani and Nikhil Chakravarthy from Hyderabad are crazy about new buildings, roads, highways, flyovers and other infrastructure projects in the city.

“When you’re driving on a newly constructed freeway, with not many vehicles and hardly anyone to stop you or ask you anything, you have a kind of absolute freedom. We both enjoy it,” says Nikhil.

Laxman and Nikhil jointly run a Twitter and YouTube page, Traveling with Laxman, where they post videos and photos of newly constructed or inaugurated flyovers, roads and buildings. They have released drone footage of the Uppal SkyWalk project, the renovated Yadagirigutta Temple, Gandipet Park, the Biodiversity Flyover and more.

Laxman (left) and Nikhil (right) at the recently inaugurated Shilpa layout transition

Her most recent work was the transition of the Shilpa layout. When the city witnessed their first Formula E racing event, they were there to capture the track on which the race took place. On their Twitter Page Travel with Laxman, they have around 2,806 followers and on their youtube Page they have around 57,000 subscribers.

Transition of the Shilpa layout

It’s not about the end product. But Laxman and Nikhil began pursuing infrastructure projects in the city from the start. “If there are upcoming projects, we consult the person concerned and get detailed information about it. We shoot it from start to finish,” says Laxman.

In this way, it helps the audience to keep up to date with the progress of these projects.

T hub

When Laxman met Nikhil

Laxman is originally from Hyderabad but Nikhil is from Tenali in Andhra Pradesh. He moved to Hyderabad in 2002. Both met in 2007 in an animation institute `Arena; where they served as 3D training faculty. Here they taught the students how to use animation techniques in films and character forms. They later moved on to teach interior design at the same institute. In 2015 they both joined Custom Furnish, a company specializing in interior design, where they worked as 3D artists. In 2019, Nikhil left and Laxman continued for another year and a half before retiring in 2021.

Durgam Cheruvu Bridge

Ever since they met, they have discovered their shared passion for travel. Your definition of travel sounds very unique and interesting. “We both love to explore unknown roads. I can drive straight for 10 hours without thinking about the destination. We used to always discover new roads, overpasses, buildings, etc. on such trips, which fascinated us a lot. Each specific destination where nobody bothered us gave us a different kind of freedom,” explains Nikhil.

Until December 2021, Laxman and Nikhil were doing this as a part-time job. But in December 2021 both resigned and started doing so full-time.

Her work is now also being recognized by the Telangana government, which is asking for her help in getting photos of some of the infrastructure projects in the city.

Command and Control Center, Banjara Hills

Development in Hyderabad

Both Laxman and Nikhil say the pace of development in Hyderabad has been very fast compared to other cities. “I was born here, so I’m really excited to see the city developing at this pace,” says Laxman. Nikhil adds: “Something happens every week that it just can’t keep up with this speed. For example, the other day when the Shilpa layout flyover was inaugurated, on the same day Skyroot Aerospace’s private rocket was launched from Sriharikota.”

transfer of biodiversity

In addition to updating townspeople on the development, Travel with Laxman now allows many expatriate Hyderabadis to regain their lost connection with the city. “We have people calling from places like the United States and telling us they’re excited about how their city is doing,” says Laxman.

Renovated Yadadrigutta Temple

The duo are happy to be able to fill this gap faced by Hyderabadis living elsewhere.



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Wedding of the week: Lovebirds elope on a Balinese beach following three months of top secret planning

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Jamie Hart, 36, and Daniel Sutton, 44

Western Australian senior graphic designer Jamie and welder Daniel always knew their wedding should be small and intimate, but they also wanted an element of surprise.

The couple, who met online in March 2021, had planned a trip to Indonesia and made the spur of the moment decision to elope because why not? They were too excited to wait a year to tie the knot, so they turned their engagement party into a secret wedding celebration.

After legally signing the papers at The Old Tower House in Perth a week earlier, Jamie and Daniel said ‘yes, I do’ in Bali, with Daniel honorably taking Jamie’s maiden name, Hart.

Jamie Hart and Daniel Sutton get married on the beach in Bali.
camera iconJamie Hart and Daniel Sutton get married on the beach in Bali. Recognition: Srivijaya Stories

When and where

The big day took place on October 22, 2022 on the white sandy beaches of the Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa.

Jamie and Daniel's big day in Nusa Dua, Bali.
camera iconJamie and Daniel’s big day in Nusa Dua, Bali. Recognition: Srivijaya Stories

a dress

Jamie’s dress of choice, Morilee, was by New York bridal designer Madeline Gardner.

Jamie's dress was a stunning Madeline Gardner piece.
camera iconJamie’s dress was a stunning Madeline Gardner piece. Recognition: Srivijaya Stories

honeymoon

There was no need to travel to their honeymoon destination as the newlyweds were already there! They celebrated in Nusa Dua, Ubud, Seminyak and Canggu.

Jamie and Daniel started their honeymoon in Bali.
camera iconJamie and Daniel started their honeymoon in Bali. Recognition: Srivijaya Stories

If you would like to be featured, send your wedding details and high resolution photos to [email protected]

Add details about when, where, dress information, honeymoon and anything that made your big day special!

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