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‘Stay sane’ tips as insurer reports spike in calls about UK

January 8, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

A leading Australian travel insurer reports a dramatic spike in calls about holiday travel to Britain, from worried customers spooked by recent events such as drones at Gatwick Airport, increasing knife crime, scooter bag snatchers and, of course, the great unknown – Brexit.

Every year over 203,000 Aussies and 33,000 Kiwis make the trip to the UK over the Christmas-New Year holiday period. They stay several weeks, on average. They might travel to see friends, see family, or just enjoy the culture and history.

This holiday season, however, anxiety about Britain – generally considered one of the safest of destinations – has risen.

Major Australian and New Zealand travel Insurer, 1Cover, reported a 32% increase in calls in a single week just before Christmas. Drones were often mentioned. Brexit is also on people’s minds, with the big Parliamentary vote on the issue scheduled for next week.

Other key concerns among 1Cover customers include the sudden rise in London knife crime, as well as the alarming rise of “moped mugging” thefts by robbers operating from scooters. That particular crime has become so prevalent, London’s Metropolitan Police has authorised a specially trained squad of officers to drive into moped muggers and knock them off their scooters, even in high-speed pursuits. There’s footage of them doing just that:

“The UK is one of the top five destinations during our summer months, and it’s a safe destination to visit in terms of claims incidents,” Richard Warburton, 1Cover’s travel safety expert, comments.

“However, this year it’s a different story. We’ve seen a big increase in calls from customers who are concerned about what might happen to them in Britain. This comes after a year of unsavoury press about Britain.

“Knife crime has exploded, scooter bag snatchers are prevalent, and news about Brexit is causing confusion for customers about their visas and access to Europe.”

Insignia of London’s Metropolitan Police

Last year, a real-life video, shot in broad daylight in south London, seemingly from a dash-cam, alarmed quite a few viewers. It shows a driver pulling out carelessly into the traffic, almost knocking a man off his bicycle.

The scary part comes next – a chilling piece of road-rage as the cyclist produces a fearsome “zombie knife” – a colossal serrated weapon resembling a cross between a Bowie knife and a machete – and attempts to smash his way into the car, forcing the terrified driver to leap from his vehicle and flee for his life.

After all that, here’s 1Cover’s Top 5 tips for staying sane in Britain this northern winter, aimed at travellers:

  • Check your flight details about drones – check your flight details with your airline for potential delays, prepare accordingly for delays that could be hours by ensuring your pack comfortable change of clothing in your hand luggage, stock up on the Netflix. Who knows when the drones will get shot down and flights restored to normal?
  • Knife crime has been a massive problem in the UK, and London in particular. Knife crime tends to be more focused in certain suburban areas of London where gangs are prevalent. We advise customers to be very careful about wondering alone in off the beaten track suburbs with high crime. Tourist areas are generally safer.

Knives collected by London’s Metropolitan Police in the first half of last year. Photo: London Metropolitan Police

  • Watch out for scooter bag snatchers  – The Metropolitan Police have been cracking down on gangs riding around on scooters snatching and grabbing bags, phones or other valuables in broad daylight. Increasingly, they are moving away from high traffic areas like Oxford Street and tourist areas, and instead focusing on quieter, less well-policed suburbs. We recommend that valuables be not on display. And if you have a bag on your shoulder, have it face the building side of the street, and not the traffic side of the street.
  • Drown out the Brexit noise – Unfortunately the Brits are in a state of Brexit overdose. It’s all you’ll hear on the radio, TV and in the papers. Many of the Brits are fed up with it. Our only recommendation is to take your headphones and drown out the Brexit noise.
  • Pack Your Sense of Humour – Finally, take your sense of humour. The UK is a fantastic place to visit. Embrace it and enjoy it…but pack your sense of humour. Travel’s all about the unexpected, after all!

Edited by Peter Needham

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