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The New Travel Protection: AirCare

by Lux Joseph 30. May 2014

A large percentage of the patients that CME transports with a medical escort are travelers that have travel insurance.  Travel insurance can save a traveler several thousand dollars all the way up to hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the type of plan they purchase and what type of assistance they may need. A medical escort ranges in cost depending on the location of the patient, destination, and the type of arrangements, but it definitely saves a family a significant amount of money to have travel insurance. It is important to understand and recognize the different travel insurance and protection products that are available and their scope of coverage. We encourage you to contact your travel agent to discuss the different options available.

In this article, we are sharing with you one of the newest products to the industry provided by AirCare. While Commercial Medical Escorts works with the travel insurance and assistance companies in providing a medical escort for medical claims, many insurance products offer other travel protection services. AirCare is delivering a product to the market that will benefit a traveler somewhere every single day. Delays, missed connections, and canceled flights happen every day somewhere in the world. We all hope that it doesn’t happen to us, but you never know when it may and it is important for you to be covered and protected. That is what this product does. It isn’t insurance, it is protection.

AirCare is a product of Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection. This plan will compensate travelers for many of the travel inconveniences that occur on a daily basis and most of them require no claim forms to be submitted. The focus of the program is not only to provide protection, but to require minimal effort of the individual that is insured. The next time you are experiencing one of the following travel inconveniences see what AirCare is going to cover you for:

·         Lost or Stolen Luggage

·         Flight Delay Causing a Missed Connection

·         Luggage Delayed 12+ hours

·         Flight Delay 2+ hours

·         Tarmac Delay 2+ hours

Each of these unfortunate travel issues are all covered by AirCare. If your luggage is lost or stolen, AirCare will pay you $1000.00. If your flight is delayed so long that you miss a connection, Air Care will pay you $500.00. For those who check baggage to your final destination and your luggage is delayed more than 12 hours; AirCare will pay you $500.00. A flight delay more than two hours will result in a $50.00 payment and a tarmac delay more than two hours will result in $1,000.00. The compensation model that AirCare has developed is beneficial to the travelers especially considering it only costs $25 per trip. Even if travel goes perfect, the small amount the travel pays for the protection seems well worth it.

One of the great features of this protection is that you can purchase the protection up until one hour prior to the original scheduled departure. At the current time this program is only available on domestic travel, but I think we can expect to see the program expanded in the future. The program is designed so that a traveler could get multiple payouts from AirCare. If they have an unlucky travel day that is faced with a fly delay, that then results in a two hours on the tarmac, followed by a missed connection; the traveler would be looking at an automatic payout of $1,550.00. The team at AirCare monitors the flights and tracks each flight. They will know if a connection is missed, or if you are stuck on a plane and before you know it the funds are deposited into your bank account or PayPal.

Choosing the right travel insurance is never easy and that is why Commercial Medical Escorts recommends you speak with a trusted travel agent that is knowledgeable about the different products and what they have to offer. Many travelers are uneasy about travel insurance because of the complexity and AirCare is trying to remove that anxiety by providing a product that is simple to understand and manage. On March 3 Chris Isidore from CNNMoney reported that since December 1, there were over 1 million canceled or delayed flights. Just in January 2014, MasFlight reported 300,000 weather-related delays.

Consider protecting your travel for $25. Keep in mind this is not insurance and will not help you in the event you need a medical escort or air ambulance, but hopefully it will appease travelers who tend to run into travel inconveniences. If you are interested, you can purchase your plan today by visiting: https://www.bhtp.com/travel-protection/aircare.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend: The Importance of Vacation

by Lux Joseph 23. May 2014

AAA is estimating that approximately 36.1 million Americans were travel more than 50 miles this upcoming Memorial Day weekend. According to their reports, this is up approximately 1.5% from last year. It is unique to see that eight in ten travelers will be driving as their preferred method of travel. At CME, we primarily transport patients via commercial airline, but we have also transported patients by rail, car, and boat. This upcoming weekend will also be a busy weekend for Commercial Medical Escorts. Typically there is a trend that follows the medical repatriation industry. As more individuals are traveling, there will be a higher number of potential medical escorts for our team to assist in. If you have the weekend off, it is a perfect opportunity to take a short vacation even if it is what some people describe as a “stay vacation” in which you stay where you are, but do things you normally wouldn’t be able to do.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans put in more working hours during an average year than workers in Britain, France, Sweden, and Germany. As a country, we also have less parental leave and the least number of paid holidays and vacation—in some sectors it's as low as 10 vacation days per year. Meanwhile, the average European enjoys at least four weeks of paid vacation per year.

America lags far behind Europe in time off the job. It’s no secret. Americans, almost as a rule, are overworked and under-vacationed. According to the Census Bureau, we're a nation of workaholics. Statistics show that 28 percent of workers 16 and older work more than 40 hours a week, and 8 percent work 60 or more hours a week. It is reported that Americans receive an average of 14 days off per year. Compare that with standards in these other wealthy industrialized nations, as reported by Expedia.com’s Vacation Deprivation Report.

  • British workers get a minimum of 24 days vacation time.
  • In Germany, the minimum is 27 days.
  • In Canada, the minimum is 19 days.
  • In France, workers get 39 days of vacation time, and the typical workweek is only 35 hours.

So if you do have the free time, take a vacation and enjoy the upcoming holiday weekend. The travel 2014 forecast from AAA is the second highest travel since 2000. People are traveling more and more as the economic factors become more favorable for families. During the economic recession most travel that was being done was by business and corporations like Commercial Medical Escorts, but as things are slowly improving travel is once again becoming a popular choice especially for vacations.

For the six years that the Vacation Deprivation survey has been conducted, the United States stands alone as the country with the worst vacationing habits. In 2006 workers in the United States left an extra day of vacation on the table—4 days in 2006 versus 3 days in 2005—despite an increase in average vacation days received—14 days in 2006 versus 12 days in 2005. (www.vacationdeprivation.com/)

The United States is one of the few wealthy countries in the world that does not have laws governing the minimum amount of time granted to workers each year. Even in Korea and Japan, countries noted for intense work schedules, workers are allowed to take twice as much vacation time as their American counterparts.

In almost all surveys, American workers complain of feeling overworked, stressed and anxious about their lives. Clearly, most Americans have a bad case of vacation deprivation and the problem is getting worse.

There are many historical, cultural, financial and technological reasons for this pattern. We could debate endlessly about how we got to this point and what the long-term implications are for individual workers and for our nation.

Without getting into that much detail, I simply want to point out that too much work without adequate down time causes high levels of stress, which, in turn, negatively impacts our quality of life.

Beyond quality of life issues, there are health implications to being overworked. Numerous medical studies show a disturbing correlation between overwork and stress-related diseases, even early mortality.

So if you have this weekend free, enjoy it. Knowing the importance of time off is the easy part. The hard part is acting on that knowledge. Some tips to maximize that vacation are:

  •  Mini-breaks, mini price. Talk to your travel agent about special 3- and 4-night offers being made by hotels in many major cities. Some tour operators offer airfare, hotel and theater packages for a long weekend in the city. Cruise lines, too, are offering short cruises to meet America’s new interest in short vacations. Your travel counselor can help you find the vacation that’s right for you and your budget.
  • Add-ons. Try adding on a day or two to a business trip to take in the sights. If possible, have your spouse or family join you. Your travel agent can help find you and your family the best deals, map out points of interest and take the hassle out of planning.
  • No phone, no TV. Consider visiting a “wireless” resort that features an electronics-free environment—no in-room phone, no TV, no Internet connection. Your travel agent can help you find the right resort for you, whether you want to leave all electronic gadgets behind or find a resort where you can still check in once a week from the business center.
  • Leave it behind. Leave your laptop, business cell phone and PDA at home. To lessen the temptation of checking in every hour or fretting over how the office is falling apart without you, put a game plan into place before you leave. Decide what tasks take priority in your absence, who will take care of these and other jobs while you’re away, and leave a set of instructions and client contact information.
  • Stick to a work schedule. For some, getting completely away from cell phones and laptops is impossible, or may even cause concerns about what will be waiting for them at the office upon return. For those people, I recommend scheduling a time of not more than an hour every day to check in with the office and take care of work issues. It’s up to you to establish your own boundaries, and taking a real break from work should not be viewed as a crime or paint you as a less-than-productive member of your company. In fact, coming back rested and refreshed can increase your productivity at the office and make you more receptive to new ideas and approaches to problem-solving.
  • Pay attention to your stress level. If you are feeling unusually fatigued, tense, or irritable or experiencing neck or lower back pain, it might be time to use a few of those vacation days to re-charge your battery. Listen to your body; it could be the best signal that you need a break.

From the entire team at Commercial Medical Escorts we wish you a safe and happy holiday. Enjoy the Memorial Day Weekend. If you are traveling remember to be safe! 

Family Travel Tips

by Lux Joseph 16. May 2014

CME makes travel arrangements each and every day to bring loved one’s back home. At the same time, you may be arranging travel for an upcoming family trip. Anyone who's ever taken a family trip knows they have the potential to be both stressful and rewarding at the same time. We all have fond memories of embarrassing family photo opportunities and harmonizing in the backseat to pass the time, along with not-so-fond memories of airport hassles and bungled arrangements.

The secret to a successful family trip lies not only with extensive preparation but smart planning. This is the same approach we take when planning a medical escort repatriation and we have some tips that will help you plan a smooth vacation. Designing a vacation that appeals to a range of age groups can be quite challenging. How can you find family-friendly accommodations? How do you determine which destinations will appeal to both adults and children? How do you make it through the airport without pulling your hair out?

Rest assured, it is possible for families to have their "dream vacation," and more and more families are asking their travel agents for help. Approximately 77 percent of ASTA agents surveyed recently said they were currently booking more family vacation travel as compared to the previous year. In response to this increasing demand, an influx of new and varied intergenerational travel products have been introduced. And from theme parks to cruises to European vacations, there's something for every family.

At CME, we use our in-house travel department to make all the arrangements for our medical escort repatriations. We encourage you to contact your travel agent as they can help you explore your options and choose the vacation that's ideal for all your loved ones. Agents are one-stop-shopping - they offer planning services that include air, hotel, sightseeing, cruises and more. They also have a wealth of travel information and advice such as visa requirements, packing tips, travel insurance and international permit requirements for drivers. And agents are there to offer follow-up help if something should go wrong and can alert vacationers to scams. Plus, your travel agent can help you land the best group rates available on the vacation that's right for you.

The first step in planning your family vacation is to designate a group leader. As the saying goes, "Too many cooks spoil the broth," so appointing one person to be in charge is the best way to prevent possible spats. At CME, each individual in our office has a special role in putting together the repatriation for our clients. By selecting a key individual for your family vacation this individual will have responsibilities ranging from shopping around for the best group deals to holding on to everyone's tickets and coupons. Even if you decide not to appoint a leader, keep in mind that it's best to deal with one travel agent - you'll avoid potential confusion and get the best rates.

Families should book their flights well in advance so that they can get the best price and the most hassle-free arrangements. Whenever possible, groups should opt for non-stop flights even if it costs more. The stress of regrouping after members run to the bathroom, gift shops and food stands isn't worth the few dollars you'll save. It's always a good idea to invest in trip cancellation insurance, particularly when traveling with a group. CME always looks for the most direct routing to move our patients. This eliminates the hassle of potentially missing connections and ensures the most safe and secure transport flight.

Allow plenty of time for check-in and also between connecting flights. Arriving early to board together prevents last minute delays and confusion. We strongly suggest our medical escorts arrive three hours prior to an international departure and two hours prior to a domestic departure.  It would be great to consider establishing a buddy system to ensure that no one gets left behind.

When it comes to choosing accommodations, consider all-inclusive cruises or resorts - they're the ideal way to organize the big trip. All-inclusive venues usually have a variety of activities and foods that appeal to every age. Cruises have become instant family favorites because all activities are preplanned so you'll spend more quality time together. Condominiums can simplify group planning and typically provide accommodations like multiple bedrooms and full-kitchens that are ideal for value and convenience. Also look for resorts that advertise children's programs, not just children's facilities. Children's programs include planned activities in addition to such amenities as a gameroom or playground. A travel agent can recommend family-friendly accommodations to meet your family's needs.

When booking a room, be sure to ask for connecting rather than adjoining rooms. Connecting rooms have a door between them whereas adjoining rooms are side-by-side with no connecting door. Also ask for a room with a refrigerator - this is especially important for families traveling with infants who will need formula and juice. Since we all know how expensive food can be at resorts, you'll also save money by keeping snacks around for hungry teenagers.

When planning activities, families are encouraged to be open to new ideas or as one agent recommended, "Have a good sense of humor and keep it!" Family members should take turns choosing the group's activities - they might even discover an interest they never knew they had. And don't forget to include children in the decision-making process. This will make them feel that this is their vacation, too, and they're not just stuck tagging along on the adults' trip. Plan back-up and optional activities for those times when everyone begins to moan and the kids start teasing each other.

Also be sure to factor in down-time so that individuals have the opportunity to pursue their own interests. Don't attempt to do everything together. Giving people their space can go a long way toward promoting group harmony.

Families traveling with infants and small children require significantly more planning, not to mention packing, but the reward of spending undivided time together is well worth it. Reserve a crib in advance and make sure there's a laundry room on the premises where you'll be staying. This will allow you to pack fewer baby clothes. Packing a light umbrella stroller and a child-carrying backpack are among the easiest ways to get around. Car seats are also recommended since they help settle little ones during feedings and quiet time. If you think you might need extra help on the plane, ask for a seat in the back. Flight attendants tend to sit there when not serving passengers.

Don't go overboard packing toys. Children tend to lose interest in them quickly, and they take up a lot of room. Pack a few small favorites and don't forget a cherished book and blanket. Always keep snacks easily accessible in a purse or fanny pack. Children might not like the food offered in foreign restaurants, hotels or on planes. A great tip for parents is to freeze juice boxes if they will be taking a long flight or walking around all day. Pack a goodie bag with surprises to distract little ones who get fussy on the plane.

Traveling with teens also requires planning. Encourage them to pack snacks, books and a CD or cassette headset in their carry-on luggage. Consider allowing older children to bring along a friend - that may help build their enthusiasm for the trip.

Whether traveling with teens or tots, parents should chronicle all vital medical information and make copies of important prescriptions. Have pagers or cellular phones available in case someone gets lost or left behind. If you don't own either, check with your travel agent about renting them. Never allow members to go anywhere alone. Remember the old camp adage: "There's safety in numbers."

Although there are many factors to consider when booking travel for the entire family, a travel agent can help make the planning stages as pleasant and exciting as your actual trip. From locating kid-friendly hotels to booking a room with a refrigerator, your experienced travel agent can take care of all the details and arrangements - even the ones you hadn't thought of. So, all you have to do is relax and enjoy your trip.


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