In March 2018, Travel Aware, the Foreign Office’s advice campaign for UK travellers, launched its “Local Laws and Customs” initiative, to remind UK residents travelling abroad of the need to be aware of local, regional and national differences that may affect what you take to a country, or how you behave while there.
To support this campaign, Emerald Life, the award-winning insurance provider, plans to roll out specific advice for LGBT and women travellers. There were nearly 71 million visits overseas by UK residents in 2016 (up 8% from 2015) and many of those travellers are women and/or LGBT. Over the course of 2018, Emerald Life will work with the Travel Aware campaign to collaborate on content specifically for those travellers who do not fit the mainstream, and who might have additional needs or concerns.
This partnership will be ongoing – laws and customs change all the time, particularly in relation to LGBT issues, women’s safety, trans issues and marriage equality. For example, Bermuda has just revoked its marriage equality legislation. What does that mean for same-sex couples who had planned a wedding on a Bermuda-registered cruise ship? Currently a UK resident gay couple is trying to get back their deposit from a cruise company, so far without success. And sentiment on transgender recognition is moving all the time, both forwards and backwards. Many transgender travellers are unsure about what they need to declare when taking out travel insurance, or presenting a passport, and often insurers themselves are unclear.
As for women travellers, there is extra concern around harassment and assault in certain regions. In some countries, single women travellers are not welcomed in certain restaurants, for example, in Azerbaijan, where one of our customers reported that many restaurants are unofficially male only.
Heidi McCormack, Emerald Life CEO said, “We welcome Travel Aware’s new Local Laws & Customs campaign and Emerald’s part in it. With almost 71 million trips abroad by UK residents, many of those travellers will be women or LGBT. The campaign will evolve to look at issues faced by certain specific groups of travellers and we are very pleased to be able to provide input to Travel Aware as part of their drive to ensure that diversity is recognised.”
Steve Wardlaw, Emerald Life Chairman, said “Emerald Life was established to provide insurance which embraces diversity and inclusion and to be aware of additional issues that certain customers may face, particularly our women and LGBT customers. Our travel policy includes extra protection while abroad and recognises that many customers have different needs from the mainstream, for example including surrogate children as standard, and extra clarifications for our transgender customers when applying for insurance. It is great that we are working with the FCO’s Travel Aware campaign on local laws and customs so that we can add in the benefit of what we have learnt from our customers when they travel.”
Susan Crown, Head of the Travel Aware campaign, said:
“Our Travel Aware campaign is about preparing British travellers with the right information before they leave on their holidays. This covers everything from insurance, health advice, entry requirements and documentation, as well as understanding the local laws and customs of the country they are visiting. There are specific countries and audiences where knowing this advice is even more important, which is why it is vital we work with partners such as Emerald Life, who are already speaking to these particular travellers.”