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無論您是在國外工作還是留學,都要在春節期間保持傳統過新年!- Whether You Are Working Or Studying Abroad, Keep The Tradition Alive During Chinese New Year!

新年快樂 – Happy Chinese New Year! Or in Hong Kong and other Cantonese regions, 恭喜發財 – it means congratulations on the fortune. A Little History Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, has taken prominence and is celebrated all over the world. This New Year celebration is actually the longest Chinese holiday of the year (lasting 15-16 days) and is celebrated on a different day every year. Why? Because it follows the lunar calendar – the movement of the moon. This tradition has been around for almost 4000 years since the Han Dynasty in 202 BC-220 AD.  The Emperor commanded the use of the lunar calendar and it has been put into practice ever since. 2019, Year of the Pig Every year is represented by a different Chinese zodiac sign. 2019 is the year of the pig – a year of fortune and luck! A pig represents wealth, honesty,…

SUNx & Ingle International Announce SDG-17 Climate Resilience Partnership

KATOWICE, Poland and TORONTO, Dec. 11, 2018 /CNW/ – A Climate Resilience partnership, focussed on creating 100,000 Strong Climate Champions by 2030 was announced today at COP 24 in Katowice, Poland. The partnership, which was made in the spirit of SDG-17, is between leading Canadian-based global travel risk management and travel insurance provider Ingle International Inc., and SUNx (Strong Universal Network), which focusses on Climate Friendly Travel. The partnership is founded on a shared commitment to develop the Maurice Strong Legacy Scholarship Program, with Ingle International as its first global sponsor. Speaking from COP 24 – the United Nations Climate Change Conference, Professor Geoffrey Lipman, Co-founder of SUNx, said: “We are honoured to announce our partnership with Ingle International to launch the global rollout of the Maurice Strong Legacy Scholarship Program. This will create 100,000 “Strong Climate Champions” by 2030, in every UN State, to help to drive the behavioural change and influence the fundamental government and industry actions needed to tackle Climate…

US Lifts Ban on Pot Workers, But Travel Rules Remain—For Now

The announcement by the US Customs and Border Protection agency that it will not impede Canadians who work in the rapidly growing cannabis industry from entering the United States for routine leisure or non-business travel suggests an easing of the federal government’s long-standing prohibition of marijuana use and commerce. The CBP statement, published on its website, reads: “A Canadian citizen working or facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry in Canada, coming to the U.S. for reasons unrelated to the marijuana industry will generally be admissible to the U.S., however if a traveler is found to be coming to the U.S. for a reason related to the marijuana industry, they may be deemed inadmissible.” The CBP clarification followed several weeks of speculation about how stringently CBP officers would enforce border restrictions on not only Canadian cannabis workers, but all other Canadian travellers whose own government has permitted them to…

Goodbye NAFTA. Hello USMCA. Hold on to Your Health Insurance

Canada’s new trade agreement with the United States and Mexico (replacing NAFTA) has gone through a tortuous negotiation, but finally has been completed. And according to the new rules built into USMCA (US, Mexico, Canada Agreement) there are no changes to visa requirements for workers and professionals affected by the new accord. The old NAFTA rules remain for business visitors, professionals, intra-company transferees, and traders and investors. (For details or updates on those rules, you can visit the Government of Canada’s website.) In short, the agreement doesn’t change a member country’s general immigration regulations governing public health, safety, and national security; and, significantly for workers and professionals posted abroad for long periods, it still doesn’t make provisions for any kind of reciprocity for health care coverage as has been a staple for individuals and companies operating within European Union countries. USMCA (like its forerunner NAFTA) is tied to trade, and…

StudyInsured: Your One-Stop Shop for International Student Insurance

Looking for the best travel insurance coverage for your international student(s)? Look no further – StudyInsured has it all! From protecting a student’s medical needs, to the accessibility of 24/7 multilingual emergency assistance services, and even a Stay Healthy at School Program. Read our latest press release on why StudyInsured is your one-stop shop for International Student Insurance. Are you an international student? Let us help you feel at home while you study abroad. We cover all your health insurance needs, give you easily accessible resources for navigating the healthcare systems, provide physical and mental wellness support through the Stay Healthy at School program, 24/7 claim services should you need assistance, and much more. For more information, visit https://www.inglestudents.com/studyinsured/, call us at 1-855-649-4182 or email us at studentteam@studyinsured.com.

New Canadian Biometric Requirements in Place for International Students and Other Visa Holders

As of July 31, 2018, international students applying for Canadian student visas from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa are required to provide biometric facial photos and fingerprint data to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) officers when entering the country. The requirements will also apply to applicants for visitor, work, permanent residency, or refugee asylum visas. Applicants already in Canada are temporarily exempt from the requirements pending the establishment of biometric application processing centres in Canada starting in 2019. Canada’s Biometric Initiative program, which is designed to ease legitimate travel to Canada while protecting national security and preventing identify fraud, will be extended to applicants from Asia, Asia- Pacific, and the Americas starting December 31, 2018. Canada already collects biometric data from refugee applicants from 30 countries. Tourists from visa-exempt countries with valid Electronic Travel Authorizations (eTA) are exempt from the requirement, as are: Canadian citizens US nationals Citizenship…

StudyInsured Has Been Named in the StudyTravel ST Star Awards 2018

We are pleased to announce that StudyInsured has been named in the Service Provider category of this year’s StudyTravel magazine ST Star Awards. The annual peer-voted ST Star Awards were first held in 2006 and reward quality across 25 categories, including travel agencies, language providers, vocational colleges, secondary schools, service providers and associations. StudyInsured has been providing best-in-class travel insurance to international students under the Ingle International Group of Companies since 1946. Giving peace of mind to educational institutions and students worldwide, this nomination represents some of the great strides StudyInsured has made in the last 12 months, with new product offerings, improved mental health support and our brand-new initiative to give back to school partners. The winner of each category will be revealed at an awards ceremony, held on the second evening of ST Alphe UK in London on September 1, 2018. Voting closes on April 26, 2018. …

Canadians Will Always Love Las Vegas

It was inevitable that Canadians, who account for almost one million air arrivals annually in Las Vegas, would be among the victims of the horrendous mass shootings this October. Next to Florida and Los Angeles, this city in the desert welcomes more Canadians arriving by air than any other. And the reasons are clear—it is an exciting, well-run, highly attractive location designed for purely one purpose—to attract tourism and make visitors feel welcome. What happened? The same thing that happened in Barcelona in August, in Paris and Nice in 2015, in Manchester and London earlier this year, in Orlando in 2016, and that will undoubtedly happen in other locations in the near future: unhinged zealots taking out their anger on innocent, defenseless people.  Are there lessons to be learned from these tragedies, given that they are so unexpected, random, and irrational? Perhaps the most common element is the presence of…

What Now for Mexico—Canada’s Most Favoured Leisure Destination?

In the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria which ravaged much of the Caribbean basin and Florida, and two massive earthquakes in Mexico, Canadian leisure travel options in North America’s hot countries have taken a huge hit. Though the 7.1 magnitude quake centred in Puebla State just south east of Mexico City (followed by a 6.1 magnitude aftershock) got most of the media attention, an earlier, and even bigger 8.2. quake that epicentred 120 km off shore in the Pacific, attacking the coastal southwestern states of Oaxaca, Chiapas and Tabasco, killed more than 100 residents and virtually shut down a normally bustling tourism industry. The combination of the two quakes and a high-magnitude aftershock, barely a week apart, covering huge areas of central Mexico to its southern border with Guatemala, have put a huge question mark over the ability of these areas to rebuild, and the availability of an infrastructure…

Travel Planning Lessons for Canadians from Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma has left a long-lasting legacy on many island countries of the Caribbean as well as the US southeast, especially Florida—a legacy that Canadians must factor into any short- or long-term travel plans for these regions. Full recovery in many of these areas—even those not prominently covered in the media– may take a long time. The full extent of damage is yet to be tallied, so be patient when trying to get more precise information about friends, family, or properties you may have in the affected areas. In the Caribbean, Turks and Caicos, Antigua, Anguilla, St. Barts, Bahamas, Cuba, and Saint Martin/Sint Maarten are all under Canadian government “Avoid All Travel” or “Avoid All Non-Essential Travel” warnings. In the face of hurricane Maria, Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico are also under advisement. These warning levels may change from day to day. To stay current, view the advisories online. Take…

Hurricane Irma Update

There is no part of Florida that has escaped the damage from Hurricane Irma and the demanding task of recovery and reconstruction that will take many months to come. For Canadians, particularly snowbirds that have property in Florida, the full impact may not yet be known. Communities remain isolated as power remains sporadic and transportation continues to be hampered by lack of fuel. Fort Lauderdale, a heavily commercial urban area, has few traffic lights in operation, supermarkets are powered by generators with shelves that are bare of staples, and ice (a crucially important product when power and refrigeration is out) is almost impossible to get. It is common to see drivers sitting in their cars idling while recharging their cellphones. Despite politicians’ promises that fuel is on its way, none appears to be showing up at a majority of service stations in this area. If you have property in any…

Travel Warning: Canadian Winter Texans Avoid Harvey

Global Canada has issued a stern “avoid all travel” warning to Canadians planning to visit flood-stricken Texas. Warnings extend from Port Mansfield—just north of the city of Brownsville (well-known to many winter Texan snowbirds), along the Gulf Coast, and inland areas including Houston. With tropical storm Harvey moving eastward into Louisiana, restricted travel warnings are likely to be extended well past the time Harvey calms down and the flood waters recede. We urge all Canadians anticipating travel to any part of Texas south of Dallas, especially Winter Texans concerned about their homes or properties in the Rio Grande Valley north of Brownsville (in the MacAllen/Harlingen area), to monitor the Global Canada website for current travel advisories and warnings. Travel Canada defines an “avoid all travel” warning level as, “an extreme risk to your personal safety and security. You should not travel to this country, territory, or region. If you are…

Terror Attack in Spain: How to Stay Aware

Incidents of terrorism swept across Alcanar, Barcelona, and Cambrils taking the lives of 15 people. Residents and visitors experienced great trauma, and the President of Spain declared 3 days of mourning. We stand united with Spain and all countries in the fight against terrorism. And we strongly encourage the return to daily activities, and travels! Add preventative measures to your upcoming trip with the safety checklist below. Purchase travel medical insurance coverage that works for you. Do not be discouraged by a pre-existing conditions, there are options for everyone. And don’t forget to read the fine print. Be aware of the Emergency Assistance feature in your travel medical insurance coverage and how to use it. Register your trip with your government agency, it is free of charge. Ensure your emergency contact information is easily accessible by you, your travel companion, or a Good Samaritan who can help you in the…

Your Guide to Travel Awareness

During the terrorist attack on London UK, casualties and injuries resulted in 4 dead and 40 injured. Though residents and travellers appear more rattled than days prior, London Mayor Sadiq Khan resolves, “Londoners will never be cowed by terrorism.” In that breath, it is important to continue travelling and review terrorism preparedness procedures. Over 70 years, Ingle International has developed a wealth of resources about specific events of terror, as well as risk response best practices. Take advantage of these hand-picked articles below, and keep travelling. Common Sense Tourism Protection Lessons From Orlando, Stay Vigilant Terrorism is Changing the Face and Price of Travel Europe Tightens Border Rules, Prepare but Still Enjoy Trip Cancellation Interruption Insurance in Times of Terror How to Respond to Active Shooter Situations A Helpful Guide to Plan for Travel Emergencies Have a look at our travel insurance options.

How to Stay Safe in Airports

The lethal shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on January 6, was as horrific as it was unpredictable: innocent people, thinking only of their vacations and a break from frigid weather at home. Instead, 5 shot dead, 6 others seriously wounded. Could this have been you? It’s not a question you should ponder too long. You can’t live your life afraid of all the things that could happen to you. And don’t delude yourself that Fort Lauderdale airport is a particularly “soft” target as US airports go. It is the 21st busiest airport in the US (just one spot behind LaGuardia), it boards over 13 million passengers per year, its security procedures are as tight as any in the country, and its 4 terminals and adjacent parking pavilions require maps to navigate. But its safety record remains admirable. With the help of professional safety and security advisories we can suggest…

Zika Virus Threat Expands to Miami Beach

Five new cases of local transmission of Zika virus have been reported in the heart of Miami Beach, in addition to the outbreak first reported late July in the Wynwood community located just north of downtown Miami. Last week, Florida Governor Rick Scott announced that just as several large sectors of the Wynwood area were cleared of evidence of transmission, 5 new cases of mosquito-borne Zika infection were reported in the densely-populated South Beach area of Miami Beach, south from 28th Street to 8th street, from the Atlantic Ocean to Biscayne Bay, an area encompassing less than 1.5 square miles. This area also includes the Miami Beach Convention Center, a popular venue for international meetings and conventions. The five new cases involved two Miami Beach residents and three out-of-area visitors. This brings the total of known locally-acquired Zika virus infections (transmitted by bites of the Aedes aegypti mosquito) in Miami-Dade County to…

Florida Updates Zika Virus Count

The Florida Department of Health reports an additional four new cases of locally-acquired Zika virus being investigated in Miami-Dade.. All of them were believed to have been infected in the one-square mile of Wynwood area, originally designated as the prime site of the recent outbreak. The department emphasizes that it “still believes active transmissions are only taking place within the identified area that is less than one square mile in Miami-Dade County.” Currently, there are no active investigations or any indications of active transmission in Broward County, which is immediately north of Miami-Dade. The FDH also reports the incidence of 14 new travel-related cases of Zika virus infection—four in Miami Dade, three in Orange County (Orlando area), two in Hernando County (St. Petersburg-Clearwater area), one in Broward County, one in Lee County (Fort Myers area), one in Monroe County (Keys area), and two involving pregnant women in un-named counties. These…

What You Should Do About the Zika Virus

What is the Zika virus? Zika is an arbovirus that is spread by the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti of mosquito. The greatest risk is to fetuses, particularly when expectant mothers are infected during the first trimester. Zika has been linked to microcephaly (abnormally small head) in newborn children. Thousands of such cases have been reported to date, especially in Brazil, which is thought to be the epicentre of the current breakout. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika. Up to 80 per cent of Zika virus infections are free of symptoms and go undetected. According to the Public Health Agency Canada (PHAC), these symptoms can include fever, headache, conjunctivitis (pink eye) and skin rash, along with joint and muscle pain. The illness is typically mild and lasts only a few days. Zika has also been linked to incidence of Guillain-Barre syndrome—a serious disorder of the body’s immune…

Safety Precautions for Canadian Travellers to Turkey

The recent coup attempt in Turkey, and the government’s massive retaliation, must be taken seriously by any Canadians planning to visit family or friends in that country.(According to the 2011 census, there were then almost 55,500 Canadian residents who claimed full or partial Turkish descent, and certainly a lot more today.) In the wake of the botched uprising, the Government of Canada has warned its citizens to “Avoid Non-Essential Travel” to Turkey as a whole, or to “Avoid All Travel” to its border region with Syria—specifically within 10 km of said border. These warnings are not just formalities. They can have serious consequences for you if you ignore them and then run into any problems or even misunderstandings while in that country. Following is what the advisories mean: Avoid non-essential travel There are specific safety and security concerns that could put you at risk. You should reconsider your need…

France Struck Yet Again

The month-long UEFA Euro 2016 soccer tournament held throughout France was labelled as a major event with a high threat level. Increased security presence was felt at the venues, and the public was kept safe for the most part, with the exception of some incidents with so-called hooligans. Tragically, though, just days after the tournament ended, an attack was carried out during the heart of French National Day celebrations. Bastille Day, or La Fête nationale, is a holiday that commemorates the storming of the Bastille in 1789. Bastille Day marks the beginning of republican democracy in France, and carries with it great significance and symbolism to the French culture that has now been tragically tainted. The Bastille Day attack is the worst attack since the November 2015 attacks in Paris. Around 30,000 people were gathered in Nice, France’s second-most-popular tourist destination, to celebrate and watch the fireworks over the Mediterranean…

Europe Travel Alert: World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland

The United States has issued a Europe Travel Alert lasting until August 31, 2016, warning travellers of the large number of tourists visiting Europe this summer and associated risks. Specifically, the surge in visitors presents a greater concern for potential terrorist attacks due to the number of large events. And although the alert covers Americans, Canadians are urged to heed the same advice and follow travel advisories if they are heading to Europe this summer. One major event the travel alert mentions is the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day, which is taking place in Krakow, Poland, from July 26 to July 31. The event is expected to draw upwards of 2.5 million visitors between the ages of 16 and 35 to the Polish city. The Polish Prime Minister’s Office has said there are no signs of increased terrorist activity in the country and reassured travellers that security will be stringent.…

UEFA Euro 2016: Europe Travel Alert

The United States has issued a Europe Travel Alert over the risk of potential terrorist attacks throughout Europe targeting tourist sites, major events, transportation, restaurants, and commercial centres. The alert focuses on the Euro 2016 soccer championship being held in France from June 10 to July 10 as a major event with a high threat level. France has issued a state of emergency until July 26, as the matches are expected to draw several million fans from across the continent and the globe. In the wake of the Paris and Brussels terrorist attacks that shook Europe, French security has taken major steps to mitigate any risk of further terrorist attacks during the third-largest sporting event in the world. Stade de France The Stade de France was one of the targets in the Paris terrorist attacks last November, where three suicide bombers attempted to reach the interior of the stadium…

How to Respond to Active Shooter Situations While Travelling

The attack on Pulse nightclub in Orlando has been characterized as the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States. Not surprisingly, this event has again brought active shooter situations to the forefront of public issues. While the likelihood of encountering an active shooter is extremely rare, we have provided a guide on how to prepare for and respond to these situations. How to prepare Active shooter situations can be unpredictable and random, which increases societal levels of fear. In many cases, active shooters try to inflict as much damage as possible in the short amount of time before authorities arrive on scene. You should understand the level of risk in the areas where you live, work, and visit. Know whether you may be a target, or whether any specific sites that you visit may be potential targets. Make sure you know where to go in the…

Lessons from Orlando: Stay Vigilant

The massacre of 49 Americans in Orlando should awaken us all to the reality that terrorism, and its avoidance, is now part of our lives—even within the shadow of Disney World. The tragedy we witnessed over live television and through social media this weekend brought home with brutal clarity that terrorism, whatever its source, is more than a European phenomenon. What happened in Paris and Brussels in late 2015 and early 2016 has happened here, in America’s heartland. We might have expected Times Square—but Orange Avenue in downtown Orlando? We must learn from this horrific event. Vigilance is everybody’s business, no matter where or when. Shortly after the Bataclan massacre in Paris in November 2015, American theme parks warned of longer lineups as they tightened up their screening measures. So did sports arenas and entertainment venues. Airports, already horribly overcrowded, just kept adding to your pain. What does Orlando, June 12,…

The Latest on the Zika Virus

(Written by Dr. Michael Szabo, Medical Director, Ingle International) The Zika virus is still a hot topic in infectious disease circles. Here are three recent developments in our understanding of this important virus. Zika causes microcephaly The CDC has recently reached the definitive conclusion that the Zika virus causes microcephaly. Its evidence has been published in The New England Journal of Medicine[1]. Until now, the Zika–microcephaly connection had merely been suspected, given the lack of data showing that Zika was the direct cause. That has now changed. Zika is now being linked to other problems in the offspring of affected pregnant mothers, including hearing and vision problems and cognitive deficits The data are still being investigated, and the association is not definitive at this point. This development is certainly worrying, since until now microcephaly was the only concern. Sexual transmission of the virus is now more of a concern than…

Zika Virus: What You Need to Know

Everyone is talking about the Zika virus right now. Not since rubella have we seen an infectious disease with the ability to cause widespread fetal malformations. The situation has all the makings of a public health emergency, and we need to understand more about this virus. But let’s keep in mind the following five facts as we understand them right now: We do not know for sure that the Zika virus causes microcephaly in fetuses—other co-agents or other factors may be involved. According to the WHO, it will take between 6 and 9 months before we will know with more certainty. The same holds true for the potential relationship between Zika and Guillain–Barré syndrome, a neurological disorder that can cause paralysis. According to Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at University Health Network in Toronto, the primary mode of transmission is mosquitoes—by far. Dr. Bogoch further states that…

Mosquito Power: Don’t Test It

Travellers, particularly pregnant women, heading to Zika-prone areas need to stay alert. We’ll help you with that as warmer, wetter weather approaches and mosquitos come out of hiding to feast on bare skin. To date, the Zika virus has been carried primarily (as far the experts know) by the Aedes aegypti species of mosquito. But there is growing suspicion that Aedes albopictus is a potential carrier. If this turns out to be the case, the risk area for Zika virus transmission will explode. The highest risk identified to date is throughout the entire subtropical and tropical area of North America: the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, most of South American (except Chile), and the southern U.S.—mostly Florida, the Gulf States, including Texas, the southern Atlantic coast region, and southern Arizona. If Aedes albopictus, which is common well beyond A. aegypti’s range, becomes a co-conspirator and joins the latter transmitting the Zika virus, then the entire area south of…

Zika “Emergency” in Florida—What Does It Mean for Canadians?

Florida Governor Rick Scott has declared a Zika-related public health emergency in five counties—Miami-Dade, Broward (Fort Lauderdale area), Hillsborough (Tampa area), Lee (Fort Myers area), and Santa Rosa (western Panhandle), citing confirmation of at least 12 cases of the virus. All of the cases are travel-related, i.e., the virus was contracted outside of the state, and the number is expected to rise over the next few days. The emergency order directs health and agricultural authorities to implement stringent mosquito control activities (spraying, removal of standing water, etc.) in all residential areas in those counties and to use any other measures deemed necessary to limit mosquito habitats. Said the governor: “[…] we have to ensure Florida is prepared and stays ahead of the Zika virus in our state.” His announcement is expected to be followed by similar actions in other states where Aedes aegypti (the mosquito species known to transmit the…

The Zika Virus Advances: Part 2

Since early January, when we first alerted you to the emergence of the Zika virus throughout the Americas, the impact of this mosquito-borne disease has been dynamic—even inducing several governments to advise pregnant women to avoid travel to a growing number of Zika-prone countries. The reason for singling out pregnant women (or those who might become pregnant) is that the Zika virus has been linked to an extraordinary surge of microcephaly—a fetal deformity resulting in unusually small heads and brains in newborns. The epicenter of this surge, and the region where it has been aggressively researched and documented, is Brazil, where almost 4,000 suspected cases were identified in 2015—30 times more than in any one-year period since 2010. Were it not for this link to newborn microcephaly, we likely wouldn’t be talking about Zika today, since its other manifestations are relatively mild (fever, rash, headaches, joint paint, and conjunctivitis) and…

Travel Warning: Zika Virus Invades The Americas

If you or someone you know is planning to travel to the Caribbean, Mexico, or Central or South America, you need to be aware that a locally transmitted case of a newly detected mosquito-borne virus has recently been reported in Puerto Rico and Mexico, raising concerns that it could soon make its way to South Florida and South Texas. Outbreaks of the Zika virus had been previously reported in Africa, Asia, and the Oceania–Pacific regions. However, in December 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) reported confirmed cases of Zika infections in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, Paraguay, Suriname, and Venezuela. Locally transmitted means mosquitos in these areas have been infected with the virus and are spreading it to humans. Now let’s make one thing clear: the Zika virus is no Ebola or SARS. So far, the virus has not been linked to…

Lessons from Paris for Canadian Travellers

If there is anything positive to come out of the terrorist attacks on Paris, it is the clear indication that you and millions of your peers will not be intimidated and forced into chucking your travel plans aside. Travel is what many of you live for, so go ahead with your plans—but add a layer of protection. Unfortunately, the events in Paris last week are not the last of the tragedies our society will face, so it pays to be prepared. One of the first lessons to be learned out of Paris is that when a city, country, or entire region is thrown into panic, the impact and anxiety is felt not only by the traveller but also by the traveller’s family and loved ones at home. You can avert much of that anxiety by maintaining clear and close links with your home base. Here are a couple steps you…

Sun Belt Weather for 2015–2016: Watch Out for “Godzilla” El Niño

Heard enough about freaky weather lately? Well, there’s more you need to know, especially if you’re heading south for all or part of the winter. And it mostly has to do with El Niño—the Pacific Ocean warming phenomenon that cycles in every two to seven years and dominates northern hemisphere weather patterns for months at a time. This year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting one of the strongest El Niño seasons ever recorded. Some of the experts who track these phenomena have even begun describing the forthcoming El Niño as the Godzilla of El Niños. But even they admit that the weather is a fickle master, and it can change in an instant. If there were an overview we might give you now, it would be the following: regardless where you are going in the Sun Belt, take your umbrellas along. And for most areas, you’re…

Shootings in Chattanooga: Emergency Planning in Today’s World of Security Risks

On July 16, 2015, a gunman opened fire in Chattanooga, Tennessee, targeting two separate United States military installations. The first shooting took place when the gunman began shooting at the glass doors of the Combined Armed Forces Recruiting Center while remaining in his car. All servicemen and women escaped through the back of the recruitment center, although one marine was injured in the crossfire. The shooter then drove seven miles to the next location, the Naval Operational Support Center and Marine Reserve Center. The gunman ran his car through the security gate and moved methodically through the facility, killing four marines before he was shot and killed by Chattanooga police officers. One of the shooting victims, a United States Navy sailor, died of his injuries two days later. The suspect was identified as Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, a Kuwaiti-born 24-year-old who holds Jordanian citizenship. Abdulazeez was an American citizen who grew…

Travel Warning: MERS Outbreak in South Korea

An outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) has been reported in South Korea, with 95 confirmed cases and 7 deaths thus far. As many as 2,500 people have also been quarantined to contain the situation. This is the first significant spread of the virus outside the Middle East, where it was originally reported in 2012. For travellers, there is no need to panic yet. So far, Canadian and American government agencies haven’t issued any warnings to avoid travel to South Korea. At present, it seems that human-to-human spread of the virus is not that easy, and is mostly restricted to situations with close contact (such as patient-caregiver contact). However, it’s still important for travellers to be diligent and informed about situations like the MERS outbreak whenever they’re heading abroad. Here are a few tips that can help any traveller stay safe: Be aware of travel advisories and warnings. Before…

Earthquake in Nepal: How Climbers and Backpackers Can Prepare Their Travel Safety Net

After a devastating earthquake followed by frightening aftershocks in the south Asian country of Nepal, many travellers have found themselves unexpectedly stranded, injured, or even worse.  For those who have survived, widespread damage means that resources to help them are in short supply. In the event of natural disasters like this, we are often asked what travellers can do to prepare and keep themselves safe. While, of course, there’s no way to avert an earthquake—and often no way to see it coming—there are numerous steps you can take that will help you stay safe or get access to the care you need. How can travel medical insurance help in the event of a disaster abroad? We’ve written many times about the reasons why travel insurance is a necessity for any trip. But what will travel insurance actually do for you in the event that you’re in an area affected…

How Will President Obama’s Announcement on Cuba Affect Insurance Agents?

How does President Barack Obama’s recent announcement regarding the significant changes to travel and financial transactions with Cuba affect your clients? Canadians, Latin Americans, and Europeans have been visiting Cuba as a travel destination for decades, In fact, Canadians are the top travellers to Cuba, making over one million trips to the country each year. However, the Cuban-USA foreign affairs embassy has been closed since 1961, which has meant that borders between the US and Cuba have not been open to US citizens for over 50 years. While President Obama’s recent announcement on loosening restrictions between the two countries means significant changes for Cuban-USA relations, it will also have the following effects for Canadians, Latin Americans, and Europeans travelling to Cuba: Improvement to the country’s infrastructure—more money pouring into the country means improvements to building, roads, and public facilities. Difficulties booking accommodations like hotels and resorts—with potentially millions of additional visitors…