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Travel is a bug that bites many of us from time to time. For some others, the bite lingers, turning chronic. The result is a perpetual need to satisfy their wanderlust. With vacationers and business tourists, these constant travelers form a bustling mass making its way through airports, train platforms and freeways.
Being a rolling stone can be fun for many of these people. But not every moment is a carefree one. What nags at them? Find out from these three of a kind.
Andy Bryant’s job is the envy of any sport fanatic. Every four years, he’s on the sidelines of the Olympics, filing copy for wire services. In between, he covers the Winter Olympics, the Rugby World Cup, the Commonwealth Games and some of the bigger cricket tournaments. Occasionally, he works at a FIFA World Cup. If not, he’s just as happy being a spectator.
Andy is an incurable nomad. A wordsmith-for-hire, he works around the world, not settling anywhere. Home is Sydney, Australia but you will rarely find him there. He picks up short-term work in places as far apart as Abu Dhabi, Barcelona and London.“I’ve pretty well been living out of a suitcase for the past 16 months,” he says, when we catch up with him in Beijing, where he is editing a magazine for the next year. “Occasionally, I hit my storage unit in London to swap my two sets of winter clothes for two sets of summer clothes, but that is the closest thing I’ve had to a base for a while.”
While he enjoys this lifestyle, it wasn’t a choice he made. “These are just the type of jobs I am offered, so it keeps me moving.” His bugbear is health insurance. The Australian scheme doesn’t cover him overseas and he rarely remains in another country long enough to qualify for local insurance – at least at a reasonable price. “In Germany, they wanted me to pay 1,600 euros per month as a freelancer. What was my option? Keep moving!”
A 55-year-old, Andy is reluctant to ignore the risk of hefty medical bills. In the past, he bought travel insurance for coverage against sickness or accident but such products are usually designed for short-term trips.
So now he shops around. When heading to the 2016 Olympics, Andy found a pan-America health insurance that covered him when he traveled through Canada, reached Miami and worked at Rio before visiting Argentina and Chile. In China, he has taken out an annual international health insurance that includes day-to-day coverage for medical expenses such as doctor visits, planned surgery, emergency treatment, outpatient care and dental work.
Allianz Worldwide Partners (AWP) is among the few insurers offering global plans for expats living abroad for an extended period. Plans also include cover for chronic and congenital conditions and a wide range of pre-existing conditions, often without any additional costs.
Robyn Madden made a name for herself back in the early 70s photographing bands. Small but feisty, she was a match for any of the big names that wanted to play prima donna in her California studio. There is a good chance that some of the old iconic images you associate with Metallica or Guns N’ Roses are her work. She is retired now, happy to sit down and reminisce about those heady days – if you can catch her. Robyn and her fellow photographer husband have just returned to their London apartment after a long trip driving around New Zealand. They soon head off to Portugal.
The two are obsessively curious about the world. But the reckless days are behind them. They buy annual travel insurance to cover any mishaps during their trips, but what really worries Robyn is her father, Frank. Aged 92, he is still active and alert, living alone on the U.S. West Coast. When she goes on her average of seven trips a year, Robyn ensures she is in email or phone contact with her father. Still, she would be happier knowing someone was checking on him regularly. Enter home and health monitoring services.
As more countries super-age (when 21 percent or more of the population is aged 65 and older) the demand for such services is expected to rise going forward. Typically, such services unobtrusively monitor human activity in either independent or assisted-living situations by using sensors. Sensors can, for example, record how many hours a person sleeps, if cupboard or refrigerator doors are being opened or electrical devices are being used.
If the sensors pick up a change in the daily patterns, a caregiver is notified. Depending on the service, the caregiver could be a relative, a call center or both. The idea is to not only respond to emergencies — such as a sudden lack of movement – but also to identify early warning signs of illness even before the patient notices it. AWP offers such a 24x7 service. In France, for example, AWP has 80,000 subscribers. It responds to 860,000 alarms a year. So far, AWP has responded to 120,000 interventions – 30,000 of which were emergencies. Robyn is considering such a solution for her father.
Maybe for herself too someday.
“I can see a time – hopefully many years from now – when I may want such a service to continue to live independently into a grand old age. I know my son will worry about us, but with such a service he can live his own life a little easier.”
Robert Gross is a scriptwriter for a children’s TV program on animals. Thrice a year, he and his production crew visit exotic locations for up to six weeks. His last trip was to Indonesia, where they traipsed through jungles to film animals such as komodo dragons and orangutans – at least that was the plan. “The most annoying part of the job is when the animals don’t show up,” he says, referring to the no-show of the orangutans. “Perhaps they didn’t get the shot list,” he laughs.
While he travels for work, Robert tacks on a week or two to experience the country. “I probably will never get back to many of them, so I want to take the opportunity to see them while I am there.” This means that his home is left uninhabited for up to six months a year. Neighbors drop in every few days to water the plants and collect mail but break-ins and damage from water leaks are a constant risk.
The team will soon head to Namibia to film naked mole rats, meerkats and the world’s toughest animal - the Honey Badger. This time around, Robert has decided to use a remote home monitoring service and he is seeking the best option. AWP provides ‘Smart Home’ solutions combining Panasonic hardware with its home protection services. The system is easy to install and comprises intelligent windows and doors, water leak and glass break sensors as well as an indoor siren. These connect via the ‘Ultra Low Energy’ standard to a central hub in the home. The hub links securely to a 24/7 customer hotline.
In case of an incident, such as motion detection, glass breakage or water leakage, the system sends an alert to the customer’s smartphone or tablet. It also activates the indoor siren and notifies the service center. Action can then be taken to limit the damage – for example, sending a craftsman to replace a broken window or repair a leaking pipe, or alerting the security service if the burglar alarm goes off. A locksmith service is included in the package.
It’s an option Robert is considering. “It would definitely make me rest a little easier on those overseas trips,” he finishes.
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