Travel Insurance is Important
It is is sensible to be in possession of a comprehensive travel insurance policy and on some of our trips it is mandatory. Good travel insurance is crafted to cover everything you need, medical emergencies and other losses incurred while traveling. Typically, it covers such things as the cost of lost baggage and cancelled flights, but it may or may not cover some costs of medical attention you may need while abroad, so choose your insurance carefully.
The kinds of risks usually covered
The most common risks that could be covered by travel insurance include:
- Medical emergency (accident or sickness)
- Emergency evacuation
- Repatriation of remains
- Return of a minor
- Trip cancellation
- Trip interruption
- Accidental death, injury or disablement benefit
- Overseas funeral expenses
- Lost, stolen or damaged baggage, personal effects or travel documents
- Delayed baggage (and emergency replacement of essential items)
- Missed flight connection
Additional and Optional Cover
Some travel policies will also provide cover for additional costs, although these vary widely between providers. In addition, often separate insurance can sometimes be purchased for specific costs such as:
- Pre-existing conditions (e.g. asthma, diabetes)
- Sports with a higher element of risk (e.g. skiing, scuba diving)
- Travel insurance can also provide helpful services, often 24 hours a day, 7 days a week that can include concierge services and emergency travel assistance.
Common risks and things that can go wrong
Many people make the sometimes-fatal mistake of assuming things cannot go wrong when they are on holiday. Caught up in the thrill of traveling it’s human nature to relax when it comes to taking responsibility for your personal health and safety. When things do go wrong, it very often comes down to the money and who is going to pay – you need to be adequately covered in the event of a serious medical problem, and you need to evaluate the risks inherent with travel.
Make sure you purchase your policy as soon as you can as cover is only for events that occur after you have purchased a policy.
You can get seriously ill whilst on holiday
Scenario: A traveler in Mozambique was diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy. The local medical facilities were not able to handle this medical event and the decision was made by the attending doctor and the insurer to transfer the patient to another medical facility in Johannesburg South Africa. The patient was transferred by private air ambulance because of the life threatening nature of the condition and was then repatriated back to their home.
When things go wrong overseas, travel insurance ensures that you receive the appropriate care, even if it means moving you to another country to receive it. Good insurance means emergency medical teams liaise directly with you and your family, as well as medical staff on the ground, to make sure you receive timely treatment.
You need to cancel your flight
Scenario: You purchased your travel insurance a few weeks ago and you are booked to fly out on 25 July at 8:30pm. Early in the morning on 25 July, you awoke with a severe fever, coughing, and an inability to breathe properly. You go to the doctor later that morning and are was advised that you are unfit to travel as you have a severe chest infection that requires antibiotics and over a week of rest. You cancel the flight immediately.
Cancellation is an important part of every travel insurance policy. When you buy your policy before you depart, you should be covered if you are seriously suddenly sick or seriously injured and cannot start your trip. Some policies include coverage for pre-booked travel if your trip is interrupted after it starts.
You have property stolen from you on holiday
You and your family are doing a self-drive trip through South Africa. You stop overnight at a Kruger Park rest camp. At around 4 a.m., someone breaking in to the luggage compartment of the vehicle awakens you. They get away with your day packs.
Being robbed is scary enough for anyone, but made even more painful when you cannot recoup the cost of your stolen items. With travel insurance, you should be covered for reimbursement for the cost of stolen items, but you can also submit your claim online, whilst you are traveling.
Make sure you have the receipts of the things you take with you or buy on your trip and after the theft get a police report or contact your emergency assistance team for help!
You can have an accident whilst on holiday
Scenario: A traveler was trekking and had a very bad accident, suffering a spinal injury. The emergency teams and local medical staff assisted in getting the patient stabilized, then airlifted to a major hospital for treatment after the insurer’s emergency assistance team was contacted. The specialized spinal treatment was covered by the policy, as was the costs of returning the patient home.
Whether you are into climbing Kilimanjaro, white water rafting the Zambezi, or wine tasting in the Cape, your insurance should provide cover for a wide range of adventure sports, as well as providing travel safety tips through their website, so you know how to stay safe when traveling.
What is excluded, what is covered and what to look out for
You cannot assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It is very important to find out before you leave. You should ask your insurance company the following:
- Does this insurance policy cover emergency expenses abroad such as returning me home for treatment if I become seriously ill
- Does this insurance cover high-risk activities such as para sailing, mountain climbing, scuba diving and off-roading
- Does this policy cover pre-existing conditions
- Does the insurance company require pre-authorizations or second opinions before emergency treatment can begin
- Does the insurance company guarantee medical payments abroad
- Will the insurance company pay foreign hospitals and foreign doctors directly
- Does the insurance company have a 24-hour physician-backed support center