The importance of travel insurance

(iStock)
(iStock)

The end of the year is just around the corner, and some of you may be planning to jet overseas or visit family up country.

You wouldn’t forget to pack a bag, just like you wouldn’t forget your passport or air ticket for your trip. It is equally important to remember to take out travel insurance. 

Keep your holiday stress-free

Travelling can involve a number of risks.

Imagine if you were to have a medical emergency in a foreign country, or a natural disaster forces you to have to evacuate the resort you are staying in.

What if your flight is cancelled or your baggage gets lost? And what would you do if your passport or wallet were stolen while on holiday?

Travel insurance takes care of such stress, but before you buy, keep in mind that it may be partially included through some of your other policies.

It is worthwhile to check this while assessing what level of cover you will need.

Types of travel insurance

Travel insurance can range from a simple policy that covers your gadgets in case of theft, to a comprehensive policy that will pay to air-lift you to the closest quality hospital anywhere in the world in the event of a medical emergency.

In general, medical, cancellation, baggage, delay, personal liability and personal accident cover are included in a travel insurance policy – with various limits on the cover depending on what you choose.

There are two major classes of travel insurance, namely international and domestic.

International travel insurance

You purchase travel insurance for international trips through an insurer in your country of residence – the country to which you'd want to be returned after a serious medical emergency, or the country you'd need to travel to if a family member became very ill (these are assumed to be the same country). This is a vital part of international travel.

Many healthcare arrangements won't apply in other countries and you will either need insurance or to be able to pay all medical bills out of pocket.

Domestic travel insurance

If travelling locally, you can buy domestic travel insurance.

These policies are generally cheaper than international policies because they usually don't include medical coverage, as it is presumed you have other arrangements in place (i.e. medical aid).

They focus on compensating you for purely travel-related problems like cancellations and closures.

They are generally less essential, and you can consider their worth on a trip-by-trip basis.

Cost of travel insurance

Your chosen cover will affect the cost of the insurance, so when shopping around for the best cover for you, consider the following:

How long you will be travelling for (include the day you leave, the day you arrive home, plus an additional day or two on either side of your trip in case there are travel delays).

Travel insurance covers various situations that may be excluded from basic cover offered by credit card companies and healthcare plans. Be sure to purchase a suitable and adequate insurance plan if you need more specific or special cover.

Most importantly, be aware of the exclusions in your chosen cover.

In most instances travel is all about freedom, and topics like travel insurance may appear to take the fun out of things.

However, it is a decision that could make or break your journey. Ultimately, there is also no price on peace of mind. So speak to your adviser if you’re unsure about what cover you need, and happy travelling.

Bertus Visser is Chief Executive of Distribution at PSG Insure

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