Whether heading off to rest and relax on an overseas beach, or sticking to the shores of Mzansi, making sure ‘your papers are in order’ includes more than having an up-to-date passport. Travel insurance is often taken for granted and when it is accepted as a default option when making a flight booking, it is important to consider that policies come with limitations. Being sure about what is covered and what isn’t is part of avoiding an overly costly vacation.
“For any trip, ‘doing your homework’ and being prepared are critical, and the same applies for insurance,” says Jason Veitch, Head of Travel Insurance Consultants (TIC), a specialist division of Santam, which has been insuring travellers internationally and locally for close to 30 years. Based on his experience in the sector, Veitch shares three valuable travel tips in advance of the holiday season.
Beware of free travel insurance
Free travel insurance sounds appealing, but bear in mind that the product mostly provides for a limited amount of medical expenses, with limited cover for losses such as damaged or lost luggage. Some losses may or may not be covered while travelling, such as a pre-existing medical illness, so ask about all the conditions before accepting ‘free’ insurance. In the case of travel insurance through a credit card, it is important to note the amount of cover is linked to the type of credit card (i.e. platinum, gold, silver, etc.).
Consider country-specific medical cover
The biggest cost while travelling overseas can result from health problems. Due to the strength of the rand against some countries, medical bills in a foreign currency may mean the costs are automatically more expensive. Ideally, medical assistance should be available on 24/7 basis with no exclusions in place. For example, if you are over a certain age (usually 70, depending on your insurer), or if you have a pre-existing condition (such as a heart problem), you may have to take top-up cover or special cover. If pregnant when travelling, it is important to note that generally you are only covered if something goes wrong up to the 26th week of the pregnancy.
Ensure cover for extreme sports or activities
For those who like a bit of adventure when traveling (for example, bungee jumping or white water rafting), you may not be insured, depending on whether the travel insurer deems the activity too dangerous. Always check what is covered if you’re into ‘adrenaline sports’. The same principle applies if you choose to visit a high-risk area or conflict zone.