Why is travel insurance so important

According to recent statistics, 5.5 million South Africans travelled abroad in 2016, showing that travel has become a part of many people’s lives — be that for business or leisure. A vacation can be an enriching experience that allows us to step away from our daily lives to relax and, enjoying it with added peace-of-mind is an added bonus!

Remember, just because you’re on holiday doesn’t mean that you can’t avoid events that are outside of your control, and can occur anywhere in the world at any time. Travel insurance gives you the peace-of-mind that you are covered in the event of disaster so that you won’t be burdened with the extra stress of expenses you can’t meet.

Travel insurance will offer options to cover common travel issues, such as lost luggage, cancellations that are out of your control and, most importantly, medical emergencies. Think of it in the same way as car insurance, and protect yourself and your family when you travel in case things go wrong.

The cost of a small medical procedure abroad could easily deplete an entire holiday budget. Bearing in mind that hospital bills can easily run into (hundreds of) thousands of Rands if you are visiting countries without public healthcare, such as the United States. Travel insurance also provides a certain degree of protection against currency fluctuations, as any claims incurred will be paid in the currency of your destination, even though you pay for your policy in South African Rand.

What does it cover?

You may find that basic travel insurance is provided by your bank if you buy your flight on your credit card. However, this type of cover tends to come with some restrictions, so may not be sufficient depending on certain factors, such as your age or travel destination.

Most comprehensive travel insurance policies provide emergency medical cover; death and disability cover; legal assistance and personal liability cover; luggage cover; and losses incurred as a result of unpreventable cancellation.
However, do be aware that not all policies are cut from the same cloth, and a specific type of travel insurance — such as for business purposes, senior citizens, or groups — could better cater to your needs.

It is, therefore, important to do your research when looking for cost-effective cover, and to examine your insurance policy (and the small print) carefully to determine exactly what is included. Do also be sure to check how much excess you would have to pay if you did need to cancel your trip.

When comparing policies, it’s advisable to first decide exactly what level of cover you will need, and make sure that you won’t be left under-insured for the things that count. It may be tempting to opt for the cheapest insurance, but a few extra Rands could potentially save you a lot of money in the long run.

Depending on where you are going, you may also want to purchase extra cover to ensure that you are covered if, for example, an act of terrorism occurs that puts you at risk or changes your plans. However, do note that some travel insurance providers will refuse to cover you if you are travelling to a disaster-prone area, or a country where there is political unrest or a health epidemic.

Adventure activities, such as skiing, mountain biking and scuba diving, come with an element of risk so, if you intend to hit the slopes or the sea, it’s important to be insured for any accidents and injuries that may occur. Having the maximum amount of emergency medical cover is worth the investment if you are planning to do anything that could be dangerous. You may also have expensive sports equipment that is worth insuring too.

Domestic travel insurance

Don’t be complacent when it comes to travelling domestically, as accidents can still occur on home ground. South Africa is a big country (the Kruger National Park alone is the size of Israel!) and you can still end up in trouble when you’re a long way from your usual comforts and contacts.

It’s a good idea to tailor your insurance package to meet your needs, so that you can be protected and save money in the case of any unfortunate events. Residents travelling around the country stand to greatly benefit from a policy that is specifically designed to address the concerns of South African travellers, such as car rental excess waivers, and cancellation and curtailment cover.

Plan for the unexpected this holiday season, and purchase your chosen policy as soon as you have paid for your trip. This won’t cost you a Rand more, but, so long as cancellation cover is included, it will mean that you’ll be protected from the minute you’ve bought it. That said, if you still haven’t purchased travel insurance for your December leave, it’s not too late — as long as you arrange it before you step onto the plane! Don’t hesitate to arrange a meeting if you need more advice on the matter or information on your financial situation.

(Information gathered from all4women.co.za and moneysupermarket.com)

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