Written by Samantha Steyn
With so many different types of insurance packages on offer, travel
insurance is the one that often gets overlooked. If you are someone that travels often, however, whether for business or leisure, you are far better off being insured than facing the risks alone. If you disagree, then go on and read these 10 things you ought to know about travel insurance. No doubt you will have changed your mind by the time you get to number 4…
1. Peace of Mind
The whole idea behind travelling is to forget your worries and go on adventure. Our daily lives are flooded with stressful thoughts on finances, work, family relationships and more. Time spent on holiday, or away from the usual routine, should be where we get to catch a break from these all-consuming fears. Without travel insurance, you are bound to find yourself worrying about the possibilities of significant losses that may result from lost baggage, medical emergencies, supplier defaults and/or cancelled trips. Why be plagued with worry when you can enjoy peace of mind knowing that you are insured, should the worst happen? It’s a no-brainer.
2. The Minimum Requirements
It’s important to know, beforehand, the minimum requirements you are permitted to request when setting up your travel insurance. Your insurance policy should offer at least R 22 000 000 in medical expenses, in case the very worst should happen. Think that’s a lot of money? Now you know why you need insurance! It should also offer 24-hour emergency service as well as deportation should you need to be flown home, immediately. In short, and to be sure we have covered all bases, here is a list for you to tick off when it comes to choosing a suitable travel insurance; the policy should include:
3. The Costly Alternative
- Cancellation of tour arrangement/flights
- Lost and/or stolen possessions
- Legal expenses
- Personal liabilities
- Health and medical expenses
- Accident, injury or death
- Natural disasters
- Supplier defaults
“In a survey done in 2012, about 16% of the participants believed that travel insurance is unnecessary because the government will shoulder any medical expenses they incur abroad, which is completely not true.” Although predominant in first world countries, this line of thought is also common within South Africa. The biggest assumption made is that health insurance is the same as travel medical insurance. This is, also, untrue. The truth is that if you are uninsured, you (or your next of kin) will be personally liable for covering any medical or other expenses confronted with while abroad. Although perceived to be expensive, the advantages of travel insurance far outweigh the cost. Travel insurance is known to only occupy 2 - 8% of your total travel budget. Remember that South African travellers face an uphill battle with global currencies that perform much better than ours. Medical costs, in general, are known to be high. Now, times that by ten and you will have the minimum amount owed in the event of a medical emergency. Those cheap flights you happened to come by will be of no worth if you are not insured against the bigger, scarier expenses.
4. Where and How
Travel insurance is not hard to get. You can acquire it through Websites, cruise lines, and/or travel agencies. It can be beneficial to purchase travel insurance online as you save time and receive cancellation cover straight away. Should you be unable to acquire the insurance online, then it is suggested that you do it as soon as your flights have been booked (once again so that cancellation cover will be obtained). Refer to the ‘Be On Time’ point below for more information.
5. Never Too Young
The common assumption that travel insurance is an unnecessary cost is, fundamentally, based on the fact that the majority of people travelling the world these days are in their early twenties. Young people are often under the impression that they are immortal and have their whole lives ahead of them. While this is mostly true, reality can often paint a different picture. No one is immune to falling victim to an accident or illness while in a foreign country, far away from their usual medical care. So, to all you globetrotters under thirty, be care free, not stupid. Be sure to sign up for travel insurance today!
6. How to Save on Travel Insurance
Despite the fact that travel insurance in and of itself not overly expensive, there are ways to save and make it even less of an expense. One way to do this is to exclude your cash and belongings from being covered. If you travel lightly and do not carry around anything you could not live without, than you need not bother insuring it as this will only increase your premiums. Secondly, don’t pay out too much for a premium if you aren’t going to make the most of it. Be sure to choose a policy that only includes the activities that you plan on taking part in. No more and no less. Lastly, before taking out full travel insurance, check to see if you already have some coverage that you are perhaps unaware of. Although unlikely, you may have possible coverage within your health insurance, family policies, and/or credit card or banking packages.
7. Carry it With You
The worst thing you can do is apply for travel insurance, receive it and then forget your insurance details at home. Where possible, make photocopies and leave them with a friend or family member in case yours gets lost/stolen. From your side, save the details onto your phone and/or on any other device for easy access and safe keeping.
8. Read the Small Print
As with most things, be sure to read the small print of any policy you are considering purchasing. In the case of an emergency, you will need to know what you can and cannot do when it comes to making a claim. For example, many insurance companies will not pay out if you fail to contact them before any medical treatment is given. Similarly, if you don’t receive a valid police report within 24 hours of having experienced theft, you will not receive anything from the broker. It does not help to have travel insurance and not know how to use it.
9. What Isn’t Covered
Most insurance companies will be willing to help you out, within reason. As much as you are encouraged to be care free on your travels, do not assume that just because you have travel insurance, you are invincible or able to take excessive risks. Any accidents caused by alcohol or drug abuse, no matter how small, will not be paid out by your insurance. Just something to bear in mind when offered a drink too many by those attractive foreigners.
10. Be on Time
One final thing to remember is the timing in which you choose to purchase your travel insurance. Once having boarded your flight, your chances of obtaining travel insurance for that particular trip are greatly reduced. Most insurers will only provide coverage if the insurance is purchased before leaving to go travel. Therefore, try to remain organised right up until handing over your ticket to the flight attendant. Then, it’s time to let your hair down and enjoy!