It’s strange to think that just a hundred years ago, very few people were travelling abroad. Most people didn’t even own cars before the 1900s, and yet, travel insurance has been around since as far back as 1864.
This overwhelming need for protection against theft or accidents while travelling was recognised long before it’s time and, fast forward to today, the need is greater than ever. The risks we face in the modern world are so outlandish, dangerous and numerous that many would be beyond the wildest imagination of the average 1900s adventurer, and far more expensive to deal with should you not have the right cover.
While the thought of purchasing travel insurance many have raised many an eyebrow in the past, the modern traveller is far more aware of the risks awaiting them on foreign shores, and far more likely to account for insurance in the overall cost of travel.
Global events such as acts of terrorism, deadly virus outbreaks, extreme weather or war have significantly increased our awareness of unpredictable travel disruptions. We now know that these events could arrive suddenly, and without warning.
Travel insurance is no longer viewed as a commodity, but the purchase of protection.
It makes perfect sense that we, as travellers, should spend a little bit more on these types of insurance, which is relatively affordable and easy to apply for. The benefits far outweigh the costs or effort required.
Let’s take a look at some of them.
What are some of the benefits to purchasing travel insurance when travelling abroad?
For one, travel insurance can cover us from loss before we’ve even boarded the plane, such as in the case of unexpected trip cancellations. We fall ill, something important comes up, we run a little late and miss our flight. We’ve already spent money on a costly trip, and now it’s gone forever. With the right cover, though, we’re reimbursed.
This type of cancellation and curtailment cover can also cover you should you have to cut your trip short by returning home early, for various specific reasons (which could include medical), and reimburses you for, example, unused travel or accommodation services you may have already booked and paid for.
Travel insurance also covers personal liability while travelling, protecting you in situations such as damaging a rental car or somebody else’s property.
How about personal items, identification, credit cards or passports that are lost or stolen? Tourists have always been easy targets.
Baggage delayed or lost before you’ve even set foot on foreign soil? There’s cover for that.
Two main factors contribute to travellers electing not to purchase adequate travel insurance:
Of course, there’s another factor to keep in mind.
The worst – and often most preventable – kind of outcome would be to find ourselves stranded, hopeless and in possible danger while on foreign soil. One of the most important benefits to travel insurance, and one that is seldom thought about, is the cover for emergency medical assistance, personal accidents and emergency transportation or evacuation while abroad.
We’re talking about the health and safety of ourselves and our loved ones.
Most medical aids will cover members travelling abroad. There are, however, limitations to this cover, and in these instances we find the true value – if not necessity – in purchasing travel insurance.
South African residents who would like to travel Europe on a Schengen visa may find that their medical aid cover is insufficient in meeting the Schengen visa criteria. In order to be granted this visa, the traveller has to have minimum medical aid coverage of EUR 30,000 (almost half a million rand) and the cover should not only be valid throughout the entire Schengen area (26 countries), but also extend to covering any expenses related to repatriation to South Africa for medical / health / emergency treatment, or death.
The benefits of your medical aid may also not cover the entire period (often limited to 90 days), or may not cover persons over the age of 70 at all, who are often deemed too high a risk. Seniors, then, would need to apply for additional senior cover.
Here is something else to think about:
With fluctuating exchange rates (not always in favour of the South African rand), the cost of medical care in some countries can be astronomical, and as tourists, we may not be entitled to the free healthcare offered by certain governments to their citizens.
What happens if we fall ill, or injure ourselves? What happens if we are assaulted, or find ourselves caught up in an act of terrorism? What happens when a natural disaster strikes? Or, at worst, what happens if we die? These are questions worth asking ourselves, to which travel insurance or vacation plans hold many of the answers.
People still want to travel – they just want a safety net.
People want freedom – they just want security.
Safety. Security. Peace of mind.
When we, as travellers, know what we’re buying and why we’re buying it, travel insurance becomes a product that pretty much sells itself.
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