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Make sure your travel insurance is in order before you get on that plane

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Make sure your travel insurance is in order before you get on that plane

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Travel – whether for business or leisure or both (bleisure?) – can be extremely exciting. But it comes with its own set of risks. According to short-term insurer, Travel Insurance Consultants (TIC), a division of Santam, it is wise to prepare for the unexpected by getting travel insurance before your trip and understanding exactly what you are protected against so that you have enough cover for any eventuality.   Some of the other most claimed for travel events are pre-existing medical expenses, cancellation of journey, luggage loss and travel delays.

TIC suggests looking at the following aspects of travel insurance before hopping on that plane.


  1. With complimentary travel insurance, you are not necessarily covered for everything

There is a common misperception that the travel insurance offered as a free benefit by your credit card is adequate to cover any medical emergency you might have while travelling. Free travel insurance sounds good, however, this complimentary travel insurance cover has quite a few limitations. The product mostly provides for a limited amount of medical expenses, with limited cover for other losses such as damaged or lost luggage.

In the case of free travel insurance through a credit card, it is important to remember that the amount of cover you have is linked to the type of credit card you have. There are other losses that the insurance on a credit card may or may not cover you for, such as pre-existing medical illness. For example, if you have diabetes and have an incident linked to diabetes such an incident might not be covered by your complimentary travel insurance. It is vital for anyone with a pre-existing medical condition to be adequately covered when travelling.

This is but one example of where credit card insurance does fall short. Others include the low level of cover for medical incidences and accidents, no or low luggage cover limits, no cover in the event you need to cancel your entire holiday and cover for sporting activities.

So, before you get on that plane make the calls, ask the questions to make sure you know, upfront, exactly what you’re covered for and get the right travel insurance cover suitable for your needs.


  1. Free travel insurance on your medical aid cover

Free travel insurance attached to your medical aid cover also sounds great, but again it is critical that you look carefully at how it is structured.

Some medical aid travel insurance will pay out at South African medical aid rates. This may be adequate in some parts of the world, but in countries like the USA or France, where medical costs can be up to 15 or 20 times higher than South African ones, this is not going to be enough. Extra travel insurance can help avert an extremely expensive situation.


  1. Business trip? Are the ‘bleisure’ days also covered?

Often business trips have a day or two of leisure tacked on to them. If the trip has been insured by the company, it is important to investigate whether the days of leisure are also covered by the policy for the trip.

Often a family member may join you and, in that case, they will need to take out their own travel insurance policy as they will not be covered by the one taken out for you by your company. The onus should be on the travelers to investigate the insurance offered by their employer to ensure that all aspects of the trip are covered for all parties travelling.


  1. Corporates: know the health of your employees

With medical preconditions excluded by many insurance policies – unless declared – it is vital that employees travelling are open and honest with their employers about any such conditions.

It is vital that corporates not shirk responsibility in this regard. Employees need to make sure that they have frank conversations about declaring medical preconditions with employers before they travel. If something does happen connected to an undeclared medical condition, it can end up being extremely costly, and it may result in the expenses not being paid by the insurer. Transparency is vital – and so is ensuring an insurance policy that covers the precondition is in place.


  1. Travelling in high risk areas: make sure kidnapping/ransom and malaria are well covered

When travelling to high risk areas, the necessity for travel insurance is even more important. In countries where malaria is prevalent, both preventative treatment and extremely good medical cover are vital. In Africa, this is particularly important, as the preventative programs that have previously been implemented in various African countries to reduce malaria have been curtailed, which means incidences of malaria are now increasing at an alarming rate.

And some countries in Africa and the Middle East have heightened kidnapping and ransom risks, so cover for these is vital. And making every attempt to remain trackable via tech when you are in these countries is also a very good idea.

  1. Leisure trip?: Check that your insurance includes cover for the activities that you will be undertaking on your journey

Be aware of the list of activities that insurers automatically include in your policy. A good policy should include skiing and scuba diving (provided the diver is licenced or accompanied by a licenced instructor) as well as leisure and most competitive sporting events.  Pay attention to the exclusions so you can compare different insurers’ offering and know when to top up. These could include rugby, boxing or cage fighting incidents, for example, which require special insurance extensions. Hunting, sky diving, parachuting and horse racing for instance, are excluded entirely – most insurers won’t pay for claims arising from such sports and activities.


For more information speak to your broker or visit


Santam is an authorised financial services provider (licence number 3416).

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