Travelling overseas? Travel insurance may be your best purchase

27 March 2014:

The AA advises on the benefits of travel insurance

According to Statistics SA the Easter period is one of the busiest inbound and outbound travel periods for South Africans. If your Easter break includes time out of the country, hopefully travel insurance has been ticked off your checklist. 

One of the most important elements to note when travelling overseas is travel insurance. “Travel insurance should be bought in conjunction with purchasing your air tickets. While cover for most of the benefits will only be activated from the date that you depart on your trip, cover for the possible cancellation of your journey starts from the date that you purchase your travel insurance policy,” said the Automobile Association of South Africa (AA). 

There are different kinds of travel insurance:  insurance for leisure travel (holidays), for youth travel (when travelling abroad for study or casual work purposes, 16 to 30 years), senior citizens (citizens over 70 years of age) travel and for business travel. Travel insurance is extremely important as many things can go wrong on a trip. You could be injured in an accident, fall ill and need medical attention, or even worse, require hospitalisation. This could become very expensive and depending on the treatment needed or the duration of the required treatment, costs could run to hundreds of thousands of Rands. In addition, you could lose personal items or have to cancel the whole trip, or part of the trip, due to illness. Travel insurance aims to cover these unforeseen circumstances.  

“There are however some limitations and conditions as travel insurance cannot cover absolutely everything that can go wrong, so be sure to read through the terms and conditions so you understand clearly what is and what is not covered,” the AA advised.  The maximum duration for cover on a leisure or youth policy is one year while business and senior cover is only provided for up to 92 days. The premium for travel insurance depends on the type of travel insurance and level of cover you select, as well as the duration of your journey. Costs could range from R360 for the most comprehensive policy covering a weeks’ travel, to around R940 for the most basic policy to cover a month long trip. 

All countries are covered, except where a travel warning has been issued by the US, UK or Australian governments, advising against all but essential travel. Travel warnings are issued to advise of security threats in specific countries. If a travel warning has been issued before a policy is bought and the warning is not lifted by the time the traveller visits the area, medical cover for injuries related to a security or terrorist incident will not be covered.

If however, a warning is issued after the policy is bought and a journey needs to be cancelled, the traveller can claim on the policy any non-refundable portions paid for the travel ticket and accommodation. If a warning is issued while the traveller is in the specific area, they will still be covered for medical emergencies, but must try and leave the area within seven days of the warning being issued.

“When looking for the right cover, check the limits of cover provided, for example under cancellation and loss of baggage, to ensure that should you need to submit a claim you will be adequately compensated for any loss that you may  incur. This will give you the peace of mind needed before and during your trip,” the AA concluded. 

Travel insurance can be purchased online from the Automobile Association of South Africa’s website. Simply go to travel pages, travel insurance, and click the “Buy online now” link.  If you need any assistance through this process, contact the AA Travel Insurance call centre on 0861 900 801 for assistance.

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