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How to compare and buy travel insurance

Alice Lombard

Author: Alice Lombard - 30 January 2024

Last Update: 17 September 2012

Part of the Holiday Safaris In Southern Africa & Travel To East Africa & African Safari Collection

In a time when travellers are paying higher ticket costs and baggage fees, adding travel insurance onto the cost of a trip can seem like just another expense. The truth is that travel insurance is very inexpensive for the protection and assistance you get with it.

Benefits of obtaining travel insurance

#1 You won’t lose your trip investment

No traveller can predict exactly what will happen between now and when they return home. If someone gets sick, a parent dies, a traffic accident happens, or any of a number of things occur, you could have to cough up loads of money. With the right travel insurance plan, you’ll be reimbursed for your pre-paid non-refundable trip costs if you have to cancel your trip before leaving or abandon your trip and return home.

The following are just a few reasons travellers have to cancel or interrupt their trips:

  • Injury or illness of you, a travelling partner or a family member.
  • Bad weather or natural disasters that destroy your destination accommodation or your house back home.
  • Traffic accidents that occur en route to your scheduled departure.
  • Work or schedule conflicts including work transfers, court summons, terminations, or work schedule changes.
  • Labour strikes and financial default that disrupt flights and leave travellers stranded.
  • Terrorist attacks and mandatory evacuations. With adequate travel insurance, if you experience a situation that requires you to cancel your trip prior to departure or abandon your trip and return home post-departure, you’ll be reimbursed for all of the unused trip expenses you insured.

#2 You won’t have to pay for unexpected medical care

We’ve all read stories of travellers who were injured or got sick while travelling. When a traveller is in a foreign country, their health insurance from back home doesn’t usually extend to paying foreign hospitals and doctors.

If you, or someone travelling with you, gets sick or injured and needs medical care while you’re travelling, your travel insurance provider will help you find emergency transportation and local medical care. In most cases, they can arrange for payment to be made directly to the medical providers too. They also have experts on hand who can provide translation services if you are unfamiliar with the local language.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition, your travel insurance assistance service team can work with your doctors back home and help coordinate your care. In addition, they’ll inform your family and business associates of your condition while keeping track of your progress.

#3 You can be evacuated out of danger

There are many reasons that travellers have to be evacuated: to escape terrorist attacks, impending hurricanes, or when they are so badly injured that local medical care can’t provide adequate treatment.

A travel insurance plan with medical evacuation coverage helps a traveller by arranging and paying for safe transportation to a medical facility that can treat their condition. In addition, this coverage typically pays to bring a family member or friend to the traveller’s bedside as well as transporting you back home when your recovery is stabilised.

If the worst should happen and you die on your trip, this coverage also provides money and co-ordination for repatriation – that is, the proper return of your body to your home. In some cases, repatriation can take tens of thousands of dollars and leave family members struggling to negotiate complicated transportation regulations through their grief. An adequate travel insurance plan can save your family from all that.

#4 You can buy travel insurance for special circumstances

Travellers with special circumstances often think they can’t get travel insurance, but it’s not true. Travellers can get coverage for all kinds of special situations and activities, including:

  • Coverage for travellers with pre-existing medical conditions.
  • Coverage for travellers who like to go rock climbing, diving, hang-gliding, white-water rafting etc.
  • Coverage for travellers with young children (even grandchildren)
  • Coverage for travellers headed to unsafe areas of the world. For just a little extra money, travellers with different needs can get adequate travel insurance.

#5 Other benefits of travel insurance

Many travel insurance plans include additional benefits that include:

  • Assistance recovering from lost or stolen passports and identity theft.
  • Help with missed connections and travel delays.
  • Coverage for car rentals and roadside assistance.
  • Assistance when your baggage is lost, stolen or delayed.
  • Accidental death and dismemberment and flight accident benefits.
  • Concierge and business assistance services. Not every plan includes all of these and every plan will have different levels of coverage and limits.

Now that you realise how important and simply travel insurance is, you can now visit the best places in Africa without a care in the world.

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