Travel Insurance

11 June 2015

Don’t leave home without it

Chocolate rabbits and nests full of marshmallow eggs on shop shelves let us know that Easter is just around the corner. This also means school is out with a possible holiday on the horizon. While we are all born optimists and believe that nothing will go wrong with our trip, the only thing worse than having your travel arrangements not going to plan is not having travel insurance to cover the unexpected  expenses.

Many people skimp on travel insurance believing that the chances of anything going wrong are minimal and the fact is, most holidays do go off without any major incidents. However, if chance and fate conspire against you, the cost of a good night out can cover yourself and your family for a vast array of calamities both locally and abroad.

It is a well-known fact that hospitals and medical services cost a small fortune overseas; especially with the current exchange rate. For instance, if you had a medical emergency in downtown New York, you may be presented with a one million rand medical bill. But travel insurance is not only for medical expenses. For example, in the event that you fly to the Bahamas and your luggage does not arrive, your travel insurance will cover you for up to R 3,500 depending on your card type or level of top-up travel insurance

You automatically get limited travel insurance when you use your MasterCard or Visa card to buy air tickets, but it does not cover every eventuality and there are applicable age limits. You need to read your policy document carefully to understand what it covers.

Tetiwe Jawuna, ‎Managing Director of Standard Bank Insurance Brokers says, “It is important to do your homework and look at the range of cover available. Travellers have different needs so we tailor-make policies to suit most eventualities. It is always wise to contact your insurance company or broker to confirm what cover is in place and if additional cover is required before traveling.”

For example, on some policies you’ll only be covered for 90 days of your trip. While this is fine if you are a holiday maker, a business person on a contract may require additional cover. If you’re not absolutely sure about how long or what you will need to be covered for, ask for the policy to be explained or for more information to be provided. In addition, if you are planning a trip overseas, check with your medical aid to see if you’re covered. If there are limitations, study this part of your travel insurance carefully. Depending on what credit card you have, you may only get up to R50 000 of your medical costs paid which is the equivalent to about a one night’s stay in a New York City hospital.

Ms Jawuna says, “At Standard Bank, we have consultants that can give you a full breakdown of what you will need. In addition, Standard Bank’s UCount Rewards programme offers individuals’ access to UCount Travel Mall. This is not only a cost effective and efficient way to book air tickets, car hire and accommodation but also allows users to link through to travel insurance options with ease.”

During this holiday season, Ms Jawuna advises travellers to keep more than one set of contact numbers for their bank, credit card company and travel agent. She also recommends that if you have more than one credit card they should be stored in separate places, as a security measure.

She concludes, “When deciding on how much travel insurance you need, remember that any medical care you receive in a foreign country will be paid for in a foreign currency. With the rand as weak as it is, that could cost a fortune, so invest in your financial security. ”


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