What is travel insurance and why do we need it?

Travel insurance seldom receives the attention of the ordinary citizen. It is only those fortunate ones who travel frequently and who have experienced the frustration of delays, trip cancellations etc who are well aware of the perils of not having travel insurance.

For some the first time that they consider travel insurance is when they go on honeymoon – a time when insuring against financial trauma is not exactly what they have on their minds…

Description of Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is best described as a financial product to assist travellers and to cover medical expenses and financial and other losses incurred while travelling, either within one’s own country, or internationally. Travel insurance usually provides cover for emergency evacuation, personal accidents, trip cancellation, baggage loss and various other benefits.

Where do I find Travel Insurance?

Many travellers might be unaware that they already enjoy some travel insurance from the moment that they purchase their tickets for travel by air, bus or train.

Many banks and credit card companies provide free travel insurance when you use your credit card to pay in full for your air, bus or train ticket. This cover applies between the ages of three months and 75 or 76 years old (depending on the bank that provides your credit card). This “automatic cover” may not meet every aspect of your travel insurance needs, and additional cover is available at preferential rates to provide you and your family with more financial protection and peace of mind every time you travel.

Travel agents and insurance companies also offer travel insurance cover, and premiums differ according to age, duration of travel, destination and other factors.

Temporary travel insurance can usually be arranged at the time when booking a trip to cover exactly the duration of that trip, or a more extensive, continuous insurance can be purchased from travel insurance companies, travel agents or directly from travel suppliers such as cruise lines or tour operators.

Why do I need Travel Insurance?

We can only reflect on the news of the day to realize why it is important to have travel insurance. We do not need a tsunami or earthquake to remind us of sudden unforeseen events and forces of nature that could affect our travel plans.

During the past 2 months we have witnessed severe snow storms across the US and Europe while flooding in Australia and Brazil has left hundreds of thousands stranded. Violence and political unrest have stranded hundreds of South Africans in Egypt

We need to recognize that travelling for business or pleasure always does involve some form of risk. None of us are able to fund just any emergency out of our own pockets. Most medical aids will not cover medical expenses abroad, which is why travel insurance cover is vital to avoid financial disaster.

Travel insurance addresses the gaps in health insurance coverage for travellers outside their home county and protects them from substantial losses that may result from any unforeseen circumstances such as lost baggage, medical emergencies, supplier defaults, cancelled trips etc.

Travel Insurance provides sense of security

Travel insurance will allow you to travel with a greater sense of security. It is every traveller’s nightmare to fall ill or become injured whilst in a foreign country. In a developing country, substandard medical care is a worry. In a First World country, the poor Rand-exchange rate may mean that a simple operation could cost you the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of Rands.

History has shown that emergencies may both be sudden and devastating! From relatively minor inconveniences such as stolen luggage and missed flights to life changing events such as a tsunami, serious accident or severe illness, travellers face many situations in foreign countries that could have potentially devastating consequences. Travellers risk being alone in a foreign country with unfamiliar customs, unable to speak the language and being exposed to sometimes appalling medical facilities.

Travellers should, before embarking on the foreign travels, enquire about the medical services their health insurance will cover overseas. If the health insurance policy provides coverage outside your country of origin, travellers should be advised to carry both the insurance policy identity card (as proof of insurance) and a claim form.

Travel insurance will not only provide cover for emergencies, but also for the most devastating of consequences –death! Travel insurance could pay for cremation, burial, the repatriation of your remains and a certain amount towards your coffin.

[We will continue our discussion on Travel insurance on Insurancechat.co.za and alert our travellers to some of the dangers in purchasing this insurance.]

Also view:

Travel Insurance and Safety for Travellers

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