Christelle Colman
About 515 398 South Africans travelled to destinations abroad last year and according to Statistics SA estimates this year will see even more people venturing outside of our country's borders on holiday.

With the mid-year school holidays upon us, many are taking time out to travel abroad.

It is vital for South Africans who are planning a trip to ensure that they have sufficient insurance.

Most people don't give too much thought to their travel insurance requirements and assume that the standard cover supplied by their credit card provider when purchasing their ticket will cover them when things go wrong.

Some of the most common occurrences that are most likely to ruin your holiday are flights being cancelled, missing your flight, lost or stolen passports, lost luggage, illness or injury and mix-ups with accommodation. Any such event can leave a holidaying family stranded in a foreign country and could cost them tens of thousands of rand.

A comprehensive travel insurance policy should include:

* Uninterrupted cover. For families who travel frequently, finding a provider that covers the entire family with uninterrupted cover under one policy and that does not require you to alert them to activate the policy before every trip is a huge benefit.

* Cover for the elderly. It’s important to know whether your age is being taken into account. Where many travel policies have an age limit of 65, there are specialised policies that provide cover for travellers who are well into their seventies or beyond.

* Trip cancellation or curtailment. If you are stranded in a foreign country because your flights are cancelled, it's important to know that your insurance policy will cover the cost of a new ticket, and possibly accommodation during the unexpected extended stay. It's also possible that you have to cut your trip short due to an emergency back home or a holiday-ending injury.

* High-risk activities. If you plan to do sporty, adrenalin-fuelled activities such as skiing, bungee jumping or paragliding, it's crucial that you find out whether your policy covers you in the event of injury. If not, find out whether there is an add-on that you can purchase to cover the extra risk and whether your insurer will assist you with your emergency evacuation and repatriate you back home if necessary.

* Business and leisure travel. Travellers often combine business with pleasure, tagging a holiday on to the end of a business trip. In cases such as these, there are travel insurers that offer both business and leisure travel cover under one policy.

* Value-added services. Added services can make a huge difference following an unforeseen event. An insurance package that offers value-adds such as medical advice by phone, foreign translation services in a medical emergency and delivery of essential medicine if your luggage is lost, should be at the top of your list.

* What to do in an emergency. You need to know what your travel insurer expects from you in an emergency. While calling a contact centre is often the furthest thing from your mind, knowing what is expected from you in the midst of an emergency is crucial, or you may find your insurer refusing to reimburse you for emergency expenses paid.

Christelle Colman is the managing director of Elite Risk Acceptances.

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