For some, the end-of-year holiday season is the perfect time to escape on a well-deserved holiday to a destination abroad. However, many people who travel overseas are still not taking the appropriate measures to manage their risks when travelling to a foreign country.
This is according to Magcino Gule, Senior Manager for Travelsure at Old Mutual Insure, who says that travel risks are increasing year-on-year, making it increasingly important that leisure travellers take the necessary precautions and protect themselves with adequate travel insurance when they go on holiday.
“High-profile events such as natural disasters, terror attacks and medical crises are on the rise worldwide, which means that travel risk management, an important but often overlooked precaution, needs to become more of a priority for people touring abroad.”
Gule states that it is crucial to look at the risks that you and your family may face while travelling and to find a travel insurance product to cover every eventuality. “It is very common for flights to be cancelled due to unexpected events related to political instability or natural disasters. This alone can cost a stranded tourist in a foreign country tens of thousands of rands, let alone in the event that someone needs medical attention or evacuation. Furthermore, every year thousands of flights are either delayed or cancelled due to snowstorms in the Northern Hemisphere, this is most often during the holiday season.”
She adds that in addition to those that opt not to buy any travel insurance at all, there are also many instances where tourists don’t have the right insurance product for their needs.
Here are some of her tips:
The number of individuals covered under a policy: If you are travelling with your family, the first thing that you should establish is whether the policy will cover every family member travelling with you. Equally important is to make sure that every family member is covered for full medical care.
The added services: Added services can make a huge difference following an unforeseen event. An insurance package that offers value-adds such as telephonic medical advice, foreign translation services in medical emergencies and delivery of essential medicine if your luggage is lost, should be at the top of your list. These services come in handy when you need a painkiller for your headache, but don’t know how to communicate this in Mandarin or French.
Is my age being taken into account? With the number of senior tourists increasing each year, it is very 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.
Does the policy cover trip cancellation or curtailment? If you are stranded in a foreign country because your flights are cancelled, it is important to know that your insurance policy will cover the cost of a new ticket, and possibly accommodation during the unexpected extension of your tour. Equally important to take into account is that you could be forced to cut your trip short due to an emergency back home or some holiday-ending injury. Will your policy cover the additional costs involved in making the necessary arrangements?
Does the policy cover high-risk activities?
If you plan on doing something sporty or exciting such as skiing, bungee jumping or paragliding, it is crucial that you first 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, as a result of an injury.