By Wilma Bedford
With the gradual opening of international borders after the lockdown you are perhaps considering a holiday, provided the new rules regarding quarantine and your pocket allow you to. The price of your ticket and the associated travelling costs are tempting you to cut back on your travel insurance, but is it wise?
When should one take out insurance? Take it out for international travel. See your holiday as an investment and for that reason the associated finances should be protected by an insurance policy. A policy gives you financial security and travel assistance and protects you against contingencies, big financial expenditure such as medical costs, lost baggage, flight cancellation, boats that cannot berth, natural disasters and wars.
Most insurance companies had a fixed policy that they would consider pay-outs where something is unknown, unforeseen and unexpected. Covid-19 was already known and expected early in 2020 and therefore companies did not pay out claims, with many travellers left with big financial expenses.
There are companies that adapted their Covid19 travelling policies and it is therefore wise to scrutinise the fine print in this regard to make sure that the travel policy fits your needs and that you understand what is covered and what not.
Because Covid is probably going to be with us for some time yet, the general rule is that if you have reserved your ticket months in advance and provided you have a cancellation policy and contract Covid before you leave, the company will investigate your claim if you can produce official documented diagnosis as proof. If you contract Covid while travelling, your policy will cover your hospitalisation for Covid-19 treatment if you can produce the confirming documentation. However, the fine print states that if you do not contact your insurer for authorisation before you are admitted for treatment, your claim will either not be covered or a standard small amount will be paid.
Most insurers are not keen on providing cover for Covid, but some will do it on condition that your destination is not on the list for non-essential travel. Some insurers provide cover for extended stay for unforeseen reasons such as quarantine, but once more read the fine print.
If you buy your ticket by credit card, the bank also provides additional limited cover. Familiarise yourself with what the cover offers and supplement it with an additional policy for medical cancellation and lost-baggage cover.
Your policy will cover normal holiday activities but not professional sport or reckless activities such as rock-climbing, but you may ski and do scuba diving on condition that you are qualified and are accompanied by a licensed instructor.
If you want to visit America, it would be advisable to take out a policy explicitly for America and underwritten by an American company. You can get this beforehand or upon arrival at an airport, but you will be requested to show a Covid-19-free certificate.
Your airline may also offer Covid-19 cover that will cover hospitalisation and quarantine for 14 days provided that you fly within certain days.
It would be advisable to compare different policy covers for your requirements, to make sure what your bank and medical fund offer, and what their conditions are. At all times keep telephone numbers handy should you have to inform your insurance company of any emergency situation. Contact the embassy of your country of destination to make sure that you will be welcome and what their admission requirements are.
AMERICAN VISITOR INSURANCE
South African Government www.gov.za