08 October 2007

Travel insurance

It's a traveller's nightmare to fall ill in a foreign country. In the developing world, substandard care is a worry; in the first world, the medical costs could cripple you.

It must be 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 hundreds of thousands of Rands. Most medical aids will not cover medical expenses abroad, which is why travel insurance cover is vital to avoid financial disaster.

What it gives you
Travel insurance usually provides cover for medical expenses, emergency evacuation (which could cost up to R500 000), personal accidents, trip cancellation, baggage loss and various other benefits.

Many banks offer free travel insurance on services such as credit cards. More cover is usually available for an extra amount.

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

Exclusions can occur, when for instance a person with a pre-existing medical condition travels. These people can still obtain insurance cover, but usually not for any medical expenses relating to their condition.

Dental work is also usually excluded, so it important to get a dental check-up or have any necessary dental work done before travelling.

Reading the fine print
It is essential to understand the conditions for claiming travel insurance, in case the policy requires pre-authorisation for any treatments or only allows treatment at prescribed medical facilities.

Carry the 24-hour emergency telephone number when travelling and phone this number in case of illness or injury for advice on what to do.

Some hospitals require a cash deposit up-front – find out whether the insurance will reimburse you or whether they make arrangement to save you having to come up with large amounts of foreign currency. – (Health24)

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