Most people consider the standard travel insurance on their credit card to be sufficient, but when you travel frequently for work; your travel is normally booked via your company. So, should you consider specialist travel insurance? The answer is a resounding yes!
Simmy Micheli, manager of sales and marketing at Travel Insurance Consultants (TIC), says there are many benefits on a travel insurance policy. “The heartbeat of travel insurance is the medical cover where we pick up medical costs in foreign currencies. What seems to be a simple claim can quickly become complicated, racking up huge medical bills. For example, we had a recent claim in Switzerland where the client fell ill with pneumonia and passed away – the total claim amounted to R1.4 million,” she says.
TIC has seen higher claims in recent months. Micheli says about six months ago, a traveller on a business trip in Asia suffered a cerebral bleed while there and fell into a coma. She had to be brought back to SA but later passed away. The final cost of her claim was R4.4 million. In the last month, a young traveller in Canada was involved in a serious car accident and the claim amounted to a whopping R5.5 million.
The complimentary travel insurance offered by banks when you pay for your travel using your credit card is usually limited to some medical cover, accidental death and disability cover. The majority of travel insurance claims are related to medical costs, cancellation expenses and luggage losses. Micheli notes that when you compare different policies and benefits, it is important to check that you have cover for all three risks.
While these are the most common reasons for claims, travellers can sometimes find themselves falling victim to crime while in foreign countries. Gary Rattray was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time when he was violently mugged in Nairobi. “I was walking along a road between two milling factories when a man started shouting at me. He grabbed my laptop bag and tried to pull it away. When I resisted, he took out a gun and fired at my groin at point-blank range,” he says.
Gary was rushed to theatre for an emergency operation as the bullet had caused damage to his lower intestine and upper bladder. “The travel insurance representative was in daily contact with the doctors at the hospital and with my brother. I was in hospital for six weeks and underwent surgery on my hip. I can’t imagine the disaster I would have been facing if I wasn’t covered,” he says. He says the advantages of travel insurance went beyond the financial considerations but included travel insurance representatives who understand how hospital systems in other countries work as well as assistance with language and communication issues.
Use these top tips to ensure you get the best benefits out of your travel cover:
- You must purchase your travel insurance before you leave. However, you can extend your policy while travelling, on condition that you contact your travel insurer while the policy is still in effect.
- Find out what the exclusions are on your contract. Common exclusions include accidents that take place while you are participating in hazardous pursuits, speed or endurance activities; any injury resulting from your own negligence; self-harm; and illnesses or injuries sustained during illegal activities.
- Before you travel, find out what vaccines or shots you need to take. You may find that some vaccines may not be compulsory for you to enter another country but, for example, if you don’t take a malaria vaccine and you contract malaria, your travel insurance may exclude this. Simmy Micheli, manager of sales and marketing at TIC, says, for example, TIC, does not exclude benefits if a traveller has not taken their malaria medication. “This is an important question to ask because we have found that 50% of business travellers travel into Africa and other travel insurers do withhold benefits if malaria meds or vaccines are not taken.”
- If you lose your luggage, cash or any documents while travelling, you need to obtain a written police or airline report as soon as possible.
For more information and the best travel insurance quote, contact our business partner TIC.