Consumers who are considering international travel now that lockdown restrictions have eased and airlines activity increasing must ensure they are prepared for challenges they may encounter on their trips by securing the right travel insurance.
Most countries have lifted strict COVID-19 travel requirements such as having to quarantine on arrival in a foreign country, opening the way for South Africans who want to travel internationally. But the pandemic’s unexpected outbreaks in countries that seemingly had COVID-19 under control have shown it is better to be covered for changing your travel plan or flights than scrambling to find the means to cover these expenses.
Unforeseen events such as the Monkeypox outbreak reported in many countries do occur, and after limiting their activities over the last two years, some South Africans are looking forward to touring and visiting friends and relatives in foreign countries again.
Insurance cover options
When planning trips, you can find comfort in knowing that insurance providers like Standard Bank Insurance compensate travellers for the cancellation or cutting their trip short, for the non-refundable travel bookings and unused portions of their planned trips if they fall ill or sustain injuries, lose their travel documents or face a natural disaster at their destination. Travellers receive automatic medical cover for unexpected medical expenses up to R1 million when they purchase their air tickets or journey on a registered mode of transport with their Standard Bank Mastercard, Visa or Cheque cards.
Travellers who are planning the trips they have been dreaming of during the last two years must note there are now travel insurance options available. These options are for cancelling or cutting their journey short when a government places restrictions on travel or they need to change their travel plans. “This is additional, optional cover that is becoming increasingly popular as it covers eventualities that may occur that are typically excluded from standard cancellation cover,” says Linah Mabena, Head of Operation at Standard Bank Insurance.
Travellers who want to protect themselves against COVID-related and other changes to their plans, need to buy their additional cover options within 24 hours of making the first payment against their travel booking to ensure they are compensated against the cancellation benefit.
“The insured traveller will, for example, be able to claim against their policy when a government restricts all or any travel to and from South Africa,” says Mabena. “If a traveller falls ill prior to their insured journey and a medical practitioner deems them medically unfit to travel after buying their travel insurance policy, they will receive their cancellation benefit.”
Cover against COVID-19 related challenges
The travel industry has re-evaluated its cancellation policies during the pandemic, but this does not extend to trips that are not refundable and eventualities like testing positive for COVID-19. “The right insurance option will ensure that travellers don’t have to be concerned about getting medical care or being airlifted from remote travel destinations if they test positive for COVID-19 on a foreign holiday,” says Mabena.
COVID-related expenses that are covered under Standard Bank’s optional benefits include emergency medical and related expenses when travellers contract COVID-19 on an international journey. This includes medical evacuation, transport to medical centres, return travel to South Africa and the return travel of stranded children or travel companions. It also covers unfortunate needs like burial, cremation or the return of mortal remains.
“However, it is important to note that medical expenses do not include preventative or diagnostic treatment such as vaccines or COVID-19 tests. If a traveller tests positive for COVID-19 on their insured journey, the insurance will pay for the cost of the test and additional accommodation expenses for quarantine, if they are not hospitalised. It will also cover flight penalties if the traveller needs to change their public transport carrier ticket. These benefits extend to the spouse and children on the same insured journey, so if a traveller tests positive and needs to be quarantined, the insurance pays for them and their spouse and children to be quarantined with them.”
Mabena says Standard Bank advises South Africans who are travelling abroad to consider the financial implications of challenges they might face on their travels. “We are all aware of the rand exchange rate. Medical expenses abroad can be extremely high. It’s best to ensure a carefree journey by taking out the appropriate travel insurance prior to your journey.”
Standard Bank Travel Insurance offer a variety of travel plans that cater to a wide range of travel insurance requirements, ensuring that those with basic travel needs and discerning travellers can enjoy their long-awaited trips to the full.
All cover is subject to terms, conditions and exclusions as outlined in the policy wording. Cover only applies if it reflects on your schedule of benefits.
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