There’s nothing quite like zipping up your bags, making your way through the hustle and bustle of the airport and jetting off on a new travel adventure. For the most part, travelling is an exciting time to discover foreign places and make new memories. However a sudden illness, serious injury or your luggage going AWOL could also turn out to be pretty memorable - for all the wrong reasons!
If you’re planning a trip outside the borders of South Africa (even to neighbouring countries of South Africa), take note of these important travel tips from Chubb Travel Insurance to help protect you from any mishaps that could leave a serious dent in your finances and emotions:
- Take care of medical expenses with travel insurance - No-one likes to consider the worst-case scenario, but serious injuries and illnesses when travelling abroad may lead to the need for emergency medical treatment and possibly medical evacuation. The associated medical costs can rapidly run into millions of Rand, especially in countries with high healthcare costs such as the US, Europe or certain Far East countries. For example, surgical treatment of a broken arm in the US can cost anywhere from $16,000 or more. To ensure these costs can be paid upfront and won’t be added to your travel budget, it is essential to have travel insurance in place that will cover any medical emergencies and provide you with the support and on-the-ground assistance you need in a time of crisis.
- Don’t assume your medical aid will cover you - It’s very important to check what level of cover your medical aid provides when travelling, if any, as not all medical schemes provide cover outside the borders of South Africa. In some cases specific limits and exclusions subject to the local conditions of your cover will apply, so it’s important to understand what these limits and exclusions are and whether it is necessary to take additional travel insurance to cover any shortfalls. You may think that R1million sounds like a reasonable amount of cover, but when you consider the Rand/Dollar or Pound Sterling exchange rate; in a medical emergency that amount is quickly exhausted. Likewise, it is important to also check the limits and exclusions offered by credit card providers to ensure sufficient coverage limits.
- Read the fine print – When deciding which product is best for you it’s always best to read the small print to make sure you’re getting the right cover at the right price. Some of the more important covers you should consider include:
- Unlimited emergency medical expenses with added benefits such as 24/7 medical assistance and advice so that in the event of a medical emergency you have access to on-the-ground support and advice when you need it the most.
- Emergency repatriation so that in the event of a medical emergency or a political or natural disaster, you can be airlifted to safety.
- Going on an ‘adventure’ holiday – if you’re heading off for something a little more adventurous, you may need additional travel insurance add-ons for the likes of skiing, scuba diving, and even for those momentous hole-in-one golf experiences.
- Understand the local political, social situations and travel requirements of your destination - do some homework on the destinations you are visiting and check out the requirements for visiting a country by registering your trip via www.red24.com/Chubbsa or call +27  21 700 3820.
- Protect your vital travel documents and cash- Take all necessary precautions to safeguard your passport and other ID documents, travel tickets, money, credit cards and insurance documents. Avoid carrying these items together, as a loss or theft could leave you entirely without any identification and funds. Leave copies of your documentation and itinerary with someone at home to be safe. Many hotels also have a locked safe in which you can keep passports. If money and valuables are stolen, you will need to report it at the local police station. Ensure that your passport is in good condition - lamination is intact, pages are not torn or missing and the dates are valid for at least a few weeks after your planned return. A passport that appears to have been tampered with could cause you a great deal of inconvenience, including refusal of entry at a foreign airport. The added benefit of taking out travel insurance is that in the event of your travel documents being lost or stolen, assistance can be provided by directing you to the nearest embassy or consulate or getting in touch with your bank is you require a replacement card.
- Take care of finances - Get your foreign currency before you get to your destination, as this will often give you the most value for money. When you do exchange, try to take a mixture of currency and travellers’ cheques with you. To keep your travel money safe, it’s worth carrying a waist bag or pouch underneath your clothes and in front of your body - never carry your cash or documents in a backpack or where you cannot see it. Keep some money separate and within easy access to avoid drawing attention to yourself. Make sure you have sufficient funds to last you during your stay. If you are planning to rely on your debit or credit card for some of your holiday funds, it is a good idea to let the issuer know you are travelling and check that the cards will work in the country in question. Some countries require you to prove your financial means for supporting you and your family while visiting.
- Medication - Carry your medication in your hand luggage as your check-in bags could be delayed or lost, and make sure you have sufficient medication to last for the duration of your trip. Visit your doctor before you travel to do your basic health checks and find out if you need any vaccinations before heading for your destination. It’s generally a good idea to also keep any documentation or prescriptions with you for any medication you travel with. This can help avoid unnecessary hassles and difficulty.
For absolute peace of mind while travelling, do your homework and ensure that you take out the very best cover you can find at a price point that fits your budget. With all your preparations done and the important checks in place, a happy and memorable trip for all the very best reasons is what you can look forward to.