SA school holidays: Parents urged to do checks and balances before heading abroad

2016-06-24 08:35 - Selene Brophy
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Cape Town - It's the school holidays and many a parent will be seizing the opportunity to head abroad.

If this is you, it is essential that you make sure you have checked all your necessary documentation. While the Department of Home Affairs has amended its international travel requirements for minors’ unabridged birth certificates, South African children and parents are still required to have the full version of the document when travelling abroad.

While South Africa has two versions of the birth certificate, an abridged (issued for newborns up until 2013) and an unabridged birth certificate detailing both parents details (issued to all newborns since 2014) - this requirement has not been scrapped, since all parents need to apply for it when registering their babies, the department says, despite the new passport for children currently being rolled out as the preferred travel document. 

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When only one parent is travelling with the child, or parents are divorced or separated as well as in the case of unaccompanied travelling minor - specific documentation - already submitted for the necessary visa applications - needs to be taken along to be shown as proof when travelling. 

Added to this, the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation advises that in some instances, medical treatment can be withheld by a foreign country if a person has no proof of funds or travel Insurance. This calls for a proper review of all your travel documents and requirements.

Annelie Smith, Corporate Executive at RBS - independent insurance and risk specialists says that with the current Rand exchange rate, travellers may be tempted to cut costs as they search for the best deals.

"Opting for a policy that covers the minimum requirement for the purpose of obtaining a visa permit could however leave the travellers inadequately insured,” says Smith.

"One element that must not be compromised is health insurance, as unexpected medical expenses can financially cripple travellers if they are caught unprepared."

She points to a 2013 study conducted among 20 countries by global insurance provider, AXA, which indicated that the average estimated costs for the three most common health claims including ear infection, gastroenteritis or a broken bone is between R73 000 to R300 000. 

Apart from medical costs, consumers also need to ascertain if they will require political or natural disaster evacuation cover should there be a political uprising or a hurricane.

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“With over 15 terrorist attacks taking place globally in 2016 alone, these attacks are among the threats that face international travellers nowadays. Political or natural evacuation cover can ensure that the cost of early evacuation for the insured parties is taken care of in the event of a terrorist attack, political uprising or natural disaster.”

It is thus important for travellers to consider the destination and the risks attached to this area carefully, in order to determine which types of cover will be necessary, explains Smith. 

“People tend to ‘switch-off’ during the holiday season and details, such as adequate insurance, could fall by the wayside. During a well-deserved holiday, the last thing one expects is an accident or a political disaster, but these things can happen and if they do it is best to be prepared.” 

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