Cape Town – South Africans are renowned for being resilient and not usually deterred from their travel plans. However, in a world where no destination can be considered safe and the security profile of a destination can change unexpectedly, it helps to know what’s covered when you’re travelling.
Do you know who to call when the airline you booked goes out of business? Do you know what to do if disaster strikes? Are you prepared for the cost of an emergency evacuation or even a doctor’s visit overseas?
Travel insurance is certainly not a nice-to-have travel purchase, it is essential, says the Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA), but do you know what it covers?
SEE: What to do when your flight gets cancelled
1. Don’t let bad weather rain down on your holidays
Remember the disruptions caused by Mount Agung volcano in Bali recently? Or the hurricanes that have shaken the US?
Although your travel insurance won’t cover you if you want to cancel your trip, you would be covered if the airline needs to ground flights or if your accommodation has been damaged to an ‘uninhabitable’ extent as a result of weather conditions.
Most travel insurance companies, depending on their terms, will reimburse you the non-refundable portions of travel and/or accommodation arrangements, as well as any reasonable additional travel and accommodation expenses.
2. Going bust
If your international holiday is cancelled as a result of bankruptcy of the airline, hotel, ferry, Train Operator, Coach Operator, Car Hire or event Theme Parks you booked, your travel insurance should cover any losses.
It’s crucial that you do your homework though because your insurance will not cover you if there was a public warning 14 days before the purchase of your policy that the airline, hotel or other travel supplier would go out of business.
Unfortunately, travel agents, tour organisers, or booking agents might not be covered by your travel insurance. You should also know that if the airline or hotel forms part of a package tour booked, there might be no cover. So make sure you read the fine print ahead of time so you know what is covered and what not.
Members of ASATA comply with a code of conduct, constitution and charter which is aimed at safeguarding the interests of the travelling public. Remember, if you find a deal that sounds simply too good to be true, it more than likely is.
3. Strikes at the order of the day….
Mango, SAA and even SA Airlink… it seems airline workers are keen to share their discontent with the South African traveller lately. But, are you covered if your plans are disrupted by the airline workers’ strike action?
If you cannot get to your destination or you can’t get home from your trip as a result of the strike, your travel insurance will likely cover you. If you accrue financial losses as a result, those losses will be reimbursed by your travel insurance provider when you make a claim.
Not all travel insurance plans include coverage for airport strikes. In fact, it’s may be listed specifically as an exclusion, so you must verify the plan before you can count on having coverage for strikes that disrupt your travel plans!
Be sure that you purchase your travel insurance before the strike is announced! You simply can’t buy your travel insurance plan and expect to have coverage for striking airport workers after the strike is announced - that’s like trying to get homeowner’s insurance when your house is already on fire!
4. All’s not lost if your visa has been denied
You’ve booked your holidays and have all your documentation in order for your visa – including enough money in your bank account – and still your visa gets denied. What now?
Your travel insurance will reimburse you for the non-refundable portions of your holiday if your visa has been denied. They will unfortunately not pay for your visa application costs, nor will they pay if you haven’t provided all the required documents for your visa application to be successful, or if you applied late.
As South Africans, we are determined travellers who will go to great lengths to reach our destination and we are not perturbed by challenges that may get in our way but in the ever-changing conditions around the world, we can never be sure of what will happen.Travel insurance is not just a casual purchase but an essential part of travelling - here are four advantages and must-know points on travel insurance.
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