Is travel insurance really worth it?

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Even the most incidental hiccup on trip can leave you out of pocket and probably much more than you’ve bargained for. For instance, catching a case of gastroenteritis can add up to R200 000 more to your trip.

Also, did you know that up to 70% of TIC’s claims processed is medical related, while 50% of claims are accident or injury related? This was one of the insights shared at a recent Travel Insurance Consultants Workshop (TIC), which also revealed the following:

Travel insurance: The need

If you were on the fence as to whether travel insurance holds any importance in your travel plans, consider some of the following startling claims processed recently:

  • USA: R6 000 000 – lung infection with complications
  • Canada: R5 500 000 – trampoline accident, head injury
  • USA: R4 900 000 – MVA, head injury
  • China: R3 300 000, pneumonia with complications
  • London: R3 000 000 – stroke leaving client comatosed
  • Tunisia: R1 400 000 – Abdominal shooting
  • Sierra Leone: R952 000 – Malaria
  • Ghana: R750 000 – stroke
  • Mauritius: R650 000 – slipped at pool, back injury
  • Belgium: R550 000 – fell down stairs, head and hand injury

For facts’ sake 

According to TIC statistics, within the South Africa market these are the most-frequent claims processed:

  • As mentioned, 70% of cost of claims is medical (50% of these accident or injury related), 12.5% is cancellation, 12% luggage
  • Diabetes is the most common pre-existing illness claim
  • Average cost of flu – UK – GBP300-500 per claim.
  • Food poisoning or gastroenteritis is the most common claim, costing between R5 000 and R200 000 per claim.

Where are we travelling to?

Besides our fluctuating rand, South Africans love to travel. According to TIC statistics the top continents visited for leisure and business travel are:

Leisure travel:

38% Europe

25% Africa

23% Asia

9% North America

5% Oceania

1% South America

Business travel:

57% Africa

23% Europe

8% Asia

6% North America

3% Oceania

2% South America

Traveller health risks

According to Dr. Albie de Frey of the Travel Doctor, the most-common health risks faced by travellers are those that you bite into, such as the food you eat while travelling or travelling in areas which may be lacking in sufficient hygiene and sanitary conditions, those that bite into you such as malaria, yellow fever, HIV/AIDS, and those that hit you, such as car accidents and acts of violence.

Dr. De Frey also provides the following health advice:

  • Book an appointment with a travel doctor or travel clinic each time you travel.
  • Ensure your routine and recommended vaccines are up to date.
  • Always carry your travellers’ medical kit.
  • Take out travel insurance and remember to check the terms and conditions closely.
  • Don’t pat or approach any local animals as they may be carrying rabies.
  • Eat and drink safely. Boil it, peel it, cook it… or forget it!
  • Keep hands clean with soap and water or hand sanitiser gel, particularly after using the toilet and before eating.
  • Observe and respect local laws and customs. Always dress and behave appropriately.
  • Follow the medication guide in this book, as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before going outdoors and reapply as directed or required. Sunscreen is normally applied before repellent.
  • Avoid mosquitoes, flies and other biting insects. Apply Repel spray or roll-on insect repellent just before you step outside in the morning and as required, according to the formulation’s strength. Ensure you are covered at peak mosquito feeding times of dawn and dusk.