Travel Insurance Questions Image Safari Guru Deon

Travel Insurance Questions

Should I, or Shouldn't I; Travel Insurance?

Common Travel Insurance Questions

Should I take out travel insurance; is one of our most common Travel Insurance Questions? Yes, is the answer. In fact, it is often a requirement of booking safaris with African Safari Travel Specialists such as Safari Guru. It is our terms and conditions.

Our top travel insurance tip, is to ensure you take out a travel insurance policy from the day you book your safari so that it will cover you if anything goes wrong, even before the time of travel. 

The Policy

There are a huge number of insurance companies and covers available. Your dream safari may not come cheap – so it may still make sense to cover yourself and your travelling party for unforeseen issues, including (still) Covid. 

It sounds obvious, but when choosing a policy, do not just go on cost, look at the details and ensure it covers your needs, such as destination, your age and your intended activities.

We recommend checking which insurance policies and providers are rated highly by an independent consumer group in your home country, such as Which in the UK and Choice in Australia. A five-star policy will protect most travellers in situations such as lost bags, delays and cancellations, Covid issues, accidental damage, and more serious medical ailments. Check that it covers you if you lose your passport.

One tip we recently picked up was to ring the customer service number and check that you can quickly and easily speak with a person; this is a good indicator of the firm’s reliability.

Credit Card Travel Insurance

We’re often told that the traveller’s credit card offers insurance. First, it’s essential to establish what it meant by travel insurance. If your aim to get a refund if the trip is cancelled or goes wrong, then yes, typically, your credit card will cover you for the purchase. This may change according to the laws from which country the credit card is issued. Strict consumer laws bind credit card companies in the UK, Europe, and Australasia – this may not be the case within the state of the credit card provider in the USA.

But, aside from premium credit cards, credit card providers do not, typically, offer full travel insurance; they will not, for example, pay out for medical issues arising overseas or for lost luggage and personal liability. Usually, the “travel accident insurance” offered by credit cards is not as comprehensive as full medical cover offered through standalone travel insurance policies. Again, accident insurance covers accidental death or an accident resulting in permanent injuries such as loss of limb or sight, but less “serious” hospital treatment will not be covered. 

Covid

The Covid pandemic brought many things to the fore. Many of which were not pleasant, especially for travellers. One fact was the limitations of insurance. Insurance companies failed many travellers, safari specialists, and safari camp operators alike, and brought to the forefront of travel planning, many covid travel insurance questions. 

However, as Covid has become part of a new ‘normal,’ insurance companies have started to add ‘Covid Cover’ and what that means in their own “insurance world reality.”  Large insurers such as the British companies Direct Line and Churchill are now offering a more comprehensive “Covid Cover.” These provide your money back should the Covid rules change in your desired destination or if you, as a traveller, contract the virus (naturally, it being insurance, these still have their restrictions!). 

But you want to ensure you have an insurance policy that isn’t loaded with exclusions and restrictions, is decent, and will give you that refund.

Here are some more specific key Covid/safari insurance questions answered:

Insurance cover for travel to Safari Destinations in Africa

It is wise to check that your intended safari destination is not on your Government’s list of countries to which it advises against travel. So, for example, if you’re a British citizen taking out insurance from the UK, check that your destination is not on the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (the “FCDO”) “advises against all travel to.” 

While much that makes the news from Africa is bad, East and Southern African countries are generally far safer than your current home. Safari Guru does not arrange travel to countries where travel is not advised! So it is unlikely that this is the case, of course, times change – but we keep abreast of the news in our destinations.

Explaining further, Australia and the USA, like the UK, have a form/type of government body that promotes and protects that country’s values, citizens, and interests overseas. For example, the US equivalent of the FCDO is the US Department of State, and Australia has the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Each governmental body issues worldwide travel advisories, and the insurance-based in such country will typically align with its own governing body. But, while different countries’ interests may not always be the same, each of the Western government agencies typically issues the same advice to travellers from their own countries. 

However, if the FCDO issues a warning about a country while you are there, you should be covered as normal under the medical and personal accident sections of your policy, follow their latest advice. 

If your country of travel is on the “advise against all but essential travel,” this can affect the validity of your travel insurance. However, Safari Guru would typically cancel any trip if a situation arose in one of the destinations that put it on such a list. But for peace of mind – check the FCDO. It is typically the “go-to” first point for such advice.

How do I get insurance if the FCDO advises against travel to a country? Or, more likely, I’m undertaking a dangerous activity – such as climbing Kilimanjaro, sky-diving, or even scuba diving….

Some boutique insurers offer cover for many countries even when the FCDO advises against all but essential travel. These include Staysure, Campbell Irvine, and Battleface, but these policies will come with a premium.

Additional considerations? 

When purchasing the cover, you may ask for explicit reassurance that your intended destination country will be covered. Of course, remember that the country’s Covid status, FCDO advice, or both may change before you depart. No panic, but keep a watch on it.

What if I don’t want to take my trip? 

No insurance policy will cover your costs if you unilaterally cancel your holiday without good cause. This was true pre-Covid and remains true now post-Covid. Suppose you have a reason not to travel, check that it is listed in the policy; broadly, you will likely be covered by redundancy, death of a close family member, or serious illness. But, the reason must be in black and white, regardless of whether you believe you have a very reasonable cause not to travel.

What if I catch Covid before my holiday and can’t fly?

Covid-19 has brought a different dimension to the risks of having to cancel or change your holiday. There are obvious ones, such as contracting the disease before departure or testing positive, either if you are not vaccinated OR in Rwanda, which, at the time of writing, is the only destination where testing is still a requirement, regardless of being fully vaccinated. Some policies cover this but check your fine print as all are subject to strict definitions – some operators may also allow you to amend your trip if you are forced to isolate. 

What if I have to cancel due to a national or local lockdown?

Thankfully this risk is now receding. But airlines and tour operators had introduced flexible booking policies enabling travellers to postpone or rebook travel until a later date, regardless of Covid. In some cases, these are as late as the check-in opening just before a flight departs. This means that the financial consequences of the cancellation are much lower than they used to be, and this part of your insurance policy is less of a worry. Thankfully we are moving further away from this scenario. But, as we are now emerging from Covid, the bad news is that these restrictions are creeping back in…. so it is worth a check on this aspect of the policy.

What if I catch Covid-19 while abroad and need treatment and need to extend my stay?

You will want to know that you’re in safe hands. Safari Guru’s partners on the ground will look after you; ensure you are delivered to an excellent private treatment centre and can quarantine somewhere clean, pleasant, and comfortable. Most good travel insurance policies cover the cost of private treatment and medical repatriation, if necessary. However, ensure this is in place and book travel with reputable African Safari Travel Specialists, such as Safari Guru.

Cover the additional accommodation and travel costs if you are forced to extend because Covid-19 is less certain. Some policies cover you if you suffer a positive test and have to do this. The good news is that the requirement to self-isolate because of COVID exposure has gone – as this was a much greyer area. 

What will happen if I test positive for COVID on safari?

While every case is different, and will be handled differently; see COVID on Safari! Now What?

What if my safari operator or airline collapses?

When you pay your money to us, it is immediately held in trust and then handed over to our trusted partners on the ground. We only use reputable safari operators who have stood the test of time and survived COVID. This has not happened to one of our clients. In terms of airlines, some policies offer cover for this, though you may have to pay an extra premium. But the best protection is booking travel arrangements using a credit card; you may be charged a small additional amount by the airline or us – but it is worth it for the peace of mind and other benefits gained, such as points and cover! Again, in the UK and Australia, the bank or card issuer is liable under specific consumer laws if you lose money, in the unlikely event that the company you have paid with that card goes out of business.

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