Although your credit card may offer automatic travel insurance, it is advisable to get a more comprehensive cover, especially when travelling to Africa. Some of the major cities in Africa, such as Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town in South Africa offer all the facilities of a first world country. However many of the smaller and undeveloped African countries, particularly those found in West and North Africa, don’t offer these facilities. This means that trying to find a decent bank, hospital or lawyer in one of these rural areas may be virtually impossible and extremely expensive without travel insurance.
A decent travel insurance will ensure that you and your family can make use of the top, private hospitals in Africa should a medical emergency occur. The private hospitals in Africa are very expensive, and your local medical aid probably would not cover treatment at one of these facilities should you require it. If you can’t afford the unforeseen cost of medical care, you could end up at a rural hospital with inadequate facilities where you would have to wait in long queues, perhaps even for days on end, to receive treatment. Travel insurance also helps to rest the mind when travelling to rural African destinations where diseases can be prevalent. Be sure to get any vaccines/preventative medication recommended by your travel insurance before travelling. Without malaria prophylactics or a yellow fever certificate you may find that your travel insurance won’t cover you, so be sure to read the fine print of your policy carefully.
A comprehensive cover may also assist you should costs be incurred due to delayed/cancelled flights. Although weather does not often play a part in the cancellation of trips in Africa, due to minimal natural disasters, other factors like strikes and political protests are a more imminent concern. Just think if you booked a trip at the same time as the political unrest in Egypt – would you have been covered if you decided to cancel?
Travel insurance policies are tailored around a number of factors which determine the cost of the cover. These factors include age, any pre-existing medical conditions, what activities you plan to partake in while on vacation and the country you will be visiting. Some of the countries in Africa may be on the list of high-risk travel and so travel insurance costs can be high. Currently the countries with the highest risk include Libya in North Africa, Somalia in East Africa and Sudan in North Africa. Some travel insurance policies, particularly those for big companies and individual business travellers, even cover the event of kidnapping for ransom while on business in Africa.
If you are planning to book a tour, go on a volunteer safari or embark on an over-landing tour, many of the operators throughout Africa do insist that all traveller’s have travel insurance. Specific safari travel insurance is available and is specific to injuries/losses caused by dangerous wildlife and bad roads. This type of cover also offers a more comprehensive medical evacuation cover as often the best safari accommodation options are found in remote areas.
Many traveller’s are weary about embarking to Africa due to assumptions regarding safety and security and health and medical care in the area. Although most of these rumours are just rumours, in some areas these may be real and justified concerns. However by investing in comprehensive travel insurance you can rest easy that you’re covered during, what should be, a magical time in Africa.