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Travelling overseas for the first time can be as daunting as it is thrilling, but remember that planning the perfect trip is about more than itineraries, logistics and shopping for the perfect beach outfit.
“Travel insurance protects you from a variety of unforeseen events, including lost luggage, medical emergencies, cancelled flights and unforeseen emergencies that would otherwise be very costly,” says Rakesh Raicar, Country Manager for Southern Africa and Indian Ocean Islands at Cathay Pacific. “Putting insurance at the top of your travel to-do list means that you’re protected if anything should go wrong, and you have access to the funds necessary to replace any loss.”
Raicar and Hong Kong based airline Cathay Pacific offer some advice for travellers planning their trips abroad.
Which bases are already covered?
You may not want – or need – every type of travel insurance that’s out there, so decide whether you want to insure against cancellation, medical or baggage loss, for example. Before you sign on the dotted line, ask your existing service providers if you’re already covered – for example, your medical aid scheme may cover you for a limited period abroad, and you may well already be covered for some elements if you paid for your flight with your credit card. Make sure that you understand exactly how much you are insured for, when your cover commences and ends, are there any upfront or co-payments, and how to claim back should you need to.
Choose your cover based on your adventure
Your itinerary has a lot to do with what type of insurance you’re going to take out. If you’re going on a sedate tour of museums in Europe, you’ll need different cover to the insurance required for a white-water rafting, paragliding, or skiing adventure. Whatever your journey, identify which of the following options is best for you:
- Package (Comprehensive travel insurance): Covers cancellations, interruption, weather incidents like hurricanes (If you are travelling to a high risk country), medical emergencies, evacuation, lost, stolen, and delayed baggage. This type of travel insurance is the most popular for families as it covers the full spectrum of insurance needs.
- Travel medical: Provides medical coverage when you are outside of your home country, and provides cover for medical emergencies, accidents, emergency evacuations, and repatriation. This type of insurance is ideal for long vacations and long-term work abroad.
- Annual: These policies are more common and cost effective as they provide a variety of coverage in one convenient plan for a year’s worth of travelling. This is the best model to consider for frequent flyers, business travellers or travellers taking more than two planned trips in a year.
- Single trip: Provides cover for the exact travel dates specified for cancellations, medical expenses, emergencies and luggage claims. This is ideal for the first time traveller who hasn’t planned another adventure.
In all the excitement of packing the perfect mix of casual, formal and adventure clothing, don’t forget to take care of your admin. Pack hard copies of your travel documents, including insurance policies, medical aid cover and ticket reference numbers in an easy-to-carry folder, as well as scanning them and saving them in a cloud service like DropBox that you can access anywhere in the world, should you lose your precious folder. It’s also worth leaving hard copies at home with someone you trust. Rather be over prepared than getting all flustered trying to get hold of your travel insurance provider in an emergency, and not having all the information you need.
“If you have a medical condition that requires you to carry needles with you on your travels, ensure that you have an authorised medical certificate stating this to avoid unnecessary questions from security officials,” Raicar adds. “Always carry a pen and paper with you especially for filling out documentation required to pass through customs and immigration when you land in a new country.”
Even though preparing the admin side of your journey may not be nearly as much fun as the rest of your planning, covering all the bases before you leave will help make sure that all your travel memories are the things that dreams are made of … and that you avoid all the possible nightmares!