Travel Insurance
Travel Insurance. Image source: Pixabay

As we usher in the fourth and final quarter of 2022, the countdown to the festive season break, just two months away, begins! For many South Africans holiday planning is already well-underway. Vacationers will be looking to take to the skies and travel abroad again after two years of restrictions due to the global pandemic.


The Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) reported a 48% recovery rate in passenger numbers for the financial year ending March 2022 after the near standstill effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.


Jason Veitch, Head of Travel Insurance at Travel Insurance Consultants (TIC) – a division of Santam Group says it’s encouraging to see a consistent uptick in air passenger numbers both locally and globally, as tourism is a major contributor to GDP and job creation. However, he warns that in the current global climate, holidaymakers simply cannot afford to travel without purchasing a comprehensive travel insurance policy.


“We’ve seen a fair amount of disruptions in the travel market post-Covid, and the war between Russia and the Ukraine has added to this. Airlines are struggling to commit to flight routes due to fuel shortages resulting in flight cancellations and missed connecting flights. Airlines will accommodate their passengers where possible, but this may not always suit the passenger’s itinerary,” says Veitch.


He adds that TIC’s post-Covid policy uptake seems to be mirroring the rise in passenger numbers after a significant number of travellers were caught without the correct travel insurance policies during the Covid pandemic, when the company experienced its highest influx of claims to date.


Veitch highlights medical claims as the most claimed benefit of a travel insurance policy, which accounted for 45% of claims submitted and 62% of the total cost of claims. The next most frequently claimed on the cover is luggage, both damage, and theft, at 28% of total claims. Medical and luggage cover are followed by cancellation, curtailment, or extension, which made up 14% of claims submitted to TIC. The remaining 13% of TIC claims were related to travel delay, luggage delay, death, and disablement.


There are three extremely important reasons for purchasing a travel insurance policy: “The first is the unaffordable cost of medical treatment abroad. TIC’s largest medical claim originally amounted to R38.5 million, virtually no South African would be able to pay this claim without the correct travel insurance policy being in place. The second reason is the potential loss of the enormous amount of money the policyholder commits to their travel budget should things go wrong, or a holiday be cancelled. And lastly, the low cost of a travel insurance policy in comparison to the potential expense of not having a comprehensive policy, is a no-brainer.”


Veitch offers South African travellers some advice on what to be aware of when purchasing a travel insurance policy:

  • Always consider the medical limits on the policy. If the limits are low, you should consider purchasing a top-up policy or a stand-alone policy, depending on the duration of travel, destination, age and whether you have pre-existing medical cover.

  • Never incur an expense, especially anything over R10 000, without confirming it with your travel insurance provider, or the appointed assistance company that you may do so. Travel insurance claims, especially medical claims, can very quickly escalate to exorbitant  sums of money due to South Africa’s weak currency.

  • Cancellation of your journey is covered if the reason for the cancellation is one of the stated conditions in the terms and conditions of the policy. Any event not listed in the terms and conditions of your policy is not covered. The perils where the policy will respond is when the airline cancels the flight due to strike, hijackings, riots, civil unrest or commotion.

  • A travel insurance policy will not pay out if a traveller has a disinclination to fly and misses their flight.

  • Know your policy: the terms and conditions, the benefits and the benefit limits.

  • It is more important than ever before to use a travel agent for all your travel arrangements.


In addition, he advises that as a result of the pandemic, many embassies are still heavily understaffed, and this is leading to long waiting times to obtain interviews and receive visas in time for planned trips. “As with flight cancellations due to the current insufficient supply of fuel, this is when a travel agent is the best person to advise you. Having a travel agent at hand will alleviate all the stress of rebooking travel arrangements and ensuring a successful travel experience.


“Everyone deserves to have a wonderful, stress-free travel experience and this is made more possible when the traveller plans properly and purchases the correct travel insurance policy,” concludes Veitch.