When to take out travel insuranceYou should take out travel insurance as soon as you book with us, just in case you have to cancel your trip for any reason. We have come across a few policies which must be taken out within a few weeks of your deposit payment for your trip.
Medical cover on travel insuranceEmergency medical cover is the most vital element of your travel insurance. If you suffer an injury, medical costs can start to stack up quickly, especially if an emergency medical evacuation is required.
Some policies offer very basic cover with low maximum limits: these should be avoided. In the case of a serious medical emergency in a remote location, you need to be confident that your insurance will cover all the costs for your evacuation and care.
It is hard to know how much cover you need. As a guide, the UK's independent consumer watchdog, Which?, recommends a minimum cover level of £5,000,000 for British travellers heading worldwide. They advise that in most cases this should be enough to cover emergency medical evacuation, any medical bills whilst in country and medical repatriation to your home country, if required.
Insuring the full cost of your tripSome insurance companies put a maximum cost limit on the value of trips which they will insure. In the UK this is typically around £5,000 per person. Many will offer extensions to cover the full value of trips for additional premiums.
So always check the value of trip which is covered by your policy: if you only insure a proportion of your trip, then some companies will refuse to pay out more than the equivalent proportion of your claim.
Finding your travel insuranceUnder regulations from the UK's FSA (Financial Services Authority), we are not allowed to make any specific policy recommendations for your insurance, as these depend on your circumstances.
Obviously, there is a vast array of providers and policies available. So we'd urge all of our travellers to take time to do their own research to choose the best possible policy for their own needs.
We do note that many insurance companies around the world only offer travel cover for residents of their own country. So although we cannot recommend any policies, below are some suggestions for companies to contact so that you can start your own research.
For our British travellersWhich?, the independent UK charity which acts as a champion for consumers, surveys the market and recommends a number of insurance companies. Below are the top-scoring travel insurance companies, as of April 2019.
- Holiday Safe
- LV Travel Insurance
- Saga - especially for travellers over the age of 50).
For our North American travellersBelow are a couple of insurance companies, based in North America, which have assisted our travellers in the past.
guidance page for Expert Africa's travellers. Their USD100,000 medical cover is less than we recommend to European-based travellers, but we're told that it's relatively high compared with the level of medical cover provided by most US insurers. At time of writing, we believe that this policy includes adventure sports, but do check all the details for yourself. We're also told that travel to southern Africa from North America is regarded by US under-writers as relatively low-risk. Hence these premiums are lower than similar insurances which cover world-wide travel. So although we don't have personal experience of this policy - and we cannot "recommend" this, or any other insurance product - we believe that this policy is well worth investigating. If you have questions about this policy, then email joel@SafariSamaritan.com.
Other countriesWe do know of a company called Global Voyager who claim to insure on an "anywhere to anywhere" basis. They may well be worth investigating if you can't easily find an insurance company based in your home country.
Travel Insurance & COVID-19 outbreakThe epidemic of coronavirus has put insurers, as well as much of the rest of the world, under great strain.
Travellers who are insured in the UK should know that on 17 March, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) issued a statement noting:
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised against all but essential travel for 30 days from 17 March 2020. This unprecedented step actually provides welcome clarity for customers and the industry. Generally, insurance cancellation or travel disruption will relate to FCO advice. This decision will, therefore, allow many (or ''the majority of'') policyholders with cancellation or travel disruption cover in place to claim for cancelled trips that were already booked and cannot now go ahead.
This was subsequently included under the "Travel Insurance" section on their Coronavirus Information Hub.
Our clear understanding of this is that UK travellers with good cancellation or travel disruption insurance cover should be able to recover monies paid for their trip from their insurer, provided that their departure date falls during the period that the FCO has advised against leaving the UK.
In late March we know that claims are certainly being paid by some insurance companies. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that to have a successful claim, you will need to:
- Document all of your communications with your insurers in writing and keep copies.
- Make a full, formal claim to your insurers in writing, carefully following all of their claims procedure.
- Let your insurer know that you are fully aware of the statement by the ABI, above
- If your claim is rejected, insist on a written explanation of why it was rejected
- If necessary, be prepared to follow this up with the Financial Ombudsman.
Covid-19 coverTravel insurance providers are increasingly including cover of various forms against Covid-19. As international travel returns, we expect all major travel insurers will include Covid-19 cover in their policies.
The cover may include medical cover in the event you are infected and cover against disruption to your trip caused by travel advice, travel bans and quarantine requirements relating to Covid-19. The following companies are worth contacting. As noted above, while we are happy to pass on this information and we hope it is useful, Expert Africa does not endorse or specifically recommend any of the products sold by any insurers.
Currently two companies that are definitely worth consideration, and who will quote online for specific destinations, are:
- battleface has cover for both Covid cases and for travelling against the UK FCDO's advice.
- Seven Corners a US-based company which offers cover to travellers from around the world, their Liaison Travel Plus cover doesn't exclude countries with an FCDO warning, or Covid claims.