What to Look For When Choosing Travel Insurance for a Safari

POSTED ON 13th April 2016 BY

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When it comes to an African safari, you’re going to want to get the most out of your experience.

This means getting up close with wildlife, being out in nature, and spending time exploring the African savannah. But when planning which country you’d like to visit and what animals should be on your must-see list, there’s another important step that you should take into consideration as well: travel insurance.

While travel insurance may be a bit less glamorous than the other aspects of your journey, it’s just as important. So, if you’re planning an African safari, here are a few things that you should ask yourself when looking into travel insurance, to ensure that you choose a policy that will give you the coverage that you need.

 

Why Should I Care About Insurance?

No matter how careful you plan to be, the fact is that any time you travel it’s important to take out a travel insurance policy. This is especially the case when you’re embarking on a journey to another continent.

While safari destinations are remarkably safe, things can happen abroad, just like they do at home. The main difference though, is that when you’re in a different country, it can be more difficult to arrange care, treatment, and solutions should something go awry.

Having a good travel insurance policy will not only provide you with the coverage that you need in case of the unexpected, but it will also give you peace of mind, allowing you to relax and enjoy your trip to the fullest.

Before you choose an insurance policy though, it’s important to recognise that not all travel insurance is created equal. African safaris vary drastically, and you’ll need a policy that will provide you with the type of insurance that you need for your journey; and the right amount of coverage as well.

Travel Insurance Importance

 

What Are The Risks?

Before you head off on your adventure, make sure you understand the risks that are involved. While it’s unlikely that anything will happen, in case something should go wrong, travel insurance can be a lifesaver.

For traveller and writer Nina Zara, this proved to be true. Shortly after arriving in Africa, she fell ill, and ended up needing to return home. Her cost of treatment and plane ticket home came in at €600.00, or about £474.00 at the time. Fortunately though, her travel insurance covered all of her expenses with the hospital and lab bills in Africa, and even her flight ticket home.

Of course, it’s unlikely that you’ll have anything as tragic happen, it’s still important to understand the risks and mitigate them as much as possible by preparing ahead of time.

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Coverage Options

When looking for insurance, you will want to make sure you choose a policy that offers enough coverage. Here are 7 important considerations to take in to account when looking at your options.

 

1. Medical

No one plans to get sick or injured, but when you are traveling to a foreign country, having medical coverage is always a good idea.

While basic insurance may cover minor injuries or illnesses, anything that could be considered extensive might not be covered. Medical expenses in another country can be costly, so make sure you have enough coverage in the event of an accident or injury.

Check out the NHS Fit For Travel website which has lots of advice on travelling abroad and how to prepare before you go.

 

2. Medical Repatriation

Repatriation includes things such as emergency medivacs and airlifts to your home country which, in some cases can cost thousands of pounds.

Most travel insurance polices will include emergency repatriation as standard but it is always worth checking as any form of air evacuation can incur huge costs.

Of course, more than likely you won’t have to use the coverage, but if your travel insurance policy doesn’t include emergency medical, we strongly advise paying a small fee upfront to add it, just in case.

 

3. Cancellation and Curtailment

Even the best travel plans can unravel. If you have travel insurance, you should be sure it offers trip-cancellation and curtailment in the event that you have to cancel your trip before you go or return home unexpectedly.

Safaris are not cheap, so check that the coverage covers the full cost of your holiday and under what terms the policy will refund you.

 

4. Activities

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Swakopmund Sandboarding

 
If you and your family are planning any specific types of adventures in Africa, you’ll want to make sure your insurance will cover these as well.

Medical coverage doesn’t always extend to cover certain activities such as white water rafting, or hot air balloon rides. If you’re planning to have these types of adventures while you’re away, you’ll want to ensure you tack on the appropriate add-ons to your policy.

 

5. Game Viewing

Most people who embark on an African safari hope to see the Big Five and other exciting wildlife while they’re out there.

It’s important to let your insurance provider know the nature of your trip, and make sure that your policy covers you for safari based activities such as game viewing or walking safaris.

 

6. Travel Destinations

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NAMIBIA

 
Certain locations are not covered in standard travel insurance.

Before you purchase a policy, speak with the agency to make sure you will be covered for each the countries you are visiting and check there are no areas within those countries that your policy does not cover.

 

7. Personal Belongings Coverage

Let’s face it; you will be travelling with valuable gear.

Camera equipment, and large sums of cash that you may have on you when travelling should be considered when purchasing your insurance. High-value items aren’t always included in standard travel insurance policies, in fact a Which? Investigation revealed that most standard policies leave holidaymakers out of pocket, so ask your provider if you need to take out additional coverage for your personal effects.

It’s also important to consider the possibility of lost or forgotten luggage. Carefully think about what your belongings are worth before you sign the agreement.

You can always use the Barclays Value My Suitcase calculator if you aren’t sure how to calculate the value of what you’re taking with you.

 

And Don’t Forget To…

 

Declare Your Age and Any Health Conditions

It is important that you give your insurers your correct age and advise them of any current or previous health conditions you may have/had. This can affect the policy they recommend to you and the overall cost.

Last week I looked at tips for the over-60s, which has some advice on how to prepare before you go on that trip of a lifetime.

 

Remember to Read the Small Print

It is always worth reading the policy in full.

Insurers have a habit of keeping important details hidden. Always have a read through the small print and check if there are any clauses or restrictions that you do not understand or agree with.

More useful information about preparing for safari in Africa is available in your free copy of African Safari: The Ultimate Field Guide a 37-page guide to safaris in Africa written by our expert team.
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What Next?

It’s a good idea to take out your insurance at the time you book your holiday so that you are covered even if you have to cancel your holiday months in advance. This way, should something happen that prevents you from going you’ll be able to open a claim for the flight and accommodation.

Of course, we all hope that we won’t have to use insurance, but the point of coverage is for peace of mind, as well as security in case of the unexpected.

I strongly recommend talking with your insurance provider for more information, and choosing an option that you feel will provide you with enough coverage.

At Safari Drive, we offer world-class safaris to Southern and Eastern Africa. If you’d like to learn more about a safari, or would like us to help you plan a safari of a lifetime, contact us today for a free consultation.

Photos by Ralf Κλενγελ and Diana Robinson


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