That festive feeling: The season’s (surprising) hottest travel essential

The only heat you want to face this silly season is the sun overhead. Escape holiday headaches with travel insurance.

by Tia

Well, Mzansi, it’s almost time to pack your bags and head off on that long-awaited year-end holiday. That festive feeling is in the air, and we can almost smell the pina coladas and sunscreen.

But before you start dancing the holiday jig, let’s have a serious chat about the travel essential you shouldn’t leave home without. We know, we know – travel insurance isn’t fun. It seems like just another expense when you’re trying to stick to a holiday budget. But skimping on insurance could leave your dream holiday in tatters, and no one wants that!

“Travel insurance is often seen as just an extra expense, but the truth is, it’s an absolute lifesaver if things go pear-shaped on your trip,” says Antoinette Turner, General Manager of Flight Centre South Africa.

You may be wondering, why is insurance especially vital for holidays over the chaotic December period? Simply put, there’s way more potential for travel disruptions when everyone and their auntie is taking a break.

From crowded airports to busy roads, flight delays, lost luggage, and fully-booked hotels, travelling at this hectic time of year makes mishaps way more likely to happen. And that’s not even thinking about suddenly falling ill on your holiday. Eish!

According to Travel Insurance Consultants (TIC), a leading travel insurance provider, the claims they see most often from December travellers involve:

  • Missed connections when flights are delayed
  • Lost or delayed bags with airports stretched to capacity 
  • Medical emergencies abroad

“Many people falsely believe their medical aid will automatically cover them when they’re travelling, but that’s often not the case, especially for international travel,” Turner explains. “Your medical aid may not be valid abroad. If you require hospitalisation, costs can escalate quicker than a cheetah chasing a springbok, especially if dollars or Euros are involved.”

“You spend all year saving up for your annual getaway, so don’t risk it by trying to cut costs on insurance,” advises Turner. “The peace of mind alone makes it so worthwhile. It can really be a lifesaver.”

5 Travel Scenarios You Really Don’t Want to Face Without Insurance This Silly Season:

1. Your luggage gets delayed and you’re stuck wearing your airplane hoodie in tropical Mauritius without so much as a bikini or flipflop in sight. Or you’ve just landed in Paris to transit to Geneva en route to the snowy French Alps and your outfit is no match for the subzero temperatures that loom ahead. Travel insurance can help reimburse you for emergency purchases to keep you appropriately dressed and clean until your luggage arrives.
Top tip: Ensure that you have essentials such as a change of clothing that’s destination appropriate, toiletries, medicine and valuables in your hand luggage.

2. Busting your best dance moves at a New York club, you twist your ankle or stub your toe – it could be broken. As dollar signs flash before your eyes at the thought of an ER visit in the Big Apple, you promptly faint on the floor. Medical coverage to the rescue, without you having to sacrifice an arm and a leg!

3. Your visa gets denied and your flight is tomorrow. Did you know that you can get a visa denied cover?This is essential cover for South African passport holders as a backup for visa wobbles.

Top tip: Apply for visas early. Please note that your passport must be valid, you cannot have a criminal record, applications must be submitted in the prescribed time and all related documents, as specified, must be in order.

4. An unexpected family emergency back home has popped up, and someone’s ended up in the hospital. So, you’ve got to switch up your travel plans and head back from your Thailand adventure sooner than you thought. Luckily, your insurance can lend a hand by covering those pesky change fees and new flight expenses. Just remember to take a good look at your policy to know what’s covered and maybe chat with a qualified expert to pick the perfect policy before you set off on your trip.

5. You’ve booked a red-eye flight from Johannesburg to London but upon check-in, you’re informed of a 12-hour delay. Disappointed, you realise you’ll be spending the night on the hard airport floor instead of your comfy seat. The right travel insurance policy could’ve covered costs for a hotel, meals, and sorted out any subsequent flights that you may miss as a result.

The bottom line? Don’t let a lack of preparation turn your holiday into a nightmare. Investing in comprehensive travel insurance from a trusted provider like TIC will give you financial protection and peace of mind if any mishaps strike this holiday season.

Here’s an insider holiday travel tip – don’t only consider overseas insurance! Many South Africans road tripping locally will need to hire a car. A local travel insurance policy includes cover for the excess in the event of a car accident (car rental excess waiver) up to R10 000.

With the right preparation and insurance coverage, you can relax and enjoy the best December yet.

Top travel insurance tips

  • Save the emergency number for your insurance provider in multiple places (i.e., on your phone and in a hard copy form).
  • Save all receipts for any expenses. Be sure you know beforehand what your insurance provider can reimburse you for and how you will be refunded (in most cases, you will be reimbursed afterwards for expenses incurred). Usually, claims have to be submitted first, and they will then be assessed subject to the terms and conditions of the policy.

“Your Flight Centre expert cannot offer advice as they are not an insurance broker. However, they will assist you by pointing you in the right direction, advising on the necessity of travel insurance, and putting you in touch with a TIC consultant to advise on the best policy for you. Your travel expert will be able to then facilitate the purchase of the right policy on your behalf,” concludes Turner.

Disclaimer: This article provides general informationonly, subject to terms and conditions and is subject to change at any time without notice. It does not constitute insurance advice.

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