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Check your insurance policy before you travel abroad!

Planning a road trip, holiday or business trip that takes you out of SA? Make sure your insurance policies will cover you when you are away.

12 November 2019
4 minute read

family on airplane

Step across your country’s border and a whole new set of rules and regulations apply. That may mean your South African short-term and long-term insurance policies won’t cover you. Here’s what you need to know.

Short term insurance
Vehicle insurance Are you covered outside South Africa?
We contacted four big insurers, and all advised you are covered for travel into South Africa’s neighbouring countries only, as well as SA.  However, it’s a good idea to double check with your insurer before you leave the country.

Are there any specific conditions?
There might be, so check with your insurer.

You will need a driver’s licence (South African) or International Driving Permit if you cross the border, and a cross-border letter from your insurer and one from the car finance company if you are paying off your car. A cross-border letter confirms ownership and is used to check your vehicle is not stolen.

If you are in a rental car and plan to cross the border, ask your car rental company what you are covered for and what documents you need to be allowed to cross the border in your rental car.

There may be specific conditions your insurer or car rental company needs you to fulfil, such as you need to travel on main roads or keep the car safe at night in a secure parking area. You may also need to be contactable on your cellphone 24 hours a day while you are away.

Portable possessions insuranceThese are cellphones, tablets, laptops, luggage, handbags, clothes – anything you travel with.

Are you covered outside South Africa?
Not unless your short-term insurance policy specifically includes cover outside SA, or you have worldwide coverage in policies for individual items such as cell phones. Some policies state that portable possessions must be in South Africa to be covered.

You might be able to upgrade your policy so that you are covered outside the country. Alternatively, you can take out a travel insurance policy. Travel insurance is available from insurance companies, your credit card company and specialised travel insurers.

Top tip: Always let your short-term insurer know when and if you are travelling outside SA, and check whether your possessions are covered.

Long term insurance
Life cover, disability, dread disease and income protection cover
Are you covered if something happens when you are outside South Africa?
It depends. Most insurers will cover you if you take a short holiday, usually two weeks or less, to African and overseas countries. However, if you are travelling to take part in a dangerous event or activity such as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, you need to find out if you would be covered should anything happen.

If you are travelling to a war-torn country, you might not be covered because the risk of death or injury would be much higher than it is in SA. You need to tell your insurer if you are travelling to a dangerous country or region, even for a short time, so they can assess the risk.

Tell your insurer if you are travelling to a high-risk area

It is advisable to check the terms and conditions of your policy contract to see whether you need to notify your insurer of any travel outside of the borders for South Africa. Make sure that you will be covered for your coming trip. If you are uncertain, contact your insurer before you leave.

Top tip: Tell your insurer if you are travelling to a high-risk area, or taking part in a high-risk activity outside South Africa, even if just for a short trip.

Funeral cover
Transporting someone who has passed away in another country, back to South Africa, can be expensive.  Although the Department of International Relations and Cooperation say they don’t offer financial assistance, they do help with arrangements such as finding providers who will repatriate the body and getting quotes for the service. Travel insurance may also offer benefits for transporting a deceased home.

Some policies include a repatriation benefit, so check with your insurer what is covered. 1Life Funeral Cover includes a repatriation service to transport the deceased from place of death (the territory) to the final funeral home closest to the place of burial (within the borders of South Africa). The "territory" shall mean the Republic of South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho and Mozambique.

Top tip: If you regularly travel outside of South Africa, consider taking a policy that could cover the costs of passing on in another country.

Medical cover
Perhaps one of the most common travelling incidents is a medical emergency. Most of these are not too serious but will require some medical attention. So, it is a good idea to check what kind of medical cover you have.

Travel insurance will offer some cover such as emergency medical care. Your medical aid may also cover medical care in other countries, but you need to check as the amount and type of cover differs depending on your medical aid plan.

Top tip: Find out what emergency medical care is offered in the places you will be travelling to and if you need to pay cash for care and treatment.

Take care of the admin before you travel
Don’t let your holiday or trip be ruined if you lose your possessions or are a victim of theft or have an accident. Check what you need to insure beforehand, and how you can insure it. Plan a few weeks in advance, if you can, so you know exactly how much cover you have beforehand, and you can enjoy your trip.

1Life is an authorised FSP and Insurer

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