Are you travelling under cover?

If you’re a frequent traveller, or have more than one getaway planned in a year, you could consider an annual policy Your suitcase is packed. Passports in hand. The kids are bursting with the excitement of a family holiday together. You’re just about to walk out the door when you realise you’ve forgotten something crucial: travel insurance.

Familiar story? Perhaps not, as millions of people all over the world travel both locally and internationally without taking out a travel insurance policy. Unlike car insurance, travel insurance is optional, so you can book and enjoy a holiday without giving it a second thought. Some travel and tour operators, however, insist that you purchase insurance when booking with them, particularly if you will be taking part in any activities that carry a risk, such as going on safari or anything involving extreme sports – although, for general holidays, it is often not required.

So why bother with travel insurance if you’re just going to be spending a whole week lazing on a beach? A basic travel insurance policy essentially covers you for the unexpected, such as flight delays, lost baggage and falling ill, which can and does happen to large numbers of holidaymakers.

There are many levels of travel insurance. Most companies offer customisable policies to suit your travel needs. A basic policy, however, should cover the cost of the following:

• Cancellation – if you have to cut short or cancel your holiday

• Flight delay – the length of delay before a claim can be made depends on a range of factors including the airline’s own rules

• Personal belongings and baggage cover – in case they’re lost, damaged or stolen

• Emergency assistance – usually a 24-hour helpline to assist you in an emergency

• Medical cover – if you’re taken ill or involved in an accident while travelling abroad.

If you decide to purchase travel insurance, or are required to do so by your travel provider, you can browse various policies from a range of providers to find one that suits your travel requirements. When purchasing a policy, you will have to pay a premium, which covers you for the details listed in the policy. If you don’t need to make a claim, the premium is all you need to pay.

Excesses Be sure to take note of any excesses charged, however, as you will be liable to pay these if you make a claim. For example, if you make a claim for lost baggage and the insurer states it will pay out KES 60,000 subject to a KES 10,000 excess, then the insurer will pay out the total amount minus the excess – in this example, KES 50,000. It’s also worth checking how much your insurer will pay out in the event of a claim to ensure that you and your belongings will be fully covered if the worst happens.

If you’re a frequent traveller, or have more than one getaway planned in a year, you could consider an annual policy, which may work out cheaper than buying a new single policy every time you travel. If you’re going to be travelling to multiple destinations, make sure you’re fully covered for each getaway before you purchase.

Medical conditions While a travel insurance policy will cover you for any accidents or unforeseen circumstances that arise during your holiday, you will be required to declare any pre-existing medical conditions, which may affect your premium, as people with poor health are more likely to make a claim than those in good health, thus pushing up premiums. Although this will mean paying more initially, it will mean that you are covered, but any pre-existing medical conditions not declared on your policy are likely to not be covered in the event of a claim.

There’s a range of local insurance companies and brokers offering travel insurance, at Travel Sphere we prefer Covermore Travel Insurance and Suresave.

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