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Relying On Free Travel Insurance Could Leave You Stranded

Aug 17, 2007
Consumers often rely on the travel insurance available as part of their credit card facility, medical aid cover or insurance policies, but this could leave travellers stranded in a foreign country without the funds to receive adequate assistance or medical treatment.

Relying on the free travel insurance available as part of your credit card facility, medical aid cover or insurance policies, could leave you stranded in a foreign country without sufficient cover for adequate assistance or medical treatment.

In the excitement of arranging a dream holiday, many of us are tempted to gloss over the administrative details. Unfortunately, dream holidays can turn into nightmares without the right travel insurance to offer comprehensive protection when things go wrong.

From tsunamis and malaria infection to broken bones, heart attacks and stolen or lost luggage - these unexpected events are some of the real risks you face during your otherwise meticulously planned holiday.

Consumers often rely on the travel insurance available as part of their credit card facility, medical aid cover or insurance policies. Travellers usually only have a vague idea of what these covers entail, because the details are not carefully explained and the policies are seldom customised to meet specific individual needs.

In most cases, the traveller would need to request the full details of the cover packaged within credit card facilities or insurance policies from the financial institution or insurance company. Travel agents also offer travel insurance, but are unlikely to dampen the traveller's enthusiasm by getting into details of an insurance contract.

So while it is easy to simply rely on the cover packaged into a credit card facility or insurance policy, the one-size-fits-all approach taken by these covers introduce the risk of travellers not receiving the cover they expected - an option that could be extremely expensive in the long run.

This fact is clearly evidenced by the many complaints received by the short-term insurance Ombud. Most of the complaints relate to the fact that the limits of the cover are only brought to the travellers' attention after an event that gives rise to a claim has taken place.

These limits define the amount of cover the travellers will have if they fall ill or are injured in a foreign country, where medical costs may be much higher than at home. Also important are the exclusions and conditions of the policy. For example, any injuries or losses related to pre-existing medical conditions, chronic illnesses, hazardous activities, terrorist acts, acts of war, civil disturbance or riots are excluded by many policies.

There is only one way you can protect yourself against claims being repudiated, and that is by getting a copy of the policy, reading it carefully and ensuring you completely understand the terms, conditions, exclusions, limits and your responsibilities in terms of the policy.

This seldom happens, though, as in the excitement of buying plane tickets and booking luxury hotel rooms, very few consumers want to read the fine print on an insurance contract. Often, time is also of the essence, making it even less likely that consumers will take the time to study the insurance cover.

The result is that thousands of travellers fly off to their destinations, not knowing what cover is in place and what procedures they should follow if something happens.

Having the right travel insurance will ensure that minor inconveniences such as lost luggage, flight delays and the cancellation of events will not ruin your holiday. It will also ensure you can enjoy complete peace of mind that you will be fully covered to receive the best treatment and evacuation services in the event of a medical emergency or a disaster.
About the Author
Gary Terrazas is an online marketing consultant assisting Travel Insurance South Africa get online exposure.
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