Image via Flickr user Jurien Minke
It is imperative that business travellers ensure their travel insurance is up to scratch before embarking on a business trip. According to Corporate Traveller South Africa, in 2014, 40% of business trips from South Africa were into the rest of the continent, and of these, 65% of travel insurance claims were medical, compared to only 25% for cancellation and 15% for baggage loss or damage.
According to data from Travel Insurance Consultants (TIC), which works closely with Corporate Traveller, travellers aged 40 years and above tend to be at the greatest risk of cardiac emergencies, and diabetes is the most common pre-existing illness claim. Further to this, 50% of medical claims are accident or injury related, but the most common claim was food poisoning or gastroenteritis, resulting in travellers forking out anywhere between R3 000 – R30 000 for medical bills due to insurance policies that were insufficient.
Typically, travellers do not think it is necessary to take out additional travel insurance as a certain amount of cover is provided by their banks when purchasing an air ticket on a credit card. However, what travellers are not aware of is that this provides only limited medical cover and makes no provision for pre-existing conditions. By opting to top up this cover with an additional policy, a much greater level of cover can be secured at an affordable cost and obviously minimise the risks of incurring unnecessary costs.
When it comes to serious illness, although most people are worried about Ebola, it is malaria that dominates travel risks. Annually, there are about 200 million cases of malaria, of which 600 000 result in death. As a lot of hospitals and clinics in Africa lack basic medication and equipment; it is therefore important to know the risks and ask the right questions before heading overseas.
“Travel insurance is in part about the importance of being able to react quickly and having all the necessary agreements in place to provide a comprehensive insurance plan that can cover unplanned incidents such as these,” explains Michelle Jolley, Marketing Manager, Corporate Traveller.
Most serious medical cases on the continent such as these often require a patient to be moved to an appropriate facility, usually in another country. As such, TIC employs the services of Europ Assistance to manage all medical emergencies.
One of the latest provisions is an unconditional tropical disease cover, which is designed to provide full cover upon contracting malaria – even if the traveller did not take preventative medicines. To highlight the benefit of this insurance, a traveller who recently contracted malaria in Sierra Leone could not be treated there and was transferred to the nearest centre of medical excellence, Accra, Ghana. The total cost of which, including medical care, amounted to more than R950 000.
An alternative solution which provides great peace of mind for business travellers is an annual travel insurance policy, which can be taken out in the company’s name and provides cover for all travellers over an annual period. The policy is purchased in bulk based on the estimated number of travel days employees are likely to undertake over one year, and then adjusted at the end of the period based on actual travel dates. This represents a highly cost-effective and hassle free-solution against any unplanned medical needs while abroad.
“It’s natural to think ‘it will never happen to me’, but the reality of being unprepared is significant, from both a financial and health perspective. The cost of medical aid on the continent can be enormous, especially when the patient may need to be transferred across borders for treatment. ,Therefore it is more important than ever that travellers know what is covered in their travel insurance,” says Jolley.
by GGi Communications
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