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Travel Insurance To Africa

The continent of Africa may be second in size to Asia, but it tops the charts when it comes to cultural diversity, with 20 of the world’s most diverse countries all hailing from Africa. In fact, there are at least 3000 ethnic groups and 2000 different languages spoken across the African continent alone.

Africa is made up of 54 countries, from Tunisia being the Northernmost African country to South Africa, comprising the Southern tip of Africa. The cultural diversity ranges greatly across these 54 countries, from Egyptian gods in Egypt and Arabic speaking locals in Morocco, to Zulu kings in South Africa - each African country is unique in its own right.

Elephant in Africa

Along with the rich cultural experience that Africa has to offer, it is a continent filled with an abundance of natural resources, providing a plethora of tourist attractions and beauty as far as the eye can see. But as with any trip around the globe, Africa comes with its precautions, more so perhaps than other continents, due to the high rates of crime and political instability rife in a majority of the African countries.

It would be wise to consider travel insurance to any Africa country you choose to visit, let’s consider a few questions pertaining to your travel insurance for Africa.

1. What will travel insurance for Africa cover?

This will heavily depend on which African countries you will be travelling to. Before embarking on your African journey, you may want to consider the countries that are safe enough to travel to - or through - and whether your travel insurance would cover your countries of choice. You can view safety guidelines by country using the Smartraveller website, and we’d suggest you create an account and sign up for travel alerts for any African countries you plan on visiting. In On Africa (IOA) also compiles the Africa Country Benchmark Report (ACBR) 1, which is updated annually to highlight political stability in all African countries. Your travel insurance may not cover you if you visit a country with a “Do not travel” advisory in place.

Some common travel cover benefits for African countries, include:

Medical and dental expenses: Most insurers will cover you for any medical and dental procedures that are needed on your overseas trip to Africa, with the total benefit depending on your cover.

Medical and/or emergency evacuation: Should you need to be medically evacuated from a country, most insurers will offer this as part of your cover. In the event of a political evacuation, you should be covered if the country is not on the list of high-risk countries.

Loss of luggage and personal belongings: Any lost or delayed luggage, resulting in extra expenses, should be covered along with any loss of personal belongings such as passports, travel documents and some electrical equipment.

Delayed or cancelled flights and accommodation: A delayed flight resulting in further delays and expenses should be covered by your insurer. Cancelled flights or accommodation would also be covered - often the airline would reimburse you for any cancelled flights, but check with your insurer too.

24/7 emergency assistance: You don’t want to be left stranded somewhere in Africa without a lifeline - choose an insurer that provides 24/7 emergency assistance.

Crime and political related incidents: Most insurers will cover you against any crime related incidents such as theft or physical harm, along with some crimes related to political instability - again, as long as the country is on the safe travel list.

Rental vehicle insurance and road safety cover: Some insurers cover a certain amount for any damage to a rental car due to accidents. Accidental road death or physical harm from a road accident may also be covered, but you should check with your insurer.

2. What won't travel insurance for Africa cover?

It is important to remember that your travel insurance may not cover you in a country that has been declared unsafe to travel to, due to political, health, or safety reasons. You should always check with them before making travel plans for certain countries.

Some other considerations that may not be covered by your travel insurer, include:

Medical expenses in common health risk areas: Some insurers may not cover you for any illnesses you pick up in areas that are well-known to be high risk for certain diseases, if you have not taken the relevant precautionary methods against contracting those diseases.

High-risk adventures: Going on a safari with dangerous wildlife around, bungee jumping from life-threatening heights, or swimming with sharks are some of the risky activities that may not be covered by your insurer. Check with them first before undertaking these activities - you may require extra travel insurance.

Negligent behaviour: Any incidents that occur in an African country due to negligent behaviour on your part, i.e. being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, behaving unlawfully, or leaving your luggage unattended, will not be covered by your insurer.

Scared child in front of African termite mound

Pre-existing medical conditions: You may not be covered for any medical expenses incurred due to pre-existing medical conditions. Check with your insurer before you depart, to find out what you are covered for, and if you need additional cover for some pre-existing conditions.

3. What to do in the event of an emergency in Africa?

Where possible, obtain as much information as you can about the country you will be travelling to, such as location and contact details for local hospitals, police stations, the Australian Embassy or Consulate, and any other emergency services. These are all invaluable resources to have on hand in the case of an emergency. Try your best to get to a place of safety as soon as you can. If that is not possible, call for help and wait somewhere safe until help arrives. If you ever feel unsafe while driving or walking somewhere in Africa, do your best to drive or walk straight to the nearest police station or place of safety and ask for assistance.

In terms of your travel insurance, you may want to check with your insurer if you are covered for certain things overseas before you undertake them - you may want to initiate a claim while overseas, in which case you will need to have your insurers details on hand. If you insure with one of our four insurers - QBE, CHI, SureSave or Aussietravelcover - we have all the details listed for you. If you can, keep a printed version of the insurers Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) with your other travel documents to assist you with any information you may need.

4. Do I need vaccinations before travelling to Africa?

It is always advisable to be well vaccinated when travelling to an African country, as you can potentially come into contact with many different viruses. Speak to your General Practitioner about these vaccines and what they recommend, remembering that this should be done at least eight weeks before you depart. Your travel insurance may not cover you against a disease that you have not been vaccinated against - always check with your insurer for what is required.

Some common vaccines to consider before leaving on your journey:
  • Polio

  • Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR)

  • Hepatitis A

  • Yellow Fever

  • Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis

  • Typhoid Fever

  • Rabies

  • Meningitis

You may also want to take precautionary measures against malaria, cholera, African Sleeping Sickness, and Bilharzia when travelling to some African countries 2. Ensure you are aware of what potential dangers are around you and take the necessary measures to avoid contracting any unwanted diseases, especially if it will affect your travel insurance cover.

5. How to save on travel insurance for Africa

Expenses can very quickly pile up when it comes to travel, and the last thing that you want is to pay for unnecessary travel insurance costs that you are never going to use. Here are a few tips on how to save with your travel insurance costs when travelling to an African country.

Cut out insurance options you don’t need: You may choose to leave all the expensive camera equipment at home as you journey to Africa, purely because of the high crime rates associated with this continent. That will mean that you no longer need that extra cover for electrical equipment. The same applies to any other cover options or optional extras that may be added on to your travel insurance. If you feel it is unnecessary, rather leave it off.

Know your country: Certain African countries have an extremely expensive medical system, so your travel insurance may need to be trimmed in other areas to provide extra for medical expenses, should they arise.

Combine your cover: If you are travelling with a friend or family member, travel insurance will be cheaper if combined for the two (or more) of you, as opposed to individually. Talk to your insurer about this option and how you can save.

Disclose all the relevant information to your insurer: Hiding a pre-existing condition, an African safari, or a life-threatening adventure trip from your insurer could end up costing you more at the end of the day. Rather disclose every element of your trip, so that you can be covered correctly and avoid unnecessary expenses later on that you cannot claim for.

6. Travel and travel insurance tips for Africa

Learn the lingo: Despite the 2000 odd languages spoken across Africa, English is generally a universally understood language wherever you are in Africa. However, it wouldn’t do you any harm to learn some basic words for the country or area you will be visiting, not only to impress the locals, but also to speed up the process of communication a little.

Don’t rush it: You may have heard the phrase “Africa time” - this refers to the pace at which things are done in Africa … slowly. It can be frustrating at first, but the quicker you learn to embrace it and go with the flow, the better it will be for you.

Always have a payment backup plan: The usual swipe-and-go technique may not be so easy in an African country, with technology limited in some areas. ATM’s can also be unpredictable at times, and carrying large sums of cash a little risky. Find a way to top up your cash at different stops if possible, or disperse it into various areas of your travel gear, so that it’s less likely to be stolen or lost at one time. You could always do it like the locals do and stash it in your bra or underpants.

Save on travel insurance costs for car rental: If you’d like to skim a little off your travel insurance costs by avoiding a car rental, you could use the local transport instead. There’s always a bus, taxi, tuk-tuk, rickshaw and loads more transport options available. This will also give you the perfect first-hand African travel experience. Uber already operates in many African countries, and you can check the Uber website to see if the countries you are visiting are included 3.

How to stay safe: Africa is a poverty stricken continent, so wearing flashy jewels and designer attire is a big no-no. Your travel insurance may cover you for theft or loss of property, but avoiding any temptation at the outset would be a lot easier. Travel by day when you can; don’t walk the streets after dark and always travel in groups when possible. Keep an eye out for people following you, watching you, or walking too close to you - pickpockets, hijackings and other serious crimes are rife in many African countries.

Anything can happen: Never leave Australia without your travel insurance fully intact. In Africa, anything really can happen - from accidents, to theft of personal belongings, to venomous snake bites - there really isn’t any room for taking chances.

Contact details to assist you on your trip to Africa:
24-hour Australian Consular Emergency Helpline

Within Australia:
1300 555 135
Outside Australia:
+61 2 6261 3305
SMS:
+61 421 269 080
QBE Travel Insurance

Overseas Claims Number: +61 3 8523 2777
Claims Email:
travel.claims@qbe.com
Emergency Contact Number:
+61 3 8523 2800
CHI Travel Insurance

Overseas Claims Number:
+61 2 9997 4810
Claims Email:
travelclaims@allianz-assistance.com.au
Emergency Contact Number:
+61 7 3305 7499
SureSave Travel Insurance

Overseas Claims Number:
+61 2 9234 3111
Claims Email:
claims@suresave.com.au
Emergency Contact Number:
Aussietravelcover Travel Insurance

Overseas Claims Number:
+61 2 9979 8888
Claims Email:
travelclaims@allianz-assistance.com.au
Emergency Contact Number:
+61 7 3305 7499

If you know which countries and regions you will be travelling to or through, you can also use the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website to look up the details for local Australian Embassies and Consulates.

Sources:

1 “Africa’s Top 5 most politically-stable countries,” In OnAfrica, accessed August 27, 2018, http://www.inonafrica.com/2018/02/08/africas-top-5-politically-stable-countries/.

2 “ITVC Travel Health Advice For Africa,” International Travel Vaccination Centre, accessed August 27, 2018, http://travelvaccines.com.au/travel-health-advice/your-destination/africa.

3 “Country List,” Uber, accessed August 27, 2018, https://www.uber.com/en-AU/country-list/.

We also offer insurance for other destinations such as France

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