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If you’re going to South Africa you need worldwide travel insurance to cover your trip, but most importantly, your medical expenses.
If you plan to make more than one trip abroad over the next year, annual cover could be the most cost-effective option. Annual travel insurance cover will auto-renew after 12 months, so remember to cancel it if you no longer need it.
A worldwide single-trip policy will probably work out cheaper if you’re only going to South Africa this year.
There’s a mixture of private and public hospitals in South Africa, but you’ll need to pay for any treatment and medicine you receive. Healthcare can become very expensive if you’re taken ill or you’re injured and need medical assistance.
Have a hard copy of all your travel insurance documents to hand, plus the funds to pay immediately if you need to.
All travel insurance policies cover medical expenses as standard and most include repatriation cover to get you back home if necessary - check policy details to be sure.
If you’re going on safari in South Africa, check your cover’s valid for all the activities on your itinerary. Game walks, camping out overnight, or hot-air balloon rides over the game park might not be covered.
As you’ll be in remote areas, it’s even more important that your insurance offers good levels of medical cover so you can get to the nearest hospital - air ambulances aren’t uncommon, and very expensive.
If you’re planning on other sporting activities, check the wording of your travel insurance policy to see if you’re covered. For surfing and other risky activities, you’ll need adventurous sports insurance.
Your travel insurance will cover you if you’re a victim of crime, but there will be conditions and exclusions so read your policy documents carefully.
For example, if you’re a victim of theft, you may not be covered if your possessions were left out in the open. Most insurers expect you to keep valuables in your hotel safe.
Check the level of cash cover your policy contains, and what excess you would have to pay.
Before you leave, check the latest travel advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to make sure your trip to South Africa goes smoothly and safely.
If you lose your passport, travel insurance usually covers some of the costs of getting an emergency travel document (ETD).
For visits of up to 90 days, you don’t need a visa.
There are rules around documentation for minors, so if you’re travelling with children, make sure you read the guidance from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
There are several vaccines and boosters you should get before travelling to South Africa. For an up-to-date list, see the NHS Fit for Travel website. Speak to your doctor and arrange vaccinations six to eight weeks before you travel.