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Travel insurance can rescue you when stranded in another country

By Athenkosi Sawutana

Before travelling abroad, it’s always advisable that you purchase travel insurance. This insurance helps in case an unfortunate incident occurs.

It covers not only your medical expenses when you get sick, but also the cost of transportation of your body if you pass away while you’re in another country. But what if you want to leave the foreign country but you’ve no means to make your way back home?

Tip: For medical aid that covers you when you’re abroad, click here.

How can travel insurance help you? 

Justmoney spoke to Christelle Colman, managing director and founder at Elite Risk Acceptances, for some tips on how you can use your travel insurance to help you out of the situation.

  • Contact your travel insurance company and enquire about the extension of your policy. Also confirm the benefits available whilst stuck abroad such as medical expenses, additional accommodation and transport expenses. The first thing to establish is why you’re stuck there. If your situation is due to the ongoing Coronavirus, you’ll need to check whether your travel policy includes cover for treatment for the Covid-19 infection. Some policies exclude cover if the policy was purchased after the outbreak of the pandemic. 
  • Immediately contact the airline on which your original ticket was booked to arrange for a rescheduled flight.  Several airlines are operating rescue flights for travellers to return to their country of origin.
  • Contact your travel insurer to request assistance in arranging a flight back to your home country if possible. If the correct cover was taken and the policy is in force, your travel insurer may be able to assist you in making the necessary arrangements.
  • Continuously check available flights back to South Africa as the number of flights can be limited. Try to reschedule your flight or book a new ticket. Remember that you have the right to a refund from the airline for lost flights, or to claim the cost of your new ticket back from the airline. Your travel insurance can help your recover some of your losses.

READ MORE: Travel ban – how to claim for the loss incurred

  • If the reason you’re stranded is because of the COVID-19, adhere to all COVID-19 isolation measures prior to departure – airlines will not fly unhealthy passengers. Stay indoors and adhere to the relevant country’s regulations specifically with regards to lockdown situations. Also consider that all domestic flights in South Africa have been grounded. So, if for instance you’re returning to Johannesburg but live in Port Elizabeth, you’ll have to make local transport arrangements.  All car hire is also seized during the lockdown.
  • Refer to the High Commissions and Embassies regarding the status and extensions of visas. Keep abreast of repatriation efforts by the South African Government, DIRCO Directory for Contact Details of SA Missions.
  • If you’ve been forced to quarantine, a fair word of warning is that many of these costs relating to your return and resultant quarantine measures will not be covered by the insurance policy. This will be for your own account. As with any insurance policy, cover limitations will come into effect so best to be aware of them.

Start planning for your next vacation by making use of our budgeting calculator.

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