There are five key facts concerning Africa travel insurance for any safari trip that it's very important for you to know about before you go because if something does go wrong you will be much better prepared to handle the situation.
Unfortunately not all the safari operators, travel agents and insurance companies in the industry communicate these essential safari travel insurance facts to their clients...
1. You need to arrange your own safari trip coverage
Many safari operators won't accept your tour booking unless you have taken out an Africa travel insurance policy.
Some of them will offer you one of their own (you don't have to take theirs but you must have some form of coverage) and others leave the choice completely up to you.
The reason for this is that although an African safari is not dangerous to go on most of the time, accidents, theft and trip cancellations do happen and if you aren't covered you may suffer financially (medical attention is not cheap in Africa).
2. Get trip curtailment and medical coverage
There are two types of coverage that are important for an African safari so make sure you get both of them...
- Trip Cancellation and Curtailment
This incorporates cover against cancellation or curtailment of the safari which can happen if the operator doesn't have enough participants for a tour, trip interruption or travel delay; loss or theft of, or damage to, baggage and baggage delay (theft of baggage is a problem at some African airports so make sure you keep valuables on your person when flying).
- Medical Expenses
This should include cover for all medical expenses incurred, emergency medical evacuation and repatriation expenses.
You may already have cover in some form or other (airline ticket purchased with a credit card or employer insurance) but make sure that all the above cover is included and if it isn't then you need to get an additional comprehensive Africa travel insurance policy.
3. Make sure you have access to cash by credit card or wire transfer
Something that many people aren't aware of is that most medical providers in Africa won't accept payment from an insurance company so you will have to pay any medical bill in full yourself and claim the amount back from your insurance company.
They might refuse you medical attention if you don't have any means to pay them directly so make sure you set this up before you leave home just in case it becomes necessary. If you need assistance remember to contact your country's local embassy or representative.
4. How to get authorization for emergency medical evacuation
Travel agents and tour operators who are on the ball will address this issue but if yours doesn't then you need to bring it up and ask them about it.
Most Africa travel insurance companies stipulate that you must obtain authorization from them prior to any emergency medical evacuation but on safari some of the camps and lodges are so remote that it might not be possible to have access to a telephone to get the authorization beforehand.
Check with your chosen company if they have this clause and what can be done to get around it if the eventuality does arise.
5. Purchase Africa travel insurance within 7 days of paying your trip deposit
Many policies will ensure your trip deposit and cover you for any preexisting medical conditions and default by most airlines and safari companies if you purchase it within seven days after initial deposit but if you don't the latter won't be covered.