Travelling to Egypt soon? Find the right travel insurance for your Egyptian escape
Egypt’s remarkable ancient history makes it a must-visit destination for tourists from all over the world. However, just like for any other international holiday, you’ll need to consider taking out travel insurance cover before you begin your journey.
Why do I need travel insurance?
Travel insurance can protect you against the specific travel concerns of Egypt as well as common travel risks including:
- Overseas medical costs
- Cancellations and lost deposits
- Stolen and lost luggage and personal items
Continue reading find out how travel insurance provides cover for Egypt or
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Egypt has seen political instability and civil unrest in recent years. In July 2013, Egyptian army chief General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi led a coup to remove Egypt’s then Prime Minister from power following extensive nationwide protests, which resulted in bloody clashes between protesters and security forces. In January 2015, protests marking the anniversary of the beginning of the ‘Arab Spring’ also resulted in violence and multiple deaths.
What this means for travel insurance cover
In most cases, an insurer will exclude any claims if you travel to a country that the Australian Government has a "do not travel" warning against. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Smartraveller (DFAT) website currently lists Egypt status as a whole as "reconsider your need to travel".
It’s important to consult your insurer to find out how your policy interprets government warnings and stay on top of the current DFAT warnings. Some travel insurers will provide you cover for current "reconsider you need to travel" status. If the Australian Government changes the status in Egypt to "do not travel" however, most travel insurers will exclude cover.
Certain areas of Egypt can be covered: Avoid the border and North of Sinai
A "do not travel warning" only applies for particular areas of Egypt, such as the Governorate of North Sinai, so you may be able to receive cover for your holiday as long as you stay away from any excluded zones.
Check with your insurer before you travel and try to obtain written confirmation of how, when and where you will be covered.
- Terrorism. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade warns that being caught up in a terrorist incident is a risk for travellers to Egypt, both in terms of attacks targeting the Egyptian Government and attacks on foreigners. Areas such as the border of Israel is particularly dangerous.
- Civil unrest. Since the ‘Arab Spring’ uprising began in 2011, large-scale protests have occurred across Egypt and have turned bloody in some cases. Travellers should avoid protests and monitor any developments in the media. Areas such as the Governorate of North Sinai are particularly dangerous.
- Crime. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade reports that violent crime has been on the rise in Egypt since early 2011. This includes armed robbery, sexual assault and carjacking.
- Petty theft. Just as in many other major cities around the world, pickpocketing and bag-snatching is a potential danger at popular Egyptian tourist spots, especially after dark.
- Assault. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade warns that women travelling alone may be verbally or physically assaulted, so avoid travelling on your own.
Ernie’s insurance for Egypt
As a cautious traveller, Ernie was determined to make sure he had adequate travel insurance in place before visiting Egypt. He took out an Explorer travel insurance plan before departing Australia, which offered $10,000 worth of cover for theft and damage to luggage and personal belongings. When Ernie’s leather bag and digital camera were stolen from a taxi in Cairo, Ernie was able to claim the full cost of replacing the camera and all the contents of his bag.
What losses did Ernie face?
- $600 digital camera replacement
- $200 worth of cash
- $300 leather bag replacement
Total = $1,100
How was Ernie covered?
Although many travellers don’t know it, you’ll find some of the world’s most beautiful coral reefs just off Egypt’s desert shores. From the myriad species of marine life around Pharaoh’s Island to the magnificent Seven Pillars, there’s plenty to explore in the azure waters of the Red Sea.
You must follow these conditions
Most travel insurance policies will provide cover for scuba diving on your Egyptian holiday. You’ll usually need to satisfy certain conditions:
- You must holding an open-water diving licence and
- You must dive with an appropriately qualified instructor
- No reckless behaviour while diving
- No diving at a certain depths (depth depends on the policy)
Check your policyFor example, 1Cover will cover scuba diving up to a depth of 30 metres as long as you hold a licence or are diving with a licensed instructor.
Trekking and walking in the high mountains of Sinai offers a unique experience for visitors to Egypt, combining beautiful natural scenery with glimpses into Egypt’s fascinating history. Sinai however currently has a "do not travel" status, meaning travel insurance will be excluded in that Area. Most travel insurers will provide cover for any trekking for other mountains in Egypt, but you’ll need to examine the conditions and exclusions that apply to your individual policy.
Check your policy
For example, Travel Insuranz will provide cover for trekking up to an altitude of 4,000 metres, but no protection will be offered if the hiking you’re doing requires the use of ropes, picks or other specialised climbing equipment. Budget Direct, on the other hand, will cover trekking up to an altitude of 5,000 metres, so it always pays to check the fine print and make sure you’re fully aware of when cover will and won’t apply.
If you’d like to enjoy a different way to see the sights of Egypt, doing so from atop a camel or horse certainly offers a unique experience. Most insurers will cover horseback and camelback riding, so long as you’re riding for recreational purposes only. So, while a sightseeing tour on horseback would typically be covered, riding a horse to play polo would not. Other exclusions may apply, such as no cover for claims resulting from horseback or camelback riding when you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Check your policy
For example, Cover-More Travel Insurance offers cover for horse-riding, as long as you’re riding for leisure, such as on a trail. Racing, hunting and polo-playing are not covered.
- Quad biking. Enjoy the freedom of exploring the Sinai desert atop an ATV.
- Golf. Pack your clubs and enjoy a round or two with the pyramids in the background.
- Scuba Diving. Explore a different side of Egypt as you see the underwater sights of the Red Sea.
- 4x4 safari. Go off the beaten track and explore the wilds of Egypt’s deserts on a 4WD safari.
- Deep-sea fishing. Catch a monster from the deep on a Red Sea fishing charter.
Whether or not these activities are covered will depend on your insurer. Some companies, such as Columbus Direct, will cover activities such as scuba diving as standard (provided you meet certain conditions), while others will require you to add cover to your policy as part of an optional adventure sports pack. Check with your insurer for more information.
Outside of Cairo, the medical facilities on offer in Egypt are quite basic. Treatment can be costly, and payment in advance is required in many cases. There is no Reciprocal Health Care Agreement in place between the Australian and Egyptian governments. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade reports that a number of infectious diseases are prevalent, including hepatitis filariasis and rabies, so ensuring that you have travel insurance that covers overseas medical expenses is vital.
The role of travel insurance
Having medical travel insurance cover in place ensures that you will receive the treatment you need and are given the best care available. Travel insurance can also cover payments upfront if necessary. If medical evacuation is necessary, your policy can also cover this expense.
How to ensure you are covered
If you need to make an overseas medical expenses claim, you’ll need to provide a range of original documents concerning both the treatment you receive and the cause of your injury or illness. Get everything in writing and contact your insurer’s emergency hotline as soon as possible. Make sure that you comply with any further requests from your insurer for extra information – this is the best way to ensure your claim is promptly processed.
Is Egypt considered part of Europe when it comes to travel insurance?
If you plan on travelling to Europe then hopping over to Egypt afterward, you must make sure you select the appropriate region cover during the application process. While Europe will usually be on the "Worldwide" region for most insurers, Egypt can fall under "Worldwide including Africa" or "Worldwide including USA and Africa". If you are unsure simply get in touch with your insurer as to which region you should select.
- Visa received upon arrival. From December 2015, an electronic visa application system will be in operation, allowing tourists to apply for a visa online before travelling to Egypt. Until then, visas can be obtained upon arrival.
- A maximum local currency. The maximum amount of local currency that can be taken into or out of Egypt at any one time is EGP 5,000.
- Clearance for satellite equipment. If you wish to take a satellite phone or any radio communications equipment into Egypt, you’ll need to obtain clearance from the Egyptian Ministry of Telecommunications.
- Proof of vaccination. If entering from a country where there is a risk of yellow fever, you’ll need a vaccination certificate in order to be granted entry.
- October to February. This time of year coincides with Egypt in winter and is the peak tourist period. The weather around this time of year is generally warm, but travelling in peak season means dealing with crowds and higher accommodation prices.
- March to May or September to October. Travelling during these periods results in cheaper prices than are on offer during peak times, but the increased temperatures can be a little more difficult for some travellers to cope with.
Organising money for Egypt
The local currency in Egypt is the Egyptian pound, the exchange rate for which is set by the government and usually remains fairly stable. Obtaining some Egyptian pounds before beginning your holiday is always a good idea, but you’ll generally be able to find a better exchange rate if you purchase currency in Egypt rather than in Australia.
As tipping is a common practice, stocking up on a variety of banknotes is recommended. Having a small stash of US dollars or euros might also come in handy.
- Do your research. If you’re booking through an Egyptian travel agency or tour guide company, make sure you book with a reputable and properly licensed provider.
- Book flights in advance. If you’re planning on taking a domestic flight within Egypt, make sure to book in advance, as flights can fill up quickly.
- Speak the language. Although Arabic is the official language in Egypt, many locals will understand some English. Even so, learning key Arabic words and phrases is a good idea.
- Tipping. Tipping is common and often expected in Egypt.
- Watch what you eat. Avoid ‘mummy tummy’ by drinking bottled water and avoiding food from questionable roadside stalls.
The best number to call in Egypt depends on the nature of your emergency. In some circumstances, the best course of action is to contact your travel insurer, your credit card company, a friend or family member back home in Australia. However, make sure you have the following contact numbers handy as well:
- Tourist Police: 126
- Fire Service: 180
- Ambulance: 123
- Police: 122
- Consular assistance is available from the Australian Embassy in Cairo, which can be reached on (20 2) 2770 6600.