South Africa is a popular holiday destination all year round for many Australians. It’s easy to see why with its wildlife and stunning African scenery. But whether you’re off to explore Cape Town, drive down the Garden Route or head for Kruger National Park, there is one key thing that you need to have before you depart – travel insurance. Whether it’s a, cancelled flight, lost or stolen luggage, serious medical emergency or one of the many other unforseen events, travelling without travel insurance could mean that your trip of a lifetime becomes memorable for all the wrong reasons.
Continue reading our informative guide to Travel Insurance for South Africa or if you are ready to receive a quote for cover, simply enter your details in the form below to receive quotes for cover.
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Why Travel Insurance for your South African getaway is essential
South Africa offers travellers a combination of thrilling adventures, spectacular scenery and amazing wildlife. Popular adventure activities include mountain climbing, shark cage diving, elephant-back or Big Five wildlife safaris and white water rafting. While South Africa will definitely leave you with a memorable trip, there are large health and safety risks including:
Theft and armed robbery. Theft is a common issue for travellers visiting South Africa
Tourist police scams. This involves criminals posing as ‘tourist police’ and stopping tourists to check them for proof of identity and search their luggage. Another concern is beggars who target cars on highways off ramps or when stopped at intersections and traffic lights
Regional unrest. Attacks against immigrants from neighbouring has led to violence in some parts of South Africa
Poor road and driving conditions. Due to factors like alcoholism and poor driving standards, driving can be risky
Cholera and malaria. Rural areas of South Africa have occurrences of cholera, with serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. Malaria is also prevalent in remote areas of far north and east South Africa, including Kruger National Park
HIV/AIDS. The rate of HIV/AIDS infection is very high in South Africa
Dangerous wild life. Although there are many beautiful animals, many are dangerous and pose the risk of sever injury
Extreme adventure activities. South Africa is home to a 216m bungee jumping facility and other activities that carry safety concerns
How much does travel insurance to South Africa cost?
The average cost of travel insurance to South Africa varies from $86.48 to $408.14 depending on the buyers age group.
Prices based on a 2 week trip to South Africa. Prices last updated on November 2015.
What does each priced policy look like?
The cheapest policies to South Africa tend to be basic with lower limits whilst the most expensive policy is more comprehensive and features higher cover limits. Consider your own travel needs when deciding on a travel insurance policy.
Cheapest costing policy
Average costing policy
Most expensive costing policy
Cancellation fees and lost deposits
Overseas emergency medical and hospital expenses
Hospital cash allowance
Cutting your trip short
Travel documents and travellers cheque
Luggage and personal effects
Delayed luggage allowance
Rental Vehicle Excess
Alternative transport expenses
Resumption of Journey
Loss of income
Theft of cash
Default excess on claims
Note: Information is accurate as of September 2019.
Four South African adventure activities you must get extra for
A safari is one of the key experiences of any South African getaway. These wild animals however, are unpredictable and things can sometimes go wrong. While most insurers will cover you for injury and illness while you’re out on safari, it’s important that you always follow the advice of the tour guide or park ranger, as you won’t be covered if you fail to do so and recklessly put yourself in danger. See how different travel insurers cover safaris.
Hiking and Trekking
Some providers will exclude hiking from cover altogether. However, there are policies out there that will cover you for incidents that occur while you’re hiking in South Africa - just make sure you read the PDS closely to work out if hiking is included or as an extra.
An iconic feature of any South African holiday is diving with great white sharks. Most diving businesses will have liability insurance in place to cover any unexpected incidents and it’s a good idea to check what cover a company before you book a dive. It doesn't however hurt to take out a travel insurance policy that also covers shark diving, giving you the peace of mind you need to enjoy this memorable South African experience.
South Africa is home to iconic bungee jumping sites such as the Orlando Towers at Soweto. Like most extreme activities, it is a must that you check with your travel insurer if it is included in your policy or if you have to add an option. Additionally check with the bungee jumping provider what means of cover they have.
Bungee jumping in Soweto
Craig has been looking forward to his South African holiday for months and, in particular, a bungee jumping adventure he has planned. But due to an unfortunate bungee jumping mishap when Craig takes the leap of faith, he ends up with a dislocated kneecap and some severe ligament damage. The resulting surgery and hospital stay needed to repair his knee leads to a medical bill in the vicinity of $8,000, but luckily Craig has planned ahead. He purchased travel insurance with optional cover for adventure activities, meaning that all his medical costs are covered by his insurer.
Will I be covered if racial riots force me to cancel my trip?
Areas of race-related violence
Although it’s an amazingly beautiful country, South Africa does have a reputation around the world for crime problems. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) recommends that Australian travellers ‘exercise a high degree of caution’ when visiting South Africa. It also reports recent issues of race related violence in certain areas, including in the
Central business districts of Durban
Central business districts of Johannesburg
Villages of Kwa Mushu and Umlazi in Kwa-Zulu Natal
Villages of Umlazi in Kwa-Zulu Natal
When travel insurance covers you
If you were ever unfortunate enough to get caught up in such violence, you probably won’t be covered by your insurer — a common exclusion of most travel insurance policies is that no cover is available when you visit an area which DFAT has advised against travelling to
However, if you were to cancel your trip ahead of time as the threat of race related violence or an unstable situation arises after you have bought your travel insurance, policies may pay you out to cover your cancellation expenses
After South Africa, I wish to travel the rest of the continent - Will I be covered?
Check official government warnings.
As we touched on above, don’t expect to receive cover from an insurer if you travel to a country which the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advises against visiting. Such travel advisories can be found on DFAT’s Smartraveller website. Here are the DFAT official recommendations for - Confirmed as of 3 September 2015:
DO NOT TRAVEL
RECONSIDER NEED TO TRAVEL
Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Libya, Mali, Niger, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan
Tunisia, Sierra Leone and Egypt
Check with your travel insurance provider
Some insurers will explicitly not cover certain countries due to their volatility and climate of instability. You’ll need to check the fine print of a policy for full details of excluded countries, but destinations such as Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda and Zimbabwe regularly make the list of excluded countries.
If you’re hiring a rental vehicle and taking to the road in South Africa, be warned that there are several dangers to keep an eye out for. In fact, South Africa has some of the most dangerous roads in the world, with 33.2 road fatalities per 100,000 people (Australia’s is around 5-6 deaths per 100,000 people). Remember, travel insurance is mean't to cover you in unforeseen circumstances, don't put yourself in a position of loss by taking part in reckless driving.
Common risk factors with South African roads
Roads that are poorly lit, poorly marked and not properly maintained
Dangerous driving – other drivers changing lane without warning and with little concern for any other road users
Old, underpowered cars sharing the road with much newer, high-speed models
The standard of health care in South Africa is typically excellent, especially in the major cities, although remote cities may be limited in medical services. In order to ensure that you can receive prompt medical attention whenever you need it, it’s vital that you have travel insurance in place that covers your overseas medical costs.
Whether you’re travelling in South Africa you can call your insurance provider for 24/7 emergency assistance should you ever need it, but you should also take note of the following South African emergency numbers:
Police. 10111 is the nationwide emergency number for the police
Ambulance. 10177 is the nationwide emergency number for ambulance
Netcare911. Emergency Response. 082911 is the number for Netcare911, the largest privately-owned emergency response company in South Africa
Mobile Network provided emergency number. 112 is the standard GSM emergency number and should work on all mobile phones - you don’t even need to have credit
Australian embassies and consulates. You can find locations and contact details below.
Now that we’ve got you well on your way to finding a suitable travel insurance for your trip to South Africa, here are some travel tips to make your holiday as breezy as possible:
Safety. While known for its extraordinary beauty, South Africa is also known for high levels of serious crime. Leave your flashy jewellery or gadgets at home to avoid being a target of crime. Be wary of strangers approaching you for help to avoid being scammed. Always be aware and alert to your surroundings
Baz Bus. This hop-on, hop-off bus is a super convenient, flexible, safe and affordable way to explore all that South Africa towns and landscapes have to offer. What’s more, they will pick you up and drop you off at the door of your accommodation
Tipping. Tipping is usually done in the local currency, Rand, but US dollars are also acceptable. At restaurants and bars it is customary to tip 10% to 15%, but many restaurants will automatically add a 10% service charge for groups larger than six people. If you are driving, petrol stations are not self-serviced and your attendant can be tipped about R5 to R10 to fill your petrol, check the oil, water and tyre pressures and clean windscreens. At hotels, leaving R50 per person per day for housekeeping is customary
Smoking. It is illegal to smoke in public spaces, including airports and railway stations. You’ll be able to find designated smoking and non-smoking areas at restaurants and pubs
Value Added Tax (VAT). In South Africa, VAT is included in the price of almost all products unless stated otherwise, much like our GST. You can claim back VAT on products that you buy to take out of South Africa, if they total over R250
Local advice. Be open to local suggestions and tips and you’ll be sure to have a much more memorable experience of the local culture
Common features that Travel Insurance policies cover
While the total amounts you are covered for will depend on your level of South Africa travel insurance chosen, some common features include:
Overseas medical and dental expenses. If you get sick or are injured in South Africa, your travel insurance will cover your medical and dental expenses. Many travel insurance policies cover overseas medical evacuation costs too
Delays and cancellations. Travel insurance for South Africa will reimburse the costs associated with cancellation, rescheduling travel arrangements or last minute accommodation in South Africa
Luggage, personal belongings and travel documents. If you have travel insurance for your trip to South Africa, your insurer will either cover the costs of replacing any lost and stolen items to the limit set out in the policy
Worldwide 24/7 emergency assistance. Travel insurance brands understand how useful a 24/7 emergency assistance service can be. That’s why it’s important to choose a provider who offers emergency assistance at any time of the day or night
Cooling off period. This means you can take the time to figure out if your South Africa travel insurance plan is suitable for your needs before you leave Australia
It is crucial to check your travel insurance for all exclusions before you travel. Some general exclusions for South Africa travel insurance may include:
Pre-existing medical conditions. Pre-existing medical conditions may not be covered unless you specifically pre-arranged it with your South Africa travel insurance provider
Irresponsible behaviour. Irresponsible behaviour includes being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, leaving your luggage unattended in a busy public area or knowingly breaking the law
High-risk sports and activities. Many adventurous activities are not automatically covered by travel insurance brands, but often come as an add-on premium. Buying the appropriate options is particularly important if you plan on letting your inner daredevil out in South Africa
Travelling against Government advice. If you choose to ignore advice and travel warnings from the Australian Government, your travel insurance will be void
That will depend on you and the type of travel you are planning on doing. Think about where you are heading to, the type of activities you’ll be participating in and whether you want a basic or comprehensive cover. Once you have an idea about the factors, compare the benefits and features of the many travel insurance policies available.
Where can I find out about Government travel advisories?
Smartraveller provides a wealth of information about current warnings. While you’re there, it’s also a great idea to register your travel plans, so that if an emergency were to happen in South Africa, you can receive automatic updates to ensure your safety.
What about my partner or children?
Most travel insurance policies will have options to easily include your partner or children. Be sure to ask your South Africa travel insurance provider for any fine print details you should be aware of.
Where can I compare travel insurance policies?
Check out our quote engine below.
Six steps to comparing travel insurance for South Africa
When selecting the level of travel insurance you will need, ask yourself these six questions:
1. Where in South Africa are you going? Some part of South Africa will can be more dangerous e.g. Durban or what other African countries will you be visiting.
2. How many times will you go to South Africa this year? Decide on single trip or annual multi-trip cover
3. What activities in South Africa will you take part in? If you plan on surfing in Cape Town make sure your insurance policy covers this activity.
4. Are you taking valuable items? Consider extra cover for expensive cameras and electronics
5. Do you have any medical conditions? Make you declare any pre-existing medical conditions and make sure your policy covers medical cover.
6. Do you prefer paying more upfront or only when you have to clam? Look at both the price of the policy and excess required for claims.
I'm ready to compare travel insurance for South Africa
With the protection of a comprehensive travel insurance for South Africa, you’ll be able to truly enjoy the beauty of South Africa without a worry, knowing that even if things don’t all go according to plan, your travel insurance policy has got your back. Fill out the form below to compare quotes for travel insurance for South Africa.
Richard Laycock is Finder's insurance editor, and has spent the last five years wrangling insurance product disclosure statements. His musings about insurance have appeared on Money Mag, Yahoo Finance, and Travel Weekly. When he’s not helping people make sense of insurance fine print, he is testing the quality of cocktails in his newfound home of New York. Richard studied Media at Macquarie University and The Missouri School of Journalism and has a Tier 1 Certification in General Advice for Life Insurance.
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