Travel insurance: South Africa

Trip to South Africa? Be prepared with the right travel insurance

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    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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    aerial photo of cape town south africaWhy 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
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    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.

    Policy featuresCheapest costing policyAverage costing policyMost expensive costing policy
    Cancellation fees and lost deposits
    • No cover
    • $12,500
    • Unlimited
    Overseas emergency medical and hospital expenses
    • Unlimited
    • Unlimited
    • Unlimited
    Dental Expenses
    • $500
    • $500
    • $500
    Hospital cash allowance
    • No cover
    • $75
    • $15,000
    Cutting your trip short
    • No cover
    • $12,500
    • Unlimited
    Additional expenses
    • $5,000
    • $12,500
    • $40,000
    Personal liability
    • $1,000,000
    • $2,000,000
    • $5,000,000
    Travel documents and travellers cheque
    • No cover
    • $2,500
    • $5,000
    Luggage and personal effects
    • $2,500
    • $5,000
    • $7,500
    Delayed luggage allowance
    • No cover
    • $400
    • $600
    • No cover
    • No cover
    • $1,500
    Rental Vehicle Excess
    • No cover
    • $4,000
    • $6,000
    Travel Delay
    • No cover
    • $50
    • $100
    Alternative transport expenses
    • No cover
    • $2,500
    • $5,000
    Resumption of Journey
    • No cover
    • No cover
    • $3,000
    Loss of income
    • No cover
    • No cover
    • $10,400
    Theft of cash
    • No cover
    • $250
    • $400
    Pet care
    • No cover
    • No cover
    • $500
    Default excess on claims
    • $200
    • $200
    • $200

    Note: Information is accurate as of September 2019.

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    south african safari tour looking at an elephantFour 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.

    Shark Diving

    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.

    Bungee Jumping

    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.

    More information on sports travel insurance

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    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
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    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:


    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.

    I want to cross check multiple insurers

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    Dangers on the road that insurance may not cover

    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
    • Drink driving and drunk pedestrians
    • A lackadaisical approach to seatbelts
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    Getting medical treatment in South Africa

    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.

    Due to long waiting times and staffing issues in the public system, it is ideal to receive treatment in a private facility. At most hospitals and clinics, upfront payment, a guarantee of payment or confirmation of your medical cover will typically be expected before you can receive any treatment.

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    Who do I contact in an emergency?

    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.
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    What vaccinations should I consider getting before my trip?

    It’s always important that you consult your GP before travelling overseas. When travelling to South Africa, it's advisable to have the following vaccinations:

    • Yellow fever
    • Measles/mumps/rubella
    • Diptheria/tetanus/pertussis
    • Varicella and polio

    • Yearly flu shot
    • Hepatitis A and B
    • Typhoid
    • Rabies

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    Travel Tips for South Africa

    south african landscape at sunriseNow 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
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    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

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    What are some exclusions I should look out for?

    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
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    Travel Insurance South Africa FAQs

    How much travel insurance do I need?

    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 quotes?

    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 quotes 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.

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