The December holidays are synonymous with family travel and this year, international travel will start becoming a lot easier for South African parents after the government decided to scrap its contested unabridged documentation requirements.
The recent announcement by the Department of Home Affairs has meant that going forward all new passports for South African children will now include pages with the details of the parents – essentially meaning that the parents will no longer be required to travel with unabridged birth certificates.
“While this may result in increased ease for families when they travel, it is essential that parents ensure that the entire family is adequately covered against any risks or eventualities. This includes medical cover (to a certain extent) and travel insurance,” says Vera Nagtegaal, executive head of Hippo.co.za.
Do not assume that just because parents have travel insurance that children will automatically be covered.
“If your minor children (under 18) are travelling with you make sure that you ask your travel agent, financial institution or insurance company who, as well as what is and what is not covered,” says Nagtegaal.
Some insurance providers could offer families improved rates for travel insurance, while others could even offer free insurance for minor children.
Also check how much medical cover your travel insurance provides for, if any.
“If you and your family are intending to participate in activities – be it scuba diving, water skiing etc., it is important to check in your insurance policies how much medical cover you have and if you will need to purchase additional cover for any winter sports or hazardous activities you may do while on holiday,“ points out Nagtegaal.
An international study recently revealed that uninsured travellers could pay up to 12 times more for a stay in a foreign hospital compared to what it would cost for a room in a five-star hotel.
Nagtegaal stresses, “It may seem obvious to point out, but too many people opt out of travel insurance when, for a once-off cost (in most cases), you and your family can have complete ease of mind when abroad, especially without the safety nets you know and are familiar with at home.”
The South African government also urges travellers to take out travel insurance and warns of medical costs abroad.
“Medical costs abroad can be astronomical compared to South Africa. In some instances medical treatment can be withheld by the foreign country if a person has no proof of funds or travel insurance,” according to the Department of International Relations and Co-Operation.
Nagtegaal suggests part of a traveller’s research into a destination, should also involve checking out travel and medical insurance and more so if the trip is a family vacation.
“It is not the most exciting part of planning a trip, but it is certainly one of the most crucial aspects of it. Remember, research, asking questions and comparing travel insurance quotes are key. There are insurance products that cater for people travelling with minors, just be sure what you are purchasing and what exactly it provides for you and your family,” Nagtegaal concludes.