Insurance – a traveller’s saving grace

VERY few leisure travellers plan trips to countries that suffer from political instability or natural disasters yet corporate travellers may need to go to Cameroon to secure that oil deal, for example, or to a volatile area in the Middle East to expand the company.

For this reason, continues Travel Insurance Consultants (TIC) sales and marketing manager, Simmy Micheli, a comprehensive travel insurance policy, with emergency evacuation assistance, can be a traveller’s saving grace even if that person is not travelling in a dangerous environment.

“Companies are more aware that it is their responsibility to ensure that employees – secondees, expats and short-term business travellers – have adequate insurance should they be injured in a riot in a conflict-ridden region, or fall ill in a country without adequate health-care facilities.”

The corporate liability of an employer towards employees travelling abroad on company business has serious legal and fiduciary considerations so companies are taking their duty of care seriously, she says.

According to Micheli, TIC policy holders in SA travel to Africa (57%), followed by Europe (21%), Asia (13%), North America (6%), Oceania (2%) and South America (1%).

With Africa topping the list, malaria and motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) remain the biggest risk for travellers, she confirms. The cost of treatment for malaria escalates rapidly and TIC recently paid a claim to the value of R950 000 for a client with the disease.

Most claims for MVAs are from clients travelling by road in Africa, she adds. “In Songo, Mozambique, a TIC client was involved in an MVA with a 30-ton crane and suffered multiple injuries. He was evacuated and airlifted to a hospital in SA. The claim came to R122 622.”

Eight TIC policy holders were also injured in a bus accident recently while travelling to Butha-Buthe in Lesotho on business.

Independent business travel adviser, Merrill Isherwood, and founder of Merrill’s Travel Company (MTC), says kidnapping is also a high risk in Africa, followed by diseases such as Ebola, microcephaly in infants born to mothers infected by the Zika virus and the risk to people not vaccinated against certain diseases such as measles.

“Business travellers can be targets of opportunists and since they are valuable assets to their organisations, they enable hefty ransom demands.”