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By Ellie 29 August 2019

Organising travel insurance is vital for any trip to Africa. In fact, it’s part of Yellow Zebra’s Terms & Conditions (clause 16) that all our clients have it in place before they depart. We’re often asked why, as travel insurance can be viewed as an avoidable extra cost. Please read on to find out why we consider it essential. We’d like to stress that we do not sell travel insurance and don’t profit from our advice – we just want to see our clients covered as well as we believe they ought to be.

Although we cannot recommend any specific policy or provider, on this page we aim to help you identify what to look out for and what to avoid with potential policies. We’ve also suggested a few websites where you can research policies, and we’ve also provided the names of a few companies that we’ve come across over the years. However, please research all the options thoroughly for yourself, as only you know your personal circumstances and what policy will suit you best.

This information is given in good faith but without liability. Every traveler is different and your needs may vary – again, please make sure you research the options thoroughly and purchase the policy that’s right for you.

When to take out travel insurance

It’s best to take out a policy as soon as you have booked your trip. This means that you’re immediately covered for cancellation, although we only insist on the policy being in place before you travel. Please be aware that some policies state you must purchase insurance within a certain period of booking, so it’s always worth checking your specific policy to avoid invalidating your cover.

Medical cover and repatriation

Without doubt, the most important element of travel insurance is medical cover and repatriation. Of course, the vast majority of our clients have a trouble-free trip, but it is far better to be safe than sorry. Our trips take you to remote parts of Africa and it’s vital that, if there is an accident, you have adequate cover to evacuate you to the nearest major hospital for your care, and for medical repatriation to your home country too.

We advise a per person minimum of US$100,000 to cover medical treatment and a minimum of US$250,000 to cover repatriation due to accident or illness. We strongly recommend that you ask your insurer to ensure that you are covered sufficiently for both. Of course, full coverage for medical treatment once you have returned to your home country is absolutely essential too, but it won’t usually be covered by travel insurance.

Extreme sports, walking safaris, microlights, etc.

If you’re planning to take part in sports or other adventurous activities during your trip, we recommend that your policy covers you for any injuries sustained as a result of these activities.

Loss of valuables, personal liability, legal expenses

Your policy should include cover for loss of any valuable items, as well as personal liability, legal expenses, and cancellations abroad, and any delays at your point of departure, whether you are outward or homeward bound.

Pre-existing illnesses

Please seek advice from an insurance broker if necessary to ensure that your policy covers any pre-existing illnesses.

Cancellation

How much does travel insurance cost, and where can I compare policies?

The cost of travel insurance varies, based on your personal circumstances and if you have any pre-existing health conditions. We cannot legally advise clients on which policies are best, nor can we recommend any specific travel insurance companies or policies. However, to get an idea of where to begin your research, please take a look at the following companies that we’ve come across:

Please note that we cannot take any responsibility for information provided on a third-party website.

For US residents

  • For US residents, some advice is available on the US State Department website.
  • Our US clients have in the past purchased insurance through large and well-known companies such as AIG Travel Guard, American Express, Allianz, Travelex, and AXA travel insurance.
  • US travelers might also like to consider contacting UK-based insurance companies that offer cover to people based anywhere in the world – please see our section below on insurance for residents of any country.


For Canadian residents

  • For Canadian residents, some advice is available on the website for the Government of Canada.
  • A number of our previous Canadian clients have in the past purchased insurance through Manulife, TuGo, and Allianz Global Assistance.
  • Canadian travelers might like to consider contacting UK-based insurance companies that offer cover to people based anywhere in the world – please see our section below on insurance for residents of any country.


Insurers that will cover residents of any country

It used to be the case that all travellers had to be insured by a company based in their home country. But today there’s a handful of insurance companies that cover travellers no matter where in the world they live. For some clients, these companies offer much better value policies than those available in their home country. Insurers we have come across include:

  • Journeyman Services, a long-standing travel insurance company offering policies underwritten by AXA, to travellers of any nationality and any home country.
  • Worldwide Global Travel Insurance, which also offers a policy to people based anywhere in the world, travelling to anywhere in the world.

Some frequently asked questions:

My policy states that I have to pay any medical costs myself and reclaim the costs once I’ve returned home. Is that okay?
There are a few issues with this ‘pay and claim’ approach. The most obvious is that, if you were to have a serious accident, medical evacuation and hospital bills could run into the tens of thousands of dollars. Repatriation would cost hundreds of thousands, which would be very difficult to self-fund. And if an accident is incapacitating, even actioning payment would be very challenging for you. So we suggest opting for a policy in which the insurance company pays direct for any costs on your behalf.

Does my health insurance cover my safari? (This question is often most relevant to travellers from the USA.)
US health insurance premiums sometimes cover clients for their trips overseas. We cannot comment on these policies, but we advise clients to contact their existing insurers for health cover and to consider additional insurance to protect against the risk of loss or cancellation. Please note, if you do not have a policy to cover any of the events mentioned above, you are at risk of incurring considerable costs. Repatriation home, for example, can cost a huge amount of money. We cannot be held responsible for any of these costs.

My credit card includes travel insurance – is that enough?
Not usually! It is essential to check that you’re satisfied with the amount of coverage included. Please contact your credit card company to verify what is and what isn’t covered. Remember, a good insurance policy involves getting you home in an emergency and also provides a minimum of US$100,000 medical cover while you are in Africa. A lot of credit card insurance does not provide adequate cover and falls short of the figures mentioned above (see MEDICAL COVER AND REPATRIATION).

Is medical coverage provided by national social insurance programmes or national healthcare systems in my country of residence valid in Africa?
National social insurance programmes, such as Medicare, and national healthcare systems, like the NHS, are unlikely to provide you with medical coverage. Please contact the relevant authority for further information.

I have private health insurance – is that enough?
It is unlikely that your private health insurance policy will provide you with adequate coverage. Please speak to your health insurance company about what is covered.

Can I buy travel insurance from Yellow Zebra Safaris?
No, Yellow Zebra does not sell insurance.

Why is Yellow Zebra asking for my travel insurance details?
In the event of an emergency, Yellow Zebra and our suppliers will need to have access to the name of your travel insurer, policy number, and 24-hour emergency/claims number. We can then provide this information to emergency services so that you can receive the necessary treatment without delay.

I have already paid in full, so do I still need travel insurance?
It is a condition of booking with Yellow Zebra that you organise specialist travel insurance to cover your entire trip. Unfortunately, some clients have had to cancel prior to travel due to unforeseen circumstances, and because they had not yet taken out travel insurance they were unable to recoup their booking costs. Moreover, there have been cases of our clients being taken ill whilst in Africa and requiring treatment. We cannot stress enough how important it is for us to have your travel insurance details to hand, in order for us to assist you as quickly and efficiently as possible, should anything like this happen to you.

I’ve found a policy. Please can someone at Yellow Zebra review it with me?
Unfortunately, no – due to legal reasons we cannot review any insurance policy. It’s best that you contact the insurance company and review it with them, as they will have better knowledge of the policies they sell.

What if I don’t want insurance?
Arranging insurance is a condition of booking travel with Yellow Zebra and if you do not take out a travel insurance policy we reserve the right to cancel your holiday as per our Terms & Conditions.

And lastly!

As is always the case, make sure you read the fine print of any policy! Unfortunately, we have known cases where clients had thought they were fully covered but had bought a policy that was not as good as it should be.