• Is free medical aid or credit card travel insurance for South Africans adequate?

    Medical Cover Travel insurance guidelines
    ffree medical aid credit card travel insurance

    With our busy lives it is convenient to think that little effort is needed before you’re travel abroad because you have free medical aid or credit card travel insurance. Does your membership of your medical aid or using a certain credit card to purchase your airline ticket really give you adequate cover when you travel abroad compared with travel insurance that you can buy online? Like most things, the detail is in the fine print.

    How long are you travelling?

    Most medical aid or credit card travel insurance will only give 90 days cover so if you are travelling for longer you will not be covered. When you buy travel insurance you can usually buy travel insurance for the duration that you specify.

    Medical cover

    How comprehensive is the Medical cover?

    The amount of cover offered by South African medical aids ranges from 5 million to a maximum of 10 million Rand. In comparison, Travelinsure offers 25 million Rand on its budget cover and 100 million rand on its leisure cover policies.

    Does your medical aid use international medical tariffs or South African?

    It is also very important to check if your medical aid will cover your medical costs at international medical tariffs or at South African tariffs. Many medical aid companies will only provide cover at South African tariffs. What does this mean in real terms? FCO data in the table below shows the average cost of procedure for the three most common health claims abroad namely, ear infection, gastroenteritis and broken bone following a slip or fall.

    If we compare the USA with South Africa in the table, the difference is R217,482. Thus, if you are unlucky enough to require treatment for one of the most common medical claims in the USA and you are relying on your free medical aid or credit card travel insurance that uses a South African tariff, you could be short of cover by R217,000.

    RankCountryAverage cost of a procedure
    5Mainland Greece and minor islandsR115953
    9Spain and islandsR96,294
    11Africa/South AfricaR94,118

    Pre-existing conditions

    Some travel insurance policies cover your for a certain amount of pre-existing conditions. This is often not the case with free medical aid or credit card travel insurance.

    Adventure sports

    Some credit cards and medical aids will not offer cover for adventure sports such as skiing or kite surfing on their policies. It is extremely important to ensure you are covered before you go snow skiing for example. Travelinsure offers excellent cover for snow sport skiing and adventure sports.

    Non medical benefits

    Other important areas of cover are may often not be offered at all by free medical aid or credit card travel insurance policies. These include Repatriation of mortal remains, baggage cover and cancellation and curtailment. In layman’s terms this means that if you die whilst travelling, your loved ones will be responsible for paying for the costs of your remains being returned to South Africa. Not only can this be very expensive, sometimes in excess of R100,000 but the administration bureaucracy involved in releasing a body from a country can be very arduous with some form of assistance especially in time of grieving. If your trip is cancelled or delayed and you cannot travel, will you be covered? If your luggage is lost or stolen do you have some cover? The answer with credit cards and medical aid insurance is mostly that you are not covered.


    Medical aid and credit card cover often come with large excess payments should you need to claim. For example, treatment outside of hospital require $150 excess before treatment can be paid. Travelinsure offer an excess waiver that you can include in your policy if you wish where you will not have to pay any excess.

    When is cover on your card or medical aid activated?

    For credit cards you typically have to pay for your airline tickets with your credit card. If you forget to use your card and instead use another payment option, don’t be fooled into thinking you have cover in place. For medical aids you are often

    Who is covered?

    With many cards and medical aids, the travel insurance policy offered will only apply to the member or cardholder. In comparison on our budget and leisure policies up to 5 dependent children are covered free of charge on the parent’s or guardian’s policy.

    What should you do?

    Do not bet that free medical aid or credit card travel insurance will give you adequate cover.  We always recommend that you read or speak to your travel insurance provider on what you are covered for or read your policy terms and conditions carefully. Buying travel insurance online is cheaper and easier than you think and paying online is secure. It is very easy to select a policy that fits your cover requirements. You are also able to talk to our help desk about what policy is best for you.

Enjoy your travels, worry-free