You should probably buy Covid insurance before you travel


  • Travel insurance may be something of a grudge purchase, but it can be valuable if your trip doesn’t go to plan.
  • Although many insurance companies have excluded Covid-19 related expenses from their policies, some now cover a few basic costs such as quarantine and cancellations due to the pandemic.
  • They’re also not particularly expensive, and include other more traditional travel insurance benefits.
  • One week of coverage will likely cost you in the region of R500.
  • Here’s how three options in South Africa compare.
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International travel remains difficult for South Africans, but it’s not an impossibility. Several mostly African countries have kept their borders open to travellers with negative PCR tests in hand – and the low tourism numbers mean many travel-dependent businesses are offering some really good deals.

But even as travel slowly starts to reopen for some, certain risks remain – particularly in the event that you contract Covid-19 after paying for or midway through a trip. 

In the immediate aftermath of Covid-19 travel cancellations, many insurance companies moved quickly to distance themselves from any claims that arose from cancellations or quarantines. But there are now at least three insurance companies in South Africa that will partially insure you against some or all of the costs associated with Covid-19 and travel – be it a trip cancellation, hospital treatment abroad, or an extended quarantine in a foreign hotel.

Even at the best of times travel insurance policies are laden with terms and conditions, but this is even more of a reality with those that include Covid-19 coverage. 

Many policies won’t cover travellers for Covid-related expenses if they are over a certain age, have co-morbidities, or a body mass index above a certain level, for example.

Picking a travel insurance company that includes Covid-19 coverage is therefore complex – and requires a deep reading of the terms and conditions to find those that best suit your particular journey. But Business Insider South Africa found at least three companies that are willing to offset some of the costs associated with things like mandatory quarantines and cancellations. And for a week-long trip, these won’t typically cost more than R500.

The prices quoted in our comparison use a scenario of a single traveller under the age of 70, taking a trip in the first week of August, and purchasing out the most comprehensive package available. A change in any of these conditions may result in higher charges or no policy being available.

Here’s how three travel insurance companies in South Africa compare when it comes to Covid-19 coverage.

TIC provides some cover for Covid-19 related expenses – but will not cover you in the event of trip cancellation, curtailment or postponement due to the pandemic.

TIC will, however, cover medical expenses related to contracting Covid-19 while travelling, up to the maximum in the policy bought; on their most comprehensive package this coverage is up to R100 million.

They will also pay towards quarantine accommodation, either the lesser cost of either 3-star quarantine accommodation or R2,500 per day, to a maximum of R25,000. This is the highest benefit in this regard that Business Insider SA was able to find locally.

The company will also cover economy class travel expenses to a maximum stated in the policy document in the event of quarantine.

TIC’s Leisure Comprehensive insurance package for one week starts at R545.

Allianz provides Covid-19 cover for certain related expenses under all of its policies, although coverage does not extend to cancellation or curtailment relating to Covid-19. 

Allianz’s Travel Extra Cover is its most comprehensive Covid-19 package. This includes R10 million in emergency medical and associated expenses, and R15,000 (less an excess of R1,000) towards 10 days of quarantine accommodation. 

Allianz’s Travel Extra insurance package for one week starts at R271.

Hollard covers some Covid-19 expenses in most of its packages – and it’s one of the few that offers cancellation and curtailment cover in the event that you test positive prior to departure.

Their policy does have strict exclusion clauses, however. They do not, for example, cover people older than 66, those with a body mass index of 35 or higher, or those with a combination of diabetes and either high blood pressure or cholesterol.

Their most comprehensive Covid-19 package includes coverage for medical costs as a result of illness caused by infectious diseases of up to R100 million and R50 million for in-hospital expenses.

Mandatory quarantine accommodation must be booked or cleared through Hollard, and their most expensive package will cover this to a maximum of R15,000.

If you are forced to quarantine after testing positive prior to departure, Hollard will pay out up to R60,000 towards losses incurred, such as airline tickets and accommodation, on its most expensive package.

Hollard will also pay R2,000 towards the cost of a Covid test when positive, and if a city is isolated due to an outbreak of Covid-19 they’ll pay 75% of the loss incurred, to a maximum of R10,000.

Hollard’s Covid-19 travel insurance package for one week starts at R450.

Here’s how the three travel insurance options compare:

Covid-19 travel insurance

Covid-19 Travel Insurance Comparisons

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