What does safari travel insurance actually cover me for?
Are safaris dangerous? What happens if I get eaten by a lion? The chances of that are pretty slim, in fact you're more likely to get eaten by a shark surfing off the coast of Australia - there are 15 attacks and one death a year apparently - but safaris are classified by underwriters as activities and as such carry their own risk. And when you start talking of risk, insurers (or their underwriters) tend to get twitchy. So are safaris any different to any other holiday? What is actually covered by your travel insurance policy?
Are safaris dangerous?
Not inherently so, but there are things to be aware of:
- Wild animals run about freely on safaris. They're not caged or contained so you can look at them in a safe environment. So you need to keep a safe distance away, even from the giraffes!
- Things you can't see can also harm you. Malaria-carrying mosquitoes are prevalent for example. Malaria is the biggest killer in sub-Saharan Africa and in many other places in the world, way ahead of AIDS or famine.
- The tracks and roads are bumpy. That might sound facetious but bad roads can be quite dangerous causing internal injuries and road accidents.
- Activities: the things you do on safari such as elephant riding, canoeing or horse-riding, for example, are all covered. Exclusions may well apply so you should check with your insurance company as some activities are considered more dangerous than others and extra premiums may well be applied.
- Medical and hospitalisation - if you are mauled by that lion or you fall out of the jeep on that bumpy road, you'll be covered for the cost of treating you.
- Baggage - if you lose your luggage or it gets damaged (whilst under your care) you'll be covered.
- Repatriation - if you are very seriously injured, especially in the bush, airlifting you out for emergency hospital treatment can be extremely expensive as is getting you home, potentially in a specialist medicalised aircraft. Travel insurance covers that as well.
- A word about guns: guns are obviously dangerous and will more often than not attract additional premiums. Many travel insurance companies, World First included, will only cover you for self-defence and not for hunting.
What's not covered?
Whilst it is very difficult to generalise, there are some general guidelines to apply. If you were attacked by that lion whilst watching the wildlife, you'd be covered. However, if you were winding the lion (or any other animal) up after a rather well-oiled dinner, you wouldn't be.
It's also worth mentioning that you won't be covered for anything that's remotely drug-related. You don't have to be off your face or just plain stupid to be refused cover though. So apply some common sense. Travel insurance can cover almost anything you do on safari so you can enjoy the great outdoors and watch, film and photograph the wildlife with almost no limits. It truly can be a great experience. The general rule, as with all insurance, is that if you put yourself in danger, then it's your fault and you'll find yourself having to pay up for the consequences.