The adventure market is one of the fastest growing sectors in the African tourism industry, with a multitude of activities offered to travellers visiting the continent.

But with adventure activities comes the risk of injury, and travel sellers need to ensure that their customers are not only correctly educated on the importance of taking out appropriate travel insurance, but that they choose operators that have the correct cover and incident management solutions to manage a situation should it arise. Tourism is a tricky space and without specialist attention things can go horribly wrong.

Andre du Toit, Executive Head – New Business Development of SATIB, says travellers will often purchase ineffective travel insurance either themselves or through travel sellers who are not up to speed with what a policy may have to respond to or what cover limits may be required to evacuate someone to the most appropriate medical facility. As a result, complications arise where travellers are left without appropriate cover, poor response/evacuation options and will often look to the operator to meet the gap, which can stretch into tens of thousands of rands. It is not uncommon to find huge delays in trying to connect with travel insurance call centres and this is not ideal in emergency situations. With a clear duty of care lying with the adventure operator this can often be a tricky situation…even if the injury is not their fault, but there are options for both the traveller and the operator that can and should be considered.

The adventure tourism community has a duty of care to all travellers and a responsible operator will align with a brand upfront, that specialises in insurance for travellers and operators, knows the ins and outs of ‘small print’ – inclusions, exclusions, cover limits and sub-limits – and, very importantly, has the correct expertise to assist you when the paw-paw hits the fan!

“SATIB, for example, has bespoke Evacuation Cover and Incident Management Centre that guarantees immediate response by a team who takes control of the situation from the first call, designs an incident action plan, co-ordinates multiple resources to ensure the best possible outcome. Most importantly they shoulder liability from that point on. The average emergency assistance company does not offer the full incident management service that is so important in this industry. Beyond the primary concern of best medical attention, we must deal with social media, reputational damage, possible legal action and the logistics around accommodation for travelling partners and, dare I say it, repatriation and embassies. The average insurance company isn’t geared towards the multi-faceted nature of travel and the expected levels of care. If not handled correctly, it could affect not only the travel operator and agents, but the brand African Tourism” says Du Toit.

It does not replace the need for travellers to buy their own travel insurance, particularly when embarking on adventure activities, and I truly believe this should be a compulsory purchase, however we can’t necessarily make these demands. Perhaps a helpful place to start from a travel insurance perspective is to share the following guidelines for a visitor to South Africa:

  • Declare all activities and ask insurers to confirm in writing that they are not specifically excluded.
  • Emergency medical assistance service provider (24h call centre for help).
  • Emergency medical expenses including pre-existing medical conditions cover: minimum R10m (€628 960).
  • Medical evacuation and repatriation – included in the above.
  • Return of mortal remains – limit of R500 000 (€31 448).
  • Public/personal liability – limit R10m (€628 960) – damage to property /injury to persons.
  • Personal accident – victims of motor accidents/assaults etc – R100 000 (€6 290) death and R100 000 (€6 290) disability benefits.