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Avoiding World Cup nightmares for travellers

04 June 2010 09:10

With just a week to go until South Africa welcomes football fans from around the world, travel insurance companies are urging travellers to make sure they have adequate travel insurance cover for their stay.

Whenever and wherever you travel, the right travel insurance should be a must.  The recent volcanic ash disruption has encouraged more people to check their travel insurance policies for cover but still not everyone is taking out insurance before they travel.

South Africa is a popular destination, but never more so than this summer.  Many thousands of travellers are expected to head there to see World Cup matches being played in stadiums across the country.

No matter where you travel there are always risks and travellers are given general advice about looking after personal belongings and not putting themselves at danger.  South Africa does present travellers with some additional risks as does the World Cup. 

Some areas within South Africa do have a reputation for high crime and although the government has cracked down and taken a harder line on this sort of activity over the past six months in the build up to the World Cup, it could present travellers with a higher risk than other destinations.

With so many people concentrated into small areas and the excitement, buzz and general atmosphere of football matches can lead to disorder and potential hazards.

Travellers in need of medical assistance in South Africa should be aware that there are two levels of healthcare and treatment.  Much of the treatment is private, apart from the very basic services offered by the state and charities for the poor rural and urban black population.

Treatment provided by these clinics and hospitals is of a very low level and HIV and hepatitis is routinely cross infected with blood and blood products.  Needles are usually used until they are blunt, which of course is another way of catching a serious or even life threatening infection.   No nursing or food is provided and drugs and medication are often scarce if available at all.  In short you would not want to end up relying on this as an option.

In stark contrast,  the private hospitals are as good as any in Europe and offer medicine at a very sophisticated  standard,  but of course the bill at the end, while not being as  expensive as the USA for example, would still amount to a serious figure.  These hospitals are only available in areas and cities with large white populations.  

To ensure you’re not faced with a hefty bill after receiving medical treatment it is essential to get a travel insurance policy that covers you.

World First Travel Insurance has been insuring travellers for almost 40 years and they have given their top tips for staying safe and enjoying your time in South Africa.

  1. As with any large scale event, ensure your valuables are kept safe in a money belt, or under clothing;
  2. If you hire a car make sure you keep the doors locked and valuables out of sight at all times as car-jacking and ‘smash and grab’ incidents are not unusual in South Africa;
  3. Remove any personal belongings from your car overnight. Most travel insurance policies will not cover you for items stolen from a vehicle between the hours of 8pm and 8am;
  4. Be careful when it comes to buying food, avoid street food stalls as many are unhygienic and have health risks;
  5. HIV and AIDS are extremely widespread in South Africa.  Be aware of this in all environments but in particular ensure you use protection if you have sexual intercourse.  Your travel insurance policy won’t cover you if you contract an illness of this type;
  6. Make sure your policy covers you for the extras you might take part in, like scuba diving or cage diving with sharks;
  7. Travellers are advised to take reasonable care of themselves and their possessions, especially whilst drinking. Any accident caused whilst under the influence of drink or drugs may invalidate the policy;
  8. Check your policy details for the cover for personal possessions and baggage.  Most insurers will not cover you for the loss or theft of football match tickets so make sure you keep them safe;
  9. Avoid areas that are poorly lit in the evenings, where possible try to stay on main streets and with groups of people, avoid going out alone;
  10. Most importantly, make sure you take out adequate travel insurance to cover you if something does go wrong and be sure to carry your policy details and claim numbers with you – just in case.

World First Travel Insurance offer single trip travel insurance policies priced from £7* and annual cover from £18*.  Visit for more details.

*Premiums and availability of cover may vary depending on individual circumstances and eligibility