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Compare travel insurance for South Africa

With its stunning landscapes, impressive wildlife and buzzing cities, South Africa is a one-of-a-kind holiday destination. Here’s what you should know about finding the right travel insurance for your trip.

With its stunning landscapes, impressive wildlife and buzzing cities, South Africa is a one-of-a-kind holiday destination. Here’s what you should know about finding the right travel insurance for your trip.

Written by
Anna McEntee
Home, pet and travel insurance expert
Last Updated
7 MARCH 2023
5 min read
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Do I need travel insurance for South Africa? 

It’s not compulsory but definitely advisable. South Africa has a high crime rate, so you’ll want to make sure your personal belongings are covered while you’re out there. You’ll also want to make sure you’re protected if you fall sick or have an accident and need to come home.

Customers with pre-existing medical conditions

If you have a serious health condition, your travel insurance is likely to be more expensive. Whatever happens, don’t lie to an insurance provider, because this could mean your claim is rejected. When you declare any medical conditions on our website, we’ll only show you quotes from insurance providers who will cover them, with no exclusions.

If your condition is more serious, MoneyHelper has a directory of insurance providers who may be able to provide quotes over the phone. You can call them on 0800 138 7777.

How much is travel insurance for South Africa? 

How much you pay for your travel insurance to South Africa will depend on factors including:

  • Your age
  • Any pre-existing medical conditions
  • What you’re planning to do on the trip 
  • How long you’re going away for.

You’ll need to pay more if you’re planning to take part in high-risk activities like sky diving or rock climbing. You might even find that some policies don’t include these kinds of activities at all. If that’s the case, you may have to seek out additional cover, such as adventure travel insurance.

What will South Africa travel insurance cover? 

You typically want your travel insurance to cover: 

  • Medical care – the UK doesn’t have a healthcare arrangement in place with South Africa. That means if you need medical treatment out there, you’ll have to pay for it yourself. South Africa has an excellent private healthcare system, but it can be expensive. So you’ll need to make sure your cover includes enough protection to cover emergency treatment and get you back to the UK for emergency treatment, if necessary.
  • Damage, loss and theft of luggage – theft and petty crime can be a problem for tourists, particularly in cities, so you’ll want to make sure that your belongings are properly covered. If your luggage is stolen, your insurance should cover the cost of replacing clothes, tech and other belongings. If you plan to take expensive gadgets or jewellery with you, be sure to check how much your policy will pay out for a single item and add extra cover if you need to.
  • Cancellation cover – this can protect you if you need to cancel or cut short your holiday (as long as the reason is listed in your policy). For example, if you get too sick to travel or you’re called for jury service, you could claim back the money you’ve spent. It’s a good idea to arrange your travel insurance as soon as you book your trip, so you have this cover in place right away.
  • Flight cancellations and delays – insurance will help soften the blow of cancelled or delayed flights. If you have a connecting flight, you’ll want to make sure you’re covered if you miss that too.

What won’t South Africa travel insurance cover? 

Depending on the policy you go for, you may find there are certain exclusions, including:

  • Pre-existing medical conditions – you’ll need to declare these when you buy your policy, otherwise your claim could be invalid.
  • Extreme sports – South Africa is a great place to try adventure sports like bungee jumping, shark-cage diving and kiteboarding. But you’ll need to add them to your policy, as cover for adventure activities may not come as standard.
  • Events such as terrorism, natural disasters and civil unrest – South Africa can be prone to floods and wildfires and is no stranger to political unrest. Although you’d have to be pretty unlucky to find yourself involved in anything like this. Depending on your level of cover, you may not be covered against these things.

What else should I consider when I choose my travel insurance?

Before you choose your policy, make sure you’ve considered the following:

How much cover do you actually need?

The cost of replacing everything from your suitcase to your toiletries can add up. So make sure you have enough cover. If you’re taking expensive tech with you, you might want to consider travel insurance with gadget cover.

Is it worth getting an annual policy?

If you travel a lot, you could save money by getting an annual policy. And that way you don’t have to remember to renew it next time you go away.

Do you have cover for all your activities?

Planning an action-packed trip? Make sure your policy includes the cover you need for what you want to do, whether that’s water sports, safari, extreme sports or just a round or two of golf. You should be able to add cover to your policy or find a specialist policy to cover your activities.

Do I need a visa for South Africa? 

British passport holders can visit South Africa for up to three months without a visa. The UK government advises that you should have at least six months left on your passport when you travel. Your passport should also have at least two blank pages when you present it at South African immigration.

More details about the entry requirements for South Africa can be found on the GOV.UK website, including rules on COVID-19 vaccines and testing.

Do I need vaccinations to go to South Africa?

NHS Fit for Travel suggests getting vaccinated for diphtheria and hepatitis A. It suggests you also consider hepatitis B, rabies, tetanus and typhoid. Some vaccinations, including tetanus and typhoid, are typically free on the NHS.

Any other travel tips for South Africa? 

If you’re visiting South Africa any time soon, here are a few things to think about:

  • Safety – the government’s website has information on safety and security in the country. Take precautions while you travel, such as avoiding large gatherings and keeping valuables out of sight
  • Tipping – it’s standard practice to tip and 10%​ to 20% will be appreciated
  • Time difference – South Africa is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
  • Currency – the country uses the South African rand.

Frequently asked questions

What’s the best time to visit South Africa?

November-March is summer in South Africa, so it’s a good time to visit if you want some sun. June-October is better if you want a cheaper holiday , but keep in mind that June-August is winter in South Africa.

How long are flights to South Africa from the UK?

A flight from London Heathrow to Johannesburg takes around 11 hours while Cape Town is 11 hours 30 minutes.

Where can I compare travel insurance quotes? 

We’re here to help you find the right travel insurance at the right price. Whether you’re going on an adventure-filled road trip or a family holiday, we’ll help you compare quotes to get the peace of mind you need.

Anna McEntee - Insurance expert

Anna’s all about delivering fantastic insurance products at a great price. Value is the most important thing for Anna, as she cuts through the jargon and finds what’s most important and worth your hard-earned money.

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