What is the best travel insurance for South Africa?

A deep dive into the best travel medical insurance for South Africa. Everything you need to choose travel medical insurance for South Africa.

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Table of Contents


As with any trip, choosing the best travel insurance for South Africa is vital. As someone who has now visited South Africa six times, often for extended periods of time, I’d say I know it fairly well! We’ve now pretty much visited every area of the country and know it better than most!

South Africa is a beautiful country with so many incredible things to offer. Still, the number one question people visiting South Africa ask us: is it safe? Well, we did our utmost to answer this question in this article, and like we said, it’s all relative. The fact of the matter is that you can do everything right and something could still go wrong.

Enter: travel insurance.

The best friend EVERY traveller hopes they’ll never have to rely on. Unfortunately, situations do arise where travel medical insurance is necessary. As travel agents, we have definitely learned the value of choosing amazing travel insurance for everywhere you visit and ensuring it suits your needs.

So it’s important to look first at what exactly you need.

This article may contain affiliate links. There is no additional cost to you and they are often discounted, but we may receive a small commission if you use them to book.

A family of elephants walking through the African savannah. Choosing insurance that covers safari is important for choosing the best travel insurance for Aouth Africa
Elephants on safari – does your insurance cover you?

Is travel insurance mandatory for South Africa?

Travel insurance is not mandatory for most countries, however it’s extremely important to have it, just in case.

It’s super important to be covered for any eventuality when travelling, as you just never know what might come up. As with any country, it’s possible that you could encounter some problems in South Africa and may need to have help from an insurance provider.

Travel insurance can help you in the following situations:

  • Getting sick unexpectedly abroad*. This is in case you need to spend money on medical care, transfer home unexpectedly or pay for hospital bills.
  • Delays to your travel – for example if you end up spending time overnight somewhere and need to pay. Note: cancellation PRIOR to your trip should usually be covered by the terms and conditions of your travel provider (such as an airline or hotel). If your travel is cancelled by the travel provider without reasonable alternative, you should be refunded in full. If you need to cancel your travel through no fault of your own and the travel provider has restrictive terms and conditions, some travel insurers may cover you
  • Curtailment. This means, essentially, needing to cut your trip short for unexpected reasons. Most insurance providers will help you out with this. This also applies to evacuation in case of political unrest or other emergencies.
  • Luggage and valuables – if you loose your baggage or you have something stolen, you can turn to a travel insurance provider. You need to check each valuable is covered before claiming.

*NOTE: pre-existing medical conditions will not be covered, unless you have declared these when purchasing your insurance.

Murray is taking a selfie of him and Emma walking over a bridge in South Africa. They look excited and nervous as they are about to do a bungee jump
About to do a bungee jump in South Africa – not gonna lie guys, this was terrifying!

What to consider when looking for good travel medical insurance?

Well, a few things. As travel agents, we’ve sold many insurance brands and know a few things you need to watch for so you don’t get caught out. Here are some things it’s really important to check before buying.

  1. A low excess. If you don’t know what an excess is, it’s basically the amount of money you pay when you claim for something before the insurance provider will step in. So, for example, if you pay £32 for medical bills and your insurance excess is £100, you’ll be the person paying that £32. If you pay £132, the insurance provider will reimburse you the £32, since you went over your excess. The lower your excess is, the less you need to worry.
  2. Coverage on anything you might need. Of course, it’s really hard to know what might happen when you’re travelling, but if you KNOW there’s a certain thing you might encounter, it needs to be covered. A great example of this: if you visit South Africa, you’re probably going to do a safari. Therefore the best travel insurance for South Africa will cover safaris, otherwise it’s not a good choice!
  3. Consider whether you need multi-trip or single trip. Multi-trip insurance is usually an annual policy. It will cover you for trips up to a certain duration. If you go over that duration and you have an annual policy, unfortunately your policy is probably not valid. For this, you need to purchase single-trip insurance for the full duration of your time away. Long trips can get expensive, but luckily we know some providers who can help with that!
  4. Clear wording! This is such a big thing. Insurance companies can make things so complicated because, ultimately, they don’t want you to claim. A good travel medical insurance
  5. Your age and any pre-existing medical conditions. If you’re over a certain age threshold and you have existing conditions, unfortunately your travel insurance will usually be more expensive. It’s better to declare it, since you won’t be covered if you don’t, and that could be much more expensive if you’re unlucky and need help while you’re away! The best travel insurance for most people might not be the best travel insurance for older travellers.

What do you need to look out for specifically when choosing the best travel insurance for South Africa?

When visiting South Africa, like many other African countries, you need to ensure you are covered for certain things you might not need cover for elsewhere. Things to look out for:

  1. Does your travel medical insurance cover tropical diseases? For example, Malaria, yellow fever, dengue. Some policies have exceptions for these illnesses.
  2. Does your travel medical insurance cover adventure activities, such as safaris or bungee jumps/skydiving (if you are considering an activity like this!)
  3. What about driving? Most South Africa itineraries require some driving, so you need to make sure your travel insurance will actually cover you for this
  4. Valuable coverage – including theft and breakage. For example, does your insurance cover electronics? And does it cover every part of your valuables (e.g. cameras, lenses, smartphones not just your camera)

So let’s dive in, which is the best travel insurance for South Africa?

Murray is sitting about to do a bungee jump in South Africa wearing a harness. He looks terrified but excited
Adventure sports is Murray’s favourite thing! All ready for the bungee.

1. SafetyWing Travel Medical Insurance

Best travel insurance for: Long term travellers, adventure seekers, and travellers under 40 (though they also cover older travellers). We would consider SafetyWing the overall best travel insurance for South Africa.

We actually use SafetyWing nomad insurance for our own trips and like we said, do consider it the best travel insurance for South Africa overall. OK so what makes it a great choice?

  1. It’s extremely easy to understand the policy wording. You can gather pretty much all of the information you need from a quick glance at their major points. If you need more, you can read the full policy wording in a very simplified and digestible format.
  2. They cover the basic activities you would need for South Africa (like safaris, camping, swimming etc.) and have a very easy to understand adventure sports add-on you can purchase. This will give you cover for additional activities such as sky-diving, white water rafting, quad biking etc.
  3. They have a $0 deductible excess, which means, if you need to claim, it’ll all be covered.
  4. They are perfect for nomads, volunteers and long-term adventurers, as you can even purchase your insurance while you’re already travelling (this is really rare!), and the prices are very reasonable for long-stay trips. Additionally, SafetyWing allow you to return home without interrupting your insurance cover. This is a great little add on for long term travellers and digital nomads.
  5. They have an electronics add-on that is very easy to use. This covers the main tech equipment including cameras, lenses and smartphones. They also cover stolen valuables such as drones, and this was really important to us!

Overall, we would consider SafetyWing the best travel insurance for South Africa, even if you’re not a nomad, because of the ease of use and activities they cover. You can book your policy here or try their easy price calculator below.

Hippos in a river in South Africa. Some are submerged and one is walking into the river.
A safari is a once in a lifetime experience – make sure your insurance covers you!

2. Saga Travel Insurance

Best travel insurance for: older travellers, travellers with pre-existing medical conditions over 50

Saga has long been known as the best travel insurance for older travellers, and we probably have to agree. Here are the reasons why:

  1. No upper age limit on their policy. Saga specialise in travel insurance for older travellers, so you can be covered at any age. They do have a lower age limit of 50 years old.
  2. Their cover for existing medical conditions is very comprehensive, and it’s easy to add on a condition for a good value price.
  3. They are much great for annual multi-trips (i.e. several small trips each year) which is more common amongst older travellers.
  4. They do cover safaris, as well as trekking to a certain altitude and hiking, so they also make a good choice for South Africa.

We do not personally consider them to be the best travel insurance for South Africa for every traveller because their policy wording is a bit more complex. They are also specialised to older travellers over 50. As mentioned though, they are perfect for older travellers and do cover all of the main bases you need to consider. You can book them here.

Murray in mid-air taken with a GoPro. He is upside down and loving it!
When you have a husband who’s obsessed with adventure sports… you start to learn how much you need travel insurance!!

3. Visitors Coverage

Best travel insurance for: those seeking insurance with sustainability in mind

We like Visitors Coverage for a few reasons. Though we will say we don’t think they’re as easy to use as SafetyWing or as good for older travellers as Saga, they’re a happy medium between the two. So here’s what we like:

  1. They cover all types of travellers and have a range of plans to choose from. This means you can work out what is best for you. There are a LOT of plans to choose from so if you’re not sure what you need, this could potentially be a bit overwhelming, but it’s great that they have options.
  2. They have some great some great green initiatives on their page and seem to be thinking with the planet in mind. As responsible travellers, of course this is important for us and something we’d love to see other insurance providers doing. You can check their initiatives here.
  3. They’re great for US travellers (or those visiting the US). For US travellers visiting South Africa, they have lots of options for your medical bills.

Again, we find their policy wording a little confusing and for that reason we prefer SafetyWing, but they have some great benefits. You can book them here.

4. The Post Office

Best travel insurance for: families from the UK

The Post Office unfortunately only operate in the UK, but they are a great choice for families visiting South Africa. Anyone travelling with their kids knows what a nightmare it is when they get sick or injured. Since many young children aren’t allowed on safaris and the entry requirements for entering South Africa with children are quite intense, people with families sometimes get left out of considerations for travel to South Africa. Of course, older children can go on safari and it’s not difficult to get into the country if you follow the rules, so I say it’s about time they got a look in!

Here’s why we like the Post Office for families:

  1. They specifically offer travel insurance for under 18s, and any dependent, whether a genetic child, adopted, fostered or grandchild
  2. They’re great for helping with people who need more hands on support and have questions. They are especially helpful if people are not sure they are receiving the right medical help etc. and this can be really important with children
  3. An extra feather in their cap for us is that they cover drone breakage. So if your drone breaks, they’ll sort you out!

You can book the Post Office travel insurance in branch or here.

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Post written by Emma Cartwright


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