Medical cover can protect you financially if you experience a medical emergency. Australia doesn’t have a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with any African countries, so any medical bills you incur will be paid out-of-pocket.
However, most travel insurance providers offer emergency assistance along with cover for hospital bills and medical treatment. With emergency assistance, your insurer will help ensure you receive the medical care you need, even by sending out their own team or arranging for a medical evacuation or repatriation back home to Australia if required.
Adventure awaits those who journey to Africa, from national parks and game reserves to white water rafting. However, not all sports and activities are covered by a standard travel insurance policy, and those that are vary between insurance providers. You can purchase cover for additional activities with an adventure sports add-on.
It’s important to know what is and isn’t covered, as any incidents related to an excluded activity could mean your insurer might not pay for any insurance claims if you require medical assistance.
Assaults, mugging, carjacking and other crimes are common in Africa, with some regions having a higher risk than others according to DFAT’s Smartraveller website.2 While you should take action to protect yourself and your belongings, travel insurance can cover the cost of repairing or replacing stolen and damaged belongings.
Your travel insurance may be able to reimburse your luggage, personal belongings, valuables, credit cards and travel documents up to certain limits depending on your level of cover.
Many countries in Africa may have political conflict, crime or even just normal travel delays (like bad weather) that can disrupt travel plans. If parts or all of your trip is interrupted in some way, your international travel insurance policy may reimburse you for missed accommodation, flights or tours with trip cancellation and delay cover.
For a continent as large as Africa, this depends on where you wish to travel. Countries as such Seychelles, Zambia or South Africa are considered fairly safe to travel to, but there are also countries you should avoid. Check for travel advice on Smartraveller before booking a trip and taking out travel insurance cover, as many travel insurers won’t provide any cover for countries with a high degree of risk and a ‘Do Not Travel’ warning.
There’s also a risk of insect-borne diseases such as malaria, as well as food- or water-borne diseases such as cholera, hepatitis and typhoid. It’s recommended you speak to your medical practitioner about any vaccinations you may need and general advice for avoiding sickness overseas.
Travel insurance companies won’t cover everything. While the exact exclusions will differ based on a policy’s PDS, the following events are generally not covered:
While Africa can be a great holiday destination, it’s important to take precautions to stay safe against crime. Consider the following:
To avoid accidentally offending the locals and learn more about the people you’ll meet, it’s best to brush up on local manners, customs and laws. For example, in countries like Egypt, conservative dress and behaviour are expected.3
Same-sex couples in particular will want to check if the nation they are visiting has any laws that could make being romantic with your partner problematic. Even if there are no specific laws against same-sex activity or relationships, Smartraveller recommends understanding your destination’s customs and be wary of disclosing your LGBTQ+ identity to strangers.4
Not all tour operators will follow proper safety procedures.5 This may include adventure activities like wildlife tours, dolphin diving, ziplining, white water rafting and more. Be sure to ask the operators about safety requirements and gear and choose another operator if you don’t feel safety standards are being met. You should also only participate in tours or activities with licensed tour and operator providers.
1 Smartraveller, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Government. South Africa – Medical care. Last updated November 2022. Accessed January 2023.
2 Smartraveller, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Government. Niger – Safety. Last updated July 2022. Accessed January 2023.
3 Smartraveller, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Government. Egypt – Local customs. Last updated December 2022. Accessed January 2023.
4 Smartraveller, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Government. Advice for LGBTI travellers. Last updated May 2022. Accessed January 2023.
5 Smartraveller, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Government. Zimbabwe – Tours and adventure activities. Last updated November 2022. Accessed January 2023.