During this week’s governmental briefing on the reopening of South Africa’s borders a sweeping statement was made that travellers may only enter South Africa if they are in possession of travel insurance to cover the cost of COVID-19 tests and quarantine costs. Local insurers have responded with outrage to this statement saying that government has fundamentally misunderstood how insurance works and is creating a situation that makes travel impossible.

“I nearly fell off my chair when I heard the ministerial briefing mandating that travellers may only enter the country if they are in possession of travel insurance to cover the cost of COVID-19 testing and quarantine costs,” said Uriah Jansen, MD of Oojah Travel Protection Insurance which administers Hollard Travel Insurance.

“The government has not conferred with the travel insurance industry at all over this and has got its facts wrong about what travel insurance covers. As a general rule, travel insurance products around the world do not cover elective or government-regulated testing or quarantine costs.”

Head of Travel Insurance at TIC, Jason Veitch, agreed explaining that insurance worked on the premise of uncertainty of an event occurring and that there was no way that a R400 (€20.46) insurance policy could be expected to cover mandated government testing requirements and quarantine costs for a known event.

“It appears that the government has made these unilateral decisions in an attempt to pass the costs relating to their testing and quarantine regulations on to a third party without engaging with the sellers of insurance about what their policies cover. As insurers are under no obligation to take on this level of risk the government is creating a situation where it is impossible to travel to South Africa,” said Veitch.

The ministerial briefing mentioned that travel insurance would be required for travellers to visit South Africa.