Travel insurance is crucial for professionals embracing remote work and travel

Home » Travel insurance is crucial for professionals embracing remote work and travel

There has been a significant surge in remote working since the pandemic upended workforce dynamics across the world. With an army of professionals now unshackled from the office, many professionals are working for international organisations and receiving their salaries in different currencies. These professionals saw a salary increase of up to 40% in the last year alone, due to the exchange rate fluctuations.

While other professionals have taken up opportunities to work abroad for longer periods of time. But increased travel brings increased risk, elevating the need for adequate travel insurance – particularly for health emergencies.

Medical scheme Profmed has seen a sharp rise in international travel from its members, noting that more professionals are travelling while working compared to pre-covid conditions. This is why Profmed has extended its travel benefit to span 150 days rather than the previous 90 days.

According to Craig Comrie, CEO of Profmed Medical Scheme, “Health insurance when travelling usually comes at significant cost when staying for longer than 90 days as the possibility of unexpected health-related events increase the longer the stay. People are often more concerned with minor issues which could be paid for out of pocket. The real benefit of South Africa in general is that even though our healthcare here feels unaffordable we note the recent medical events that have been incurred where even basic radiology in Italy cost the scheme almost R200 000 for a scan which in South Africa is around R 8 000. This highlights the need for proper health travel cover,” Comrie says.

He says one of the most significant benefits of health travel insurance is for medical emergencies. Accidents and illnesses can happen anytime and being in a foreign country can make it challenging to access medical care. “With the right health travel insurance, individuals can receive medical assistance without worrying about the high costs of medical treatment. In an event of an emergency, it is critical to notify Profmed as early as possible as this allows an expert team, familiar with international treatment protocols to intervene early in assisting members to get appropriate treatment at the right cost”

For instance, he says Profmed’s travel benefit covers scholastic travellers, senior travellers, families, and individual travellers. The travel benefit includes medical evacuation, expenses, preparation, mitigation, and unlimited 24/7 assistance. From January 2022 to January 2023, Profmed recorded 181 cases of overseas claims, with 16% classified as extremely serious.

Profmed member Chris Barry’s story is a testament to the importance of having travel cover in a foreign land. In August 2022, Barry and a group of friends travelled to Ponta du Oura in Mozambique for their annual kit surfing experience. However, Barry got into a serious accident this time, needing medical assistance in Mozambique. Due to the severity of the injury, Barry had to be airlifted back to South Africa.

“Once I got back to South Africa, they did some X-rays and decided to operate on my right leg that afternoon,” says Barry. “They also found a tissue sarcoma which caused the weakness in the bone, which ultimately caused the fracture.”

Sadly, this wasn’t the only thing Barry had to endure. “When I returned to the hospital in November, they decided to extract sarcoma tissue and replace my knee, femur, and hip. I’m bionic now, and I’m always doing preventative radiation.”

Speaking about the role travel protection and travel medical plans played during his journey Barry says, “While I was in the hospital, the thought of who’s picking up these medical bills did cross my mind. But thankfully, all my interactions with Profmed across multiple operations were seamless, and my life was saved because of it.”

Comrie says traveling can be a rewarding experience, but true peace of mind abroad comes with the right travel insurance at your back. “It is essential to carefully consider the coverage options and choose a plan that best suits individual needs and the availability of quality care available in the country you are visiting before embarking on a grand adventure,” he concludes.