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Travel Advice   |   Independent Travellers
Information & Advice:
Prior to your visit to The Gambia it is strongly recommended you at least take out a Single Journey Travel Insurance Policy to cover you against risk of illness, injury, theft or loss. It is possible to get medical cover only; however there is usually little difference in the price for such policies covering West Africa.

A good holiday insurance policy should cover flight delays and cancellations, loss of luggage, documents, belongings, and money up to set limits, emergency medical treatment and/or international medical evacuation.

If you are a frequent visitor to The Gambia or intend to visit various countries throughout the year on holiday or business then you should think about getting a comprehensive Worldwide Annual Multi Trip Travel Insurance, as these policies often attract a lower rate per trip, can work out cheaper if you are travelling more than two or three times a year and sometimes offer holiday cancellation cover. If you plan to take a trip with your family or a group you may find that it is more cost effective to purchase group or family cover.

An Expat Insurance Policy will generally cover the duration of your stay and can be purchased from several months to an annual basis. If you live in The Gambia throughout most of the year then it might be a good idea to ensure that you get your premiums paid by direct debit in case you are in the country at the time your plan expires. It is important to get an International Health Insurance policy from a reputable company with plans customised for expatriates such as BUPA Global (UK), AXA PPP International (UK), Clements Worldwide (US) and Cigna (US).

If you are coming to The Gambia on a long stay then consider the option of Long Trip Travel Insurance which can cover you anywhere from 3 months up to 18 months. This is best for example if you are visiting family and friends, are on a short work contract or on extended leave and don't often visit the country. Some providers will offer the option of being able to go back to your country of residence on a short visit, for example 2 weeks, and return to Banjul while still covered. Read the small print before committing yourself.

 Before you apply for a new policy, however, you should see whether in fact you are already covered. A few all-risk home indemnity policies might indemnify you for loss of personal belongings while abroad. Also a good number of private medical schemes include health cover when overseas.

 Always read the small print when shopping around as one of the most common reasons for a claim being rejected is when an provider relies on a particularly onerous or restrictive term in the contract. Some policies specifically exclude 'dangerous activities' such as quad biking, motorcycling and even trekking.

 It is better to get a policy from a company that will directly settle any costs you incur in The Gambia, especially medical, rather than refund you after you pay your bills.

 It is highly advisable to buy travel insurance at the same time as you book your holiday or flight. The reason is that if your are forced, for example by illness, to cancel your trip you could still be covered and as a result could save you lots of money.

 Finally you should also look for a plan that will indemnify you for 'end supplier failure' - that is, if one of the companies you are travelling with goes bankrupt, such as a hotel, tour operator or airline.

* The UK tour operator The Gambia Experience, in partnership with Travel & General Insurance Services Limited (tagis), have negotiated zero excess on their holiday insurance policy (except Personal Liability which is at a set limit). NB that their plan does not cover any pre-existing health conditions for people travelling to Banjul.

Independent Travellers:
Most travel agencies specialising in independent voyages also offer trip insurance, which is customised to the requirements of the independent traveller and often at slightly lower premiums than the market average.

If you are a student or on a university gap-year and your flight agent, broker or credit card company cannot help you with a good explorer or backpacker insurance, try a student travel service. Make sure emergency flights home, loss of belongings, medical treatment and medivac are covered.

Making A Claim:
In the event that you find yourself needing to make a claim, you should keep all receipts for medications and medical treatment received while in The Gambia, and should you be a victim of theft or are injured in an accident, you must get an official report from the nearest local police station to where the incident occurred.

It is better to reduce the likelihood of having to make a claim by using your common sense and taking precautions with the things you have some control over such as your personal safety and belongings. Such measures include, but are not limited to, using a hotel safety deposit box for your valuables and documents, being aware of your immediate surroundings and being conversant of good food and drink safety practice.


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