While we may overlook terms such as ‘accident’, ‘illness’ and ‘emergency’ in the excitement of planning a holiday, a good travel insurance can be relaxing when it comes to financial aspects in times of distress.
Imagine situations like falling sick and getting hospitalised in a foreign land or having to cancel your holiday at the last minute due to unforeseen reasons. Not only will you be emotionally drained but such circumstances also bring with them an immense financial loss. While planning a vacation naturally one tends to focus on words such as ‘getaway’, ‘unwind’ and ‘adventure’ and forgets to add ‘accident’, ‘illness’ or ‘emergency’ to the checklist. It is at times like these that travel insurance comes to rescue and keeps you sane during the crisis. Although you won’t need to claim the travel insurance every time you go on a holiday, it is risky and unwise to travel without one. Medical costs, for instance, in most of the countries are high and merely consulting a doctor may dig a big hole in your pocket.
A good travel plan not only offers cashless hospitalisation but also the evacuation cost. This, however, does not include any pre-existing illness. Additionally, it insures you against mishaps such as loss of passport or checked-in baggage, cancellation of the trip or any personal liabilities. It is, however, not ‘ just paperwork’ and one of the crucial things to be on the checklist and not something to be done in haste on the suggestion of your travel agent. It requires analysis and must be according to your needs.
The size of your cover or the sum insured is dependent on the choice of destination. As medical cover forms the key feature of insurance, one must decide the sum insured on the basis of the cost of medical services in the country or city. Medical treatments, for example, in countries like twhe US, Europe and Canada are much expensive than that in South East Asian countries. In Japan, however, considering its history of natural disasters, premium rates are higher than in other Asian destinations.
Longer stay naturally means higher premium. However, it also varies according to the plans offered by different agencies. For a seven-day trip to England, for instance, Neha Dang, manager, Corporate Risk and Insurance Solutions, an insurance brokerage got an insurance of USD 50,000 with a premium of INR 640 from Tata AIG General Insurance. “For the same duration Bajaj Allianz had another plan that meant over INR 1500 premium, but this suited my budget and requirements,” says Dang.
Frequent flyers, however, can choose for multi-trip policies that are valid for a year and normally cover any number of trips overseas, maximum duration not extending beyond 30-45 days per trip. Not only do annual trip plans turn out to be cheaper than the single-trip policies as they reduce the additional administration expenses, but also are more convenient as one doesn’t have to go through the paperwork and buy new plans every time.
What you do during the vacation
Depending on whether it is a sight seeing or itinerary involving adventure activities such as trekking in arduous terrains, skiing or paragliding; one must fill the gaps in travel insurance accordingly. While travel insurance does not cover the risks involved in such activities normally, you can get special coverage based on the requirement at an extra cost.
Additionally, for people above 60 years (or in some cases above 65 years, depending on the vendor), one can opt for senior citizen plans that include features such as cover for pre-existing illness in special situations, higher sum insured and accidental death and dismemberment cover. Many companies also offer add-ons like burglary and fire insurance for your homes during the time you are travelling. There are also covers like bail bond insurance in case you are detained abroad!
Comparison a must
There are many companies in the market such as ICICI, HDFC ERGO, Tata AIG General Insurance and Bajaj Allianz General Insurance. However, one must do a thorough analysis and comparison of plans offered by them before making a choice. This is not necessarily based on the sum insured and premium but on offerings such as their online services, claims process, toll free number, payment options and the network of hospitals.
Apart from these, one must be prepared for the claim. While different covers are clubbed in one single policy – medical, accident, passport and baggage loss, personal liability, trip cancellation, etc. – the claim procedures differ for different situation. And whereas travel insurance companies do their jobs you must be prepared – read the claim procedures, have the required documents ready, and save the helpline numbers of your insurer and the third-party administrator in your phone.