Is Extra Travel Insurance Premium Payable Due to COVID-19 Lockdown?

Ever since the pandemic reared its ugly head, unpredictability in our lives have multiplied. While things may remain normal often, we have also witnessed the emergence of new variants threatening normal life. If you happen to be abroad while another COVID-19 lockdown forces you to stay, will you need to pay an extra premium to extend your international travel insurance?

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    Now covers COVID-19

    When Do You Need to Extend your Travel Insurance?

    There are plenty of occasions where you may need to extend your travel insurance - a sudden change in plans, some unavoidable emergency, or your flight was cancelled by your airline carrier. However, let's talk about the most recent and pressing issue of all, the coronavirus.

    Many governments respond to these sudden spikes in cases either by curbing movement or totally restricting travel, such as a lockdown. In such cases, what about people who were only visiting that country? During the first and second waves of the coronavirus pandemic, several nations completely sealed their borders and imposed curfews to stop the spread further.

    Even public means of transport including trains and commercial airlines stopped operating. While most people buy travel insurance policy to avoid such emergencies, what if your plan expires during the lockdown?

    Can You Extend International Travel Insurance Policy?

    Several travel insurance companies in India offer the benefit of extending the travel insurance plan due to changes in plans, including getting stuck in a lockdown. Not only there is a fear of getting infected in a foreign country but also other serious concerns and expenses that come with an unplanned extended trip.

    However, you must meet the conditions set by your insurance provider to avail of this benefit. For starters, this policy must have been purchased before your trip commenced, as your coverage benefits start at the immigration counter of your home country and end when you return back. If you purchased this plan abroad then most insurers will not agree to extend your policy.

    Another important thing to remember is to inform your insurer about the extension beforehand, with at least a week or 10 days before your plan is about to expire. However, this may vary with the insurer as well as the reason for extending it.

    In the case of a lockdown, most travel insurance plans now offer an automatic extension. Thus, make sure to confirm this feature if you plan to go abroad to avoid being vulnerable in case you get stranded.

    Does Travel Insurance Extension Require Extra Premium?

    During the first wave, IRDAI was quick to instruct the insurers to defer the date of travel without paying an additional charge. Several insurers offered free rescheduling of policies as per the IRDAI's circular.

    As of now, many travel insurance policies come with the benefit of automatic extension in case of a COVID-19 lockdown. Travellers stuck abroad can get a free extension for 7 days or more depending on who the insurer is. In such a case, no additional premium will be required. You will be required to contact your insurer to grant you the extension in case of the lockdown, depending on however many days are offered by your plan.

    However, if exceeding the set limit as per the policy schedule then an extra premium will be required. Even if your plan does not offer automatic extension, you will need to inform your insurer requesting an extension and pay the required premium.

    How Long Can You Extend Your Travel Insurance?

    In case of emergency trip extensions, many insurers offer a 10 to 15 days’ extension. However, there are also some insurance plans where you can extend your policy for up to 180 days. If extending because of the lockdown, many insurers reimburse you for hospitalisation, food and lodging expenses due to the virus. Since the exact duration of extension and benefits offered may vary, don't forget to confirm them with your insurer prior to the purchase.

    How to Extend your Travel Insurance?

    In case you need an extension, it is important to do it before your policy expires. Ideally, you should inform the insurer in advance depending on their policy.

    You can contact them through their designated helpline, email or digital platforms that are available. In case you are exceeding the set limit of extension as per your policy, you can pay the additional premium online and your policy will be extended. Once confirmed, rest assured that you will be protected from any mishaps as long as you are abroad.

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