Family Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is a necessary requirement for anyone travelling to a foreign country. Travel insurance protects against loss from plane or train ticket cancellations, medical expenses, hotel cancellations, theft, baggage loss, and various other unforeseen events that may spoil the trip. In fact, the importance of travel insurance can be gauged from the simple fact that the applications for the Schengen visa that covers most of West European countries, and the Australian visa, among others, must be accompanied by a valid travel insurance policy.
There are various types of travel insurance, though we will, in this article, focus on family travel insurance. We will try to give a brief introduction to this specific form of travel insurance and address a few pertinent queries that most of us have on the subject, viz.
- What is family travel insurance?
- Why do you need it?
- What are different types of family travel insurance?
- Which one do you need?
- What do you need to check when you buy family travel insurance?
What is Family Travel Insurance?
Family travel insurance as the name suggests refers to one travel insurance policy that covers the entire family. The family generally refers to two adults below 60 years of age and two children below 21 years. It is also known as a family floater plan.
This policy covers all the four persons on an individual basis and is generally cheaper than buying four single policies for each member. It protects against all the standard unforeseen expenses that may crop up during a trip.
One thing to note, in these policies is the age limit. If the parents are beyond 60 years or one of the children has crossed 21 years of age, it may make sense to get different policies for each person. However, most insurance companies provide some relief and may have riders that will allow the person who has not met the age criteria to be covered under the same policy. This will mean some additional premium, of course, but may still prove to be cheaper than four individual policies. The same reasoning may apply if the family has three children. Instead of buying an additional policy for the child, it may make sense to talk to the insurance agent and get the third child included in the same policy by paying some additional premium.
Why do you need it?
Travelling with the family is certainly more fun but is also fraught with more risks. For instance, a small change in the weather or sampling the local cuisine that may not affect grown-ups at all but may have an effect on the child.
Parents must realise that their children are still growing up and their immune systems are still coming to terms with the germs, pollutants, effects of weather change, etc. that we, grown-ups, take for granted. A slight dip in the weather may bring about a cold or spending too much time in the sun on a beach holiday may lead to sunstroke. You may have to seek out a local doctor and get some medicines in the middle of your holiday. Unlike India, where most of the medicine is affordable, doctor and medicine bills in most foreign countries can total up to quite a tidy sum. Any hospitalisation on top of that will increase the expenses drastically.
Having a family floater plan helps in such cases. All medical expenses are reimbursed up to the agreed limit. Some insurers also provide cashless hospitalisation. This means that you do not pay anything. The insurance company settles all expenses on your behalf.
Taking another common example, holidays with children generally include a visit to a theme park. Most of these parks do not provide refunds in case of last minute cancellations. And since they charge the full amount of the package trip up-front, this means you end up losing the entire amount if you are not insured under a family floater plan.
In addition, other things such as flight cancellations, cruise cancellations, bad weather, etc. may put a spanner in your travel plans. Last minute plane tickets and hotel bookings can be very expensive. In fact, missing a connecting flight because an earlier flight was delayed can rake up enough expenses that may more than dent the holiday budget. Travel Insurance plans for family can prove to be a lifesaver in such cases.
To list down, some reasons why you need family travel insurance include:
- Flight or train cancellations
- Missed flights or delayed flights
- Hotel booking cancellations
- Package tour cancellations
- Medical expenses
- Hospitalisation expenses
- Theft including loss of passport, identity papers, credit cards, debit cards, etc.
- Political risks including strikes, civil commotion, etc.
- Bad weather
These are just some of the many reasons why you need travel insurance, especially if you are travelling with the family.
Coverage Under Family Travel Insurance?
Most insurance companies offer different types of insurance plans. These may vary in terms of the coverage they provide or the time period or both.
Let's take the case of coverage first.
The basic family travel insurance plans cover only a few contingencies, like:
- Medical expenses and evacuation or repatriation expenses (i.e., when you are stuck in another country with no money and have to be repatriated back to India)
- Personal accident
- Loss of passports and travel papers
- Loss or delay of baggage
- Missed or delayed flights
- Extension of hotel stay due to unavoidable reasons
In addition to these, you may like to opt for adding other covers for bad weather, hijacking, personal liability, emergency cash, fire, home cover, etc. Some insurance companies may cover for all of these in one policy though most have two-three types of tiered policies that will let you access the cover against additional risks on payment of higher premiums.
It is important for you to understand what is covered under the policies. For instance, if you are staying with family, relatives or friends in the places to which you are travelling, reimbursement for hotel cancellations will not be that important as compared to having comprehensive cover against all medical expenses.
Let's now look at plans for different time periods.
If you and your family take more than 2-3 foreign holidays a year, it may make sense to buy a family floater travel plan that may cover multiple trips instead of a policy that only provides insurance for a single trip. Since the number of Indian families taking multiple foreign trips is on the rise, a lot of insurance companies have come up with competitive plans that provide cover for different periods such as 30 days, 60 days, 90 days or even longer. These family travel insurance plans let you avail 2-3 trips within a year as long as the total number of days does not exceed the time for which the coverage has been taken.
Buying one of these plans is definitely cheaper than buying a family travel insurance plan each time you and your family travel in the year.
These plans work well if the family accompanies the person who has gone on a business trip. Once the work gets over, the wife or the husband can join the rest of the family members in the holiday. Since frequent business travellers in India regularly clock trips abroad for work, it makes perfect sense to have the family accompanying him. Family travel insurance plans prove to be highly economical in such cases.
Read More: Benefits of Availing Family Travel Insurance
Which one do you need?
This is an important criterion to think on before buying a family floater plan. As discussed, there are quite a few policies – from those that cover family members beyond the age limits to those that protect against various risks. You need to understand your risks well before you opt for one. Also, it makes obvious sense to choose the policy that provides the most comprehensive cover.
Policies with the least premium may not cover certain risks or may have certain limitations while covering those contingencies. And this brings us to the most important point while buying any insurance policy and especially a family travel insurance policy:
Read the fine print!
Understand what the policies cover and what they don’t. It makes no sense if your plane tickets are cancelled due to bad weather and you end up spending a lump sum on buying new tickets only to discover that your family travel insurance policy does not provide coverage against cancelled tickets for the children.
Most family travel insurance plans do not cover adventure sports or pre-existing ailments. Therefore, in case, you need insurance for these activities or for pre-existing health conditions, you should talk to the insurance company and make sure that your family is covered. You may have to pay some additional premium but the tension-free holiday will be worth it.
What do you need to check when you buy Family Travel Insurance?
Let's take this in the form of a list so it’s easier to remember as a checklist:
- Ensure relevant risks are covered:Insurance companies many not cover pre-existing ailments or certain costs such as for replacing prescription glasses, for adventure sports, etc. Make sure you are covered for these.
- Read the exclusions: Go through the exclusions list in detail. You may be assuming the policy will cover a specific contingency while it may not or only cover the risk only up to a minimal amount. Ensure that there are no relevant risks that are left uncovered. For instance, if you are travelling to a remote country or region, it is essential that you have a cover for missed or delayed flights.
- Compare: Take some time to compare the policies in detail. Most family travel insurance plans are steeped in technical jargon that makes it difficult to understand. A comparison site will help you understand and relate things better. You will also be able to differentiate between relevant details like cashless hospitalisation and hospitalisation expenses reimbursement (tip: the first one is better).
Family travel insurance only reimburses for the expenses, except where cashless services such as hospitalisation are specifically mentioned. This means that you will have to pay for the expenses when you are aboard and you will be reimbursed when you apply for it after you are home. Keeping some extra cash with yourself will ensure you do not face any problems in an emergency.
These should be enough to get you started on family insurance plans and look for the right type of plan for yourself and your family. Keep the main points in mind and select a plan that makes sense both coverage-wise and budget-wise.