While planning our last trip to the UK, our travel agent gave us a few do’s and don’ts amongst which Travel Insurance had been classified as a “must have”. That is when we started our research on the same as it was the last thing on our mind and wondering why it was classified as a “must have” and not a “can have”.
Travel insurance is a necessary facet if you are:
(a) going on a long trip or multiple trips, and
(b) if you are a frequent traveller.
Typically, travel insurance is required when the costs incurred exceed what you can comfortably afford to write off in case of plan cancellation due to, for example, illness, bad weather, etc. A quick weekend trip in Goa including return flight fares from Mumbai might not call for travel insurance. But a month-long international holiday would.
A travel insurance plan provides financial protection for your travels, allowing you to have a good trip without worrying about ‘What if the flight gets cancelled/there is a medical emergency/I lose my baggage?’
Now comes the crucial question: How to get the best deals on Travel Insurance?
To get the BEST deals in Travel Insurance, one needs to know the concept of Travel Insurance and then weigh the pros and cons not just on cost but on benefits per unit cost.
So, let us understand what is covered in a standard Travel Insurance:
Your standard policy should provide the following coverage:
- Trip cancellation: This is especially useful if you have non-refundable bookings.
- Trip interruption: This would compensate you for costs incurred, for example, because you had to stay overnight at a hotel due to a flight delay.
- Medical emergencies: This is the biggest advantage of good travel insurance. Travel insurance can help you deal with the prohibitive costs of seeking healthcare abroad and/or having to fly back home immediately for further treatment.
- Loss of baggage: This would be compensated for by your plan and would come especially useful if you are carrying valuables like electronics or jewellery.
What is not covered?
Most policies will not cover the following aspects:
- Trips affected by political instability/terrorism: If you are visiting a politically volatile region, for instance, your insurance will not cover you against trip cancellations or interruptions due to political turmoil or terrorist activities.
- Accidents while drinking: The insurer is not responsible for medical expenses incurred while the person was under the influence of alcohol.
- Pregnancy: Coverage might be available only if the baby is born premature; otherwise, since the medical costs of pregnancy are foreseeable, the insurer will not foot the bill.
- Psychological illness: A trip cancelled following a nervous breakdown or injuries that are self-inflicted (e.g. due to depression) do not invite coverage.
Some policies offer Additional Coverage in terms of:
- Adventure sports: Activities like trekking, scuba diving, etc. are not covered under standard plans. You would have to look for a policy that offers such coverage.
- Extended trips: Standard multi-trip travel plans provide coverage for between 30 and 60 days per trip. Should you need coverage for a longer period, you would have to look for more specific plans—e.g. backpacker’s insurance.
Other things to consider while choosing the best Travel Insurance Plan: Caps, sub-limits and other aspects
Most travel plans do not cover pre-existing conditions. (In fact, a policyholder with such a condition must inform the insurer beforehand to avoid any future medical-related claims from being rejected.) However, ICICI Lombard, for instance, covers pre-existing conditions in life-threatening scenarios and in the case of acute pain. The coverage ends when the patient becomes stable. If the policyholder is in hospital for more than two days, a daily allowance of $50 is given as compensation. But this can be claimed only once during the journey and for a maximum of five days.
Meanwhile, Tata AIG Travel also comes with certain terms and conditions. In case of medical emergencies, for instance, the policyholder would have to pay a $100 deductible before the insurance kicks in. Costs arising from pre-existing conditions that lead to unforeseen life-threatening situations would be compensated to the tune of $1,500. Personal liability, which covers a person against legal suits, also has a limit of $200, whereas passport loss would receive coverage to the tune of $30.
Online Travel Insurance Plans
Buying travel insurance online cuts down on the overall costs. Moreover, it is convenient and quick. However, you must have an adequate understanding of your financial travel needs in order to buy a suitable travel policy. It is important to read user reviews and find out about the reliability and claim-settlement ratio of the insurer—if the plan seems too good to be true, it probably is. Being aware of the exclusions is also a key aspect of travel insurance purchase, because if something is not adequately covered, you can always look for better or additional coverage.
Claim Settlement for a Travel Insurance Plan
In most cases, travel insurers allow policyholders to file claims even while travelling. It is not necessary to return to the home country to seek compensation for costs incurred, although that is an option as well. One can contact the insurer via email and telephone for a quick response—this is especially useful in the case of cashless claims. It is recommended to intimate the company before embarking on an expense that would involve claim settlement. If such intimation has not been provided, there may be a time limit (often 30 days) within which the claim must be filed. You would have to contact a TPA for making reimbursement claims. The TPA would verify the documents and arrange the required financial assistance.
To initiate a claim process, one would have to provide:
- Specific information regarding one’s current contact details, details of the claim situation. including the extent of damage, injuries, loss etc.
- Documentation such as medical certificates and reports, evidence of ownership or expenditure, police reports in case of an accident, all communication relevant to the claim.
Since most travel insurance companies operate online, the claim process can usually be initiated via email or the company website. However, some insurers may require you to call a toll-free number in case of hospitalization.
Things to keep in mind while choosing the Best Travel Insurance Plan:
- Always compare the pros and cons, i.e. the benefits and the advantages the plan has to offer and not just the cost. The same can be done at the click of a button with relevant and accurate information specified.
- Keep the exclusions in mind so that there is no difference in expectation at the time of claim.
- Know the claim settlement process and the toll free helpline number which hopefully you would not need but it is better to at least know the process.
Keeping the above mentioned points in mind these important points, one should always do some amount of research of the plans available and then opt for the desired plan that best caters to all our needs.
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