Rajesh took his family and parents on a vacation to the US. Unfortunately, his father fell ill and was diagnosed with a heart ailment which required immediate hospitalization. The cost of the treatment and hospitalization came up to $20,000 (Rs 14,00,000). It was a huge amount and Rajesh had to pay through his nose after gathering some help from friends and relatives.
Rajesh did not consider buying a travel insurance before he left India as he felt that was unnecessary and an added expense. Medical emergencies do not come announced. And the cost of treatment and hospitalization is high-priced in any place around the world. People travel to relax, enjoy and experience different places.
While we understand that nothing can alleviate your worries when a dear one falls ill, but how do you ensure that you are at least covered for financial relief? Travel insurance is probably the only way you can do so.
What is Travel Insurance?
Travel Insurance is a form of insurance that aims to cover emergencies that may come up while you are traveling. This travel may be a work assignment or a lovely vacation alone or with your family to the most exotic places in the world.
No matter how well you plan your travel, there may be a hundred different exigencies that may crop up during the trip. It might be a medical emergency or case of lost baggage to missing connecting flights or even your home getting burgled back in your homeland.
A travel insurance in hand could help you mitigate the financial loss that you may have to incur, should any of the emergencies occur.
What Does A Travel Insurance Cover?
The general covers that a travel insurance gives you are:-
1) Medical expenses: This is the most prominent cover that a travel insurance can give you. This cover insures you against any loss incurred during emergencies like illness, injuries or diseases occurring during the trip. This may include in-patient and out-patient treatment, lab tests prescribed by the doctor, expenses incurred in transportation, any other associated costs like drugs and medicines.
This cover also goes on to cover repatriation of mortal remains of the insured in case of their death.
2) Dental treatment: Dental issues may seem like minor affairs when you are here in your country and they may not even cost much. However, dental treatments are extremely expensive abroad. But, if you are armed with a travel insurance, you can at least be assured of a decent treatment should your teeth start bothering you while you are traveling.
However, you would need to bear in mind that you may not be able to travel solely for a dental treatment.
3) Loss of baggage: Imagine you land at your destination for your holiday and your bags do not arrive. How do you manage without your belongings? The cost of replacing the contents of your baggage might turn out to be more expensive than your holiday. Of course, all airlines have their policies and compensation structure in place for missed baggage.
However, it may be much better for you to have a travel insurance in hand that can handle circumstances like these in a better fashion. But you should note that insurance companies do not pay for jewelry, if any, in your baggage. Also, you should bear in mind that this cover is available only for checked-in baggage.
4) Loss of Passport: Passport is probably the most important document for your travel. What would you do if it is lost? How would you go about filing a complaint and who would bear the cost of getting a duplicate or a fresh one issued?
This is where a travel insurance comes into play and helps you deal with this crisis.
5) Personal Accidents: An accident is something that you cannot rule out when on a holiday. Travel insurance covers you in case of hospitalization. In the same way, the insurer is liable to pay the next-of-kin of the insured the amount insured in case of any untoward accident resulting in the death of the insured.
6) Financial Emergency Assistance: There are chances that you end up being a victim to a circumstance like a robbery or mugging which may result in loss of money and belongings. Your travel insurance will cover damages due to events such as these.
7) Trip cancellation: If your trip is canceled due to unforeseen circumstances like a sudden illness, unfavorable weather condition or airline issues, and you have to bear damages due to such events, your travel insurance will take care of those damages.
8) Home burglary: If your home falls prey to burglary while you have been traveling, your travel insurance compensates you for the damages
* It is good to check with your insurer on the available covers before paying the premium amount as all insurers may not add all covers.
What Are The General Exclusions?
Though a lot of covers are allowed under a travel insurance policy, there are certain exclusions, which may include the following:-
Any pre-existing medical conditions that require hospitalization
Health check-ups done without any underlying medical conditions
Self-inflicted injuries/accidents arising from them
Engaging in a criminal or unlawful act which results in accidents, etc.
When it is proved that there was no care taken by the insured in guarding the passport/his belongings
When the loss of passport, etc. has not been intimated to the police and other concerned authorities like the Indian Embassy
When a non-standard form of medicine/treatment is taken
Types of Plans Available
All travel insurers have different plans available depending on the duration of your stay, number of trips (single or multiple), the area of travel (Travel to US & Canada has a higher premium generally), the amount of insurance, the covers available, etc.
It is good to do a detailed analysis of the available plans and their benefits before making a decision.
Who Is Eligible for Travel Insurance?
Generally, travel insurance is issued for individuals up to 70 years of age. However, there are certain insurers who offer plans for senior citizens for up to 99 years.
What Do You Do in Case of Claim?
These days, most insurers have a toll-free number/customer care numbers through which you can inform your insurer at the earliest about the eventuality. Even a missed call is enough for certain insurers.
It is a good idea to have your insurer's claim number stored in your phone so that you don't have to go digging out for documents when you require it. If it is a hospitalization claim, they might be able to arrange a cashless facility for you.
In all other cases, proper documentation is of prime importance. You should retain all copies of a police FIR, acknowledgment from them, a letter from the airline for lost baggage and receipts for your purchase of essential things.
The golden rule of claiming any insurance is to inform the insurer as soon as possible. However, for certain claims which might not be important enough, you could inform the insurer within a month of your return to India.
Is Travel Insurance Cancellable?
There can be various reasons due to which you might need to cancel your travel insurance. But it should be noted that you may not receive the entire amount paid as premium.
Cancellation before the date of commencement of travel
You can intimate the decision to cancel your travel anytime before you commence your travel and the insurer will refund the premium paid after charging a cancellation fee.
Cancellation after the date of travel of commencement of the policy
In this case, you are past the date of commencement of policy but you had to cancel your travel due to some exigency. You can apply to the insurer and explain the reason of cancellation with adequate proof.
Cancellation due to a reduced period of travel before the expiry of the insurance
Cancellation, in this case, is generally allowed on a pro-rata basis as decided by the insurer.
Travel Insurance is a very important necessity. Make sure you have one before you fly out so that you could enjoy your vacation/work abroad in peace.