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Travel Insurance-A Road Trip Essential

Monday, July 17, 2017
By Sanjay Datta

Sanjay Datta
Chief underwriting claims and reinsurance, ICICI Lombard

International travel is becoming increasingly popular among Indians. Demographically, India has a huge young and working population that is eager to travel and experience the world. The number of older people undertaking international travel is on the rise with many Indian parents having to travel abroad to visit their children who are settled there. Many Indians, especially in the IT sector, travel abroad on temporary assignments. According to the Ministry of Tourism, the number of people who have gone on foreign trips has increased from 8.3 million in the year 2006 to over 20 million in the year 2015.That is a 245% increase in little less than a decade.

The domestic medical insurance that you have will not cover you while you are in a foreign destination. In the unfortunate eventuality of hospitalisation due to an illness or accident, you may have to spend a huge sum on medical bills. With a large number of older people undertaking foreign travel, the concept of travel insurance is becoming increasingly relevant. Certain countries like the Schengen countries mandate travel insurance as a visa requirement.

Even if travel insurance is not mandated by the destination country that you are travelling to, it makes financial sense to purchase travel insurance. You can choose a single trip cover or a multi- trip plan. If you are a frequent traveller you should opt for a multi trip plan that will cover all the trips that you undertake in a single year, the maximum trip duration being restricted to 30 days, 45 days or 60 days, depending on the plan opted for. It is important to compare the coverage offered by the various insurers and the applicable premium rates, before you take a decision. If you are travelling as a family, a family travel policy may be more economical.

It is important to understand from the insurer the events that will be covered by your policy. While all travel insurance policies will cover medical emergencies (provided the same is not due to a pre-existing disease), you need to find out what are the non-medical emergencies that will be covered. A comprehensive travel insurance policy will cover non-medical emergencies such as flight delays, cancellation of trips, total loss of checked in baggage loss of passport, financial emergency assistance, etc. . Your home and its belongings may also be covered against theft while you are away on holiday.

If you intend to hire a car and drive around while you are in a foreign country, travel insurance is a must for you since a comprehensive travel insurance policy will cover you against accidental risks, medical expenses and provide personal liability coverage against injuries to third parties or damage to property accidentally caused by you. In case the basic policy does not cover any of these, you may have to purchase additional riders for the extra benefit. The additional cost that you pay will ensure that you enjoy a hassle free trip in case of any unforeseen eventuality.

It is important to familiarise yourself with the claim procedure and the documents required for making a claim. The insurer generally provides you with a toll free number or a local number for the country that you are visiting on which you could call in case of any eventuality. It is advisable to keep this number handy while you are travelling.

Medical claims if found admissible can be settled via the cashless mode wherein the customer can avail medical services at specified hospitals post authorization by the insurer. This facility ensures that you do not need to make any cash payment to the hospital upfront. Alternatively, the customer can also make payment to the provider/hospital and get the same reimbursed from the insurer once he is back in India. Claim form, medical bills, doctor’s reports, discharge summary and other relevant documents need to be submitted to the insurer for claim settlement. Non medical claims are typically settled on reimbursement basis. A comprehensive travel policy can give you a lot of benefits and compensate you for any financial loss that you may incur due to medical or non-medical exigencies and also ensure your mental peace while you enjoy your holidays with your loved ones.

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