With summer holiday season just around the corner, travel plans to exciting and exotic destinations are underway for many. From stitching the perfect itinerary to zeroing down on the best hotel and flight bookings, a lot of energy and time has already gone into making the trip a memorable one. So, what next?
In our quest for exploring new experiences, we often tend to miss out on the important aspect of protecting our journey from unforeseen contingencies, and that’s where a reliable travel insurance comes in to play. Even though the outbound travel market has surged over the past few years, not many people have recognized the need for a travel cover. While most consumers end up buying travel insurance as a mandatory cover, they often fail to understand the fact that it’s the only protection to help them in the event of any eventualities during their trips.
In fact, it is compulsory for travellers visiting Schengen countries to have travel insurance as a part of visa documentation process; even Australia mandates people over a certain age group to apply for travel covers.
For instance, while on a trip, if you lose your passport, a travel insurance policy will be your best guard to take care of the reimbursement expenses of acquiring a duplicate passport or getting a new one.
Similarly, in case of Baggage delay / Baggage loss, the insurance cover will compensate for your loss up to a certain permissible limit; while for baggage delay, you can get the expense of buying new personal properties reimbursed.
Medical emergencies or a serious injury, during a trip could get anyone on their feet and that is when a travel insurance comes as a savior to ensure that medical emergencies are adequately met including cashless hospitalization or having a close family member flown to the location and taking care of other related expenses as well.
The most common hiccup nowadays could be an airline’s fault or a sudden medical evacuation. Many such unplanned perils may further blemish a planned trip at the eleventh hour, which can arrive in many ways –what do you do about your prior hotel or airline bookings if your trip gets suddenly cancelled due to natural calamity at the location destination? In such cases, a travel policy recompenses for the expenses incurred for accommodation and ticket bookings. In case of a delayed flight, a travel policy will cover additional expenses such as an unplanned night stay at a hotel.
Theft is a common occurrence during trips. An insurance policy takes care of fraudulent charges like loss of credit/debit cards. However, before investing, it is prudent to know the fine prints of a travel policy to secure your journey better.
Given below are some elements you must look out for before buying a travel insurance policy.
• Confirm if you have a travel insurance already
You could have travel coverage already and not even know about it! Some Credit card policies or home insurances provide travel too, hence it’s well worth checking from the existing accounts before buying a new policy.
• Get your medical cover checked
If you have a medical condition make sure to carry your vaccinations and medicines recommended by the doctor for the destination you are travelling to. Some insurance companies may not pay out in case you get struck by a virus in absence of proper precautions.
• Check for your valuables cover
One must understand the difference between baggage and electronics and other valuables. While ‘baggage’ refers to personal day to day items; electronics and valuables comprise a completely different section of the policy. Many companies do not compensate if you do not carry an invoice copy. Hence, it’s essential to carry original bills and vouchers or have digital copies on your phone or mailbox to testify your purchase claim.
• Pay more to get more
Some travel insurance companies distribute levels of covers to choose from. Make sure you check these levels as paying a little more with not too much difference in price can help you avail more fun with your buck.
• Multi-trip policies
Multi-trip policies are more beneficial for frequent travellers. Multi-trip policies cover all trips undertaken in a policy year, keeping in mind the length and limits of each trip. If one undertakes 5-6 trips a year, it is recommended to buy a multi-trip policy rather than a separate policy for each trip. Also multi-trip policies are more economical.
• Check for Cancellation Terms
The most disheartening part of a trip is if you have to cancel at the last moment due to unforeseen snags. Hence, it’s advisable to read the policy document carefully as not all insurance companies cover cancellation of accommodations and flights.
Since the Indian insurance market opened up under the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act (IRDA Act), product innovation and consumer options have grown by leaps and bounds. The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) reported a steady increase in the number of outbound travelers from India; in 2014, there were 18 million travelers departing the country, with an estimated year-on-year growth of 11 per cent and a projection of 35 million outbound travelers from India by 2020.
Vacations are supposed to be pleasant and memorable. You do not want it to be tainted by unfortunate incidents. Since you cannot control an incident, precaution is what you can ensure. Travel insurance is a subjective matter and hence all the parameters should be thoroughly checked. You should choose an insurer which is offering you what you are in quest for. What deems for others may not work out for you. Medical expenses in abroad can cost a lot, so it’s vital that everyone going abroad has adequate cover in place for any eventualities.
It is primarily advised by financial experts to read the travel insurance covers and documents before opting for a policy. You must not only chase an inexpensive travel insurance cover but seek your cover from a trusted brand with strong domestic and international networks and a successful claim settlement track record to go by. But most importantly, be clear of your own needs and expectations from a travel plan to adequately take care of your journey.
By Parag Ved, EVP & Head, Consumer Lines, Tata AIG General Insurance