By Puneet Sahni
Traveling gives you new experiences, exposes you to different cultures and customs and often gives you a new perspective on life. Whether you are traveling alone or with family, you want the trip to be fun filled and invigorating.
What you do not want is to encounter trouble while you are visiting distant places, cut off from your familiar surroundings. However, unexpected situations do come up, and you need to be prepared for them. Accidents or illness, theft and flight delays might interrupt your careful plans. A comprehensive travel insurance policy can take care of the hassles caused due to any unforeseen circumstances.
There are several attributes to a travel insurance policy and it is intended to cover individuals from a range of travel associated threats. This will help to cover the risks a traveler might face during his or her trip. It typically covers death, personal accident, medical expenses, repatriation, loss/ delay of checked in baggage, passport loss and third party liability.
Let’s look at the features of a travel insurance policy little more in detail.
Medical expenses: While you are traveling abroad, there are chances that one might fall ill and the medical facilities in most of the countries can be very expensive. The heavy cost of getting medical attention in another country can ruin the fun of traveling. In such circumstances, a cashless medical insurance can prove to be very helpful. In addition, most insurance policies cover dental treatments, expenses of medical evacuation in case of emergencies. Some policies also cover sports injuries, mental and nervous disorders, etc.
Personal accident: The cover provides medical costs for treatment in case of illness or accidental injury. In case of permanent disability or death, a part will be offered as compensation.
Loss of baggage/ passport: Airlines misplacing passenger baggage is a very common occurrence. This cover reimburses the cost up to a specified limit. Also, most of the travel insurance policies cover the risk of lost passport. Thus, the expenses of getting a new passport are borne by the insurance company.
Trip cancellation/trip curtailment/trip delay: This cover reimburses the ticket against cancellation/ delay or curtailment. The cover also provides non-refundable portion of the hotel cost or the common carrier ticket cancellation charges.
Personal liability: If a traveler accidently happens to cause some injury or harm (death, accident or injury) to a third person or property, the personal liability add-on of the insurance covers the cost of the same. However, the damage caused voluntarily is not covered under the policy.
There are two important aspects that need to be kept in mind while purchasing a travel insurance policy. Firstly, most pre-existing diseases are excluded from the cover. So if you have had any pre-existing disease before traveling, make sure to check with your insurer about the same. Secondly, if a treatment can be reasonably delayed until the insured’s return to India, then, the cost of getting it treated abroad won’t be covered. The decision of whether the disease/illness required immediate attention will be jointly taken by the physicians and qualified personnel, as the case may be.
Generally, medical tests are not important, but some insurance companies might look at the medical history of the person and want a few tests to be done.
The golden rule for claiming your travel insurance is intimating your insurer about the claim at the earliest. This is to give enough time to the insurer to process your claim and also leave less space for doubts on the authenticity of the claim. It is also critical to submit copies of documents that supports your case. For instance, receipts that are relevant such as police reports, hospital bills, etc. keep them safe. Documentation helps to prove that some incident really happened.
The next step is to follow up with your agent or the insurance company. Make sure that the claim form and documents were received, and were submitted for processing. It’s important to ask for specific timelines so that you are aware of when each step of your claim is expected to be completed.
Now that you have packed your bags, you should also consider investing in a good travel insurance plan should any untoward situation take place. Bon Voyage!
(The author is Head-Product Development, SBI General Insurance)