While buying travel insurance for certain international trips is mandatory, for domestic trips one can do without it.
Let us break down this concept vis-à-vis scenarios where you might invoke travel insurance and see if it is really relevant, or can you make-do without it as well.
Scenario 1: Loss of ticket
The promise: Travel insurance reimburses the cost of original ticket if it is lost by you and you couldn’t make the trip.
The real deal: This is a dated clause. Who loses a ticket nowadays? You have it on your SMS and on your mail. But what if you still manage to lose your ticket/e-ticket? This is where your domestic insurance plan may come into play.
It will reimburse original ticket charges (subject to deductibles) should you fail to continue with your travel, only if you don’t lose it because of your carelessness.
Scenario 2: Missed departure
The promise: Travel insurance reimburses the cost of your actual ticket in case you miss your flight.
The real deal: There is a limitation here. You will be reimbursed the cost of ticket only if the vehicle you had used (say a public transport or a cab) to reach the airport, broke down or got involved in an accident.
Scenario 3: Accommodation charges due to trip delay
The promise: The insurer will offer reimbursement coverage for stay if your flight is delayed beyond a certain number of hours.
The real deal: While your domestic travel insurance will reimburse accommodation expenses in case your flight is delayed, there are sub-limits on how much you can claim. The airline will be responsible for arranging your stay, food and onward journey. In extreme cases of flight delay or cancellations due to severe weather conditions, the airline will also make arrangements for alternate mode of travel. In all, it is the airline which is responsible to get you to the destination.
Scenario 4: Medical emergency
The promise: Travel insurance plan reimburses medical expenses incurred towards the treatment while in transit.
The real deal: This is the most important component of a travel covers. Most travel insurance plans have a little strainer, commonly known as exclusions, that hardly leaves you with anything substantial. In this case, you will be provided for medical expenses incurred towards treatment due to accidental injuries.
Certain travel plans provision for pre-existing medical conditions as well (subject to sub-limits). Note that medical reimbursement extended by your travel insurer or the airline may not be sufficient to meet your actual requirement, as in case of permanent or partial disablement. The most important thing that renders domestic travel insurance irrelevant in this scenario is the presence of your health insurance. Health insurance covers us in a way far better than travel insurance at any given point of time.
International travel insurance makes a lot of sense here because of two reasons: For one, your health insurance will cover you only on Indian soil and not abroad. Secondly, the cost of treatment in a foreign country is exorbitant.
Scenario 5: Accidental death
The promise: Travel insurance plans offer a certain amount of money, usually between R1 lakh and R5 lakh, for accidental death in transit.
The real deal: Isn’t your life insurance cover for this purpose only? Again, domestic travel insurance loses a bit of sheen in this context.
Imagine a scenario wherein someone dies en route a specific destination owing to a pre-existing medical condition, such as a heart ailment. Most travel insurance plans do not provision for accidental death due to pre-existing medical conditions while in transit. However, some insurers do extend death benefits if the pre-existing disease is covered by your plan.
Most airlines have an in-built insurance plan in the ticket (optional). When you buy a ticket and sign off the check box saying, ‘travel insurance at R149 extra’, you automatically become eligible for all benefits of travel insurance.
This is better than buying an exclusive plan, especially for a domestic trips. Death benefits extended by your airline or travel insurer would be lower than the one offered by your life insurer.
So, is domestic travel insurance relevant at all?
Most of us have life, health and personal accident insurance that safeguard us as well as our family against any unforeseen circumstances on Indian soil. For those of us who don’t, opting for domestic travel insurance plan is a must.
If a travel cover is the only insurance cover you have, make sure you opt for a higher sum insured. It will cost you R,197 and cover you for R1 lakh for a 15-day single trip. There is a plethora of options you could choose from when it comes to domestic travel, and it is up to you to decide what works best for you and your family.
The writer is CEO & co-founder, Policybazaar.com