By Dhruv Sarin
Travelling is an enthralling experience. But sometimes it can turn into a nightmare if not planned properly. And one of the important things that you need to do before undertaking a journey is buying a travel insurance plan to protect you and your belongings against any unforeseen mishap or misadventure such as falling ill or loss of baggage. There are different types of plans available in the market suiting different kinds of travellers and covering a different set of requirements. For example, there are policies specifically tailored to the requirements of students, senior citizens, business travellers, etc.
Just like any other insurance policy, a travel policy also comes with various exclusions and terms & conditions. It is, therefore, advisable to compare features of different plans online and then choose the best suited for you. Following are some suggestions to make your choice easier:
Types of travel and travellers: Under travel insurance, you will find well-defined categories of travellers such as senior citizen and student. So, if you are a student going abroad for studies, in an alien land you could face certain problems such as emotional upheavals and drugs & alcohol menace and need insurance protection. Similarly, old parents may need to visit their children settled abroad. Due to various risk factors involved, earlier it was difficult for them to get a travel insurance policy. The scenario, however, is much better now as some insurance companies have come up with specific policies dedicated to senior citizens. These policies cover pre-existing diseases, emergency medical expenses, baggage loss, flight cancellation etc.
Therefore, do not just buy any travel plan suggested by an agent, instead scan through the plans available and then decide on a policy which suits your requirements best.
Medical Cover: No matter what precaution you take while travelling to an alien land, a medical emergency can confront you anytime, anywhere. Health care is very expensive internationally and could burn a hole in your pocket. It is, therefore, advisable that before taking off, you buy a travel plan which includes a medical cover. Some insurers ask travellers to undergo medical tests before finalizing a plan, and it is in your interest that you comply because test result will give you a good idea about the state of your health and accordingly you can buy a suitable, cost-effective plan. A medical insurance cover takes care of cashless hospitalization worldwide, medical bills, hospital bills, emergency medical expenses, dental procedures, and pre-existing conditions.
Trip cancellation coverage: One of the major problems that travellers face relates to trip cancellation. This can happen due to a natural calamity, a technical snag, or airlines dropping a particular flight for some reason. A major part of your money spent on pre-booking of air/train tickets, hotels, taxi, etc, can be saved if your insurance policy has trip cancellation coverage. Some of the reasons for trip cancellation that insurers give cover against are listed below:
1. A non-traveling family member’s hospitalization or death.
2. Weather or airline-related issues
3. Sudden illness or injury to you or a travelling companion that renders you unfit to travel. (May differ plan to plan)
4. Your luggage is delayed, lost, stolen or damaged (May differ insurer to insurer)
Personal Belongings Cover: Baggage loss during a trip can not only spoil your mood but also create serious problems in continuing the trip. It is, therefore, prudent to buy a travel cover where baggage loss is also covered. Your baggage is one of the important companions on a trip. Understanding its importance, insurance companies provide fine coverage for the baggage loss or valuable items loss. A simple electronic gadget can cost Rs 50,000-1 lakh in today’s time and cover for such belongings have become necessary. Hence, watch out for a policy that has a nice coverage for all your personal belongings and valuable items.
Exclusions: Exclusions are an important part of any insurance policy and reading your policy wording carefully before your purchase can give you a comprehensive view of what isn’t included in the travel insurance policy. Don’t fall for the plan with lesser premium, look for all the inclusions and exclusions of the plan. Check, what all restrictions are imposed under your travel insurance and will you want those to be covered or not.
Travel insurance is a blessing for all the travellers and in order to avail its benefits do your thorough research, compare and choose the one best made for your needs. Remember, nothing comes free of cost and hence don’t fall for the cheapest policy just to save money or trust someone blindly. This has to be your decision culminated out of your requirements.
(The Author is Head of Health and Travel Insurance, Policybazaar.com )