How travel insurance protects against sudden medical expenses abroad

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New Delhi | Published: April 3, 2018 1:25:15 AM

Indians today are travelling far and wide more frequently than they ever did in the past.

travel insurance , economy, egyptOn a recent trip to Egypt, a traveller had an unfortunate accident where she fell off while enjoying a camel back ride.

Indians today are travelling far and wide more frequently than they ever did in the past. Though outbound tourism from India has surged, not many people even today have recognised the need for travel insurance.

It is observed that most of the travellers do not opt for a travel insurance unless it is made compulsory as visa requirement e.g. in the Schengen countries. Therefore, most of the travellers have no ‘Plan B’ if anything was to go wrong in their much awaited trips. Travel insurance offers a cover for a lot of trip related contingencies like loss of passport, trip cancellation and interruption, trip delay, missed flight connection etc.

A major highlight of the travel insurance is that it safeguards one against unforeseen medical contingencies that might happen while you are on your trip. Medical emergencies in a foreign land can not only disrupt the well planned trip but also burn a big hole in one’s pocket, not to mention the distress of finding a trustworthy facility in a foreign land and managing everything all alone.

Medical emergencies

Medical emergencies whether on account of illness or accident can happen anytime, anywhere. In fact, analysis of travel insurance portfolio suggests that the maximum number of claims in a foreign land happen on account of accidents, followed by infectious diseases and gastrointestinal claims.

On a recent trip to Egypt, a traveller had an unfortunate accident where she fell off while enjoying a camel back ride. The initial swelling in the back aggravated and upon visiting the doctor, it was confirmed that she had suffered a fracture in the lower back L1 spine. She was advised to undergo an operative intervention urgently. However, the hospital where she was admitted did not have the appropriate facilities to conduct the same. She had to be brought back to India in a specially arranged air ambulance. The expenses for the entire activity was around $50,000.

Fortunately, the family had bought travel insurance which took care of the financial as well as operational aspects of arranging an air ambulance and ensured that the customer reached India with the requisite medical care in minimum possible time. The average claim size for accidents in the US is about Rs2.5 lakh and in Schengen countries is about Rs 2 lakh.

In another instance, an insured while on a trip to Australia, started experiencing high fever and vomiting. He also complained of dysponea, delirium and was found to be hypotensive. After initial clinical examination and on the basis of blood and urine C/S report, the insured was diagnosed with Urosepsis and was then given supportive care. The insured was discharged on with medications and the cost for the entire process was about $7,500. Imagine bearing this expenditure from one’s own pocket.

The cover doesn’t cost much

Travel insurance does not cost much. Just to give an idea, a seven day trip to anywhere in Asia can be bought at a price lesser than a haircut at a fancy salon. On the other hand, the risk that one carries by not purchasing travel insurance is immense. A foreign trip is one of the most anticipated event for most us, involving immense planning, saving and preparation.

Things do not always go as planned. Having a safety net in the form of travel insurance can ensure that the entire trip is actually taken care of.

Sanjay Datta is chief, underwriting claims and reinsurance, ICICI Lombard

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