It is summer time and many of us would like to fly abroad to international vacations on holidays. Travelling abroad especially with family members has its own share of risks but there are travel insurance plans that come handy before packing bags for the offshore locations.
Make sure you have a comprehensive travel insurance policy and know what the inclusions and exclusions are there in the policy. After all, you don’t want your trip to play spoilsport for any misadventures.
A typical travel insurance policy will offer coverage against lost passport, lost checked-in baggage, trip delays amongst other benefits. Most insurers offer plans specially designed for Asia, Schengen, USA & Canada, and other countries, and also have customized plans for family trips, solo travellers, senior citizens, and students studying abroad. Generally, medical coverage of at least Euro 30,000 is compulsory to get a Schengen Visa.
What type of travel cover to choose
If you are travelling with family members, you may either buy cover for each of them separately or a family floater kind of a plan that will include all members for a specific sum insured. Better to compare the premium of both of them based on the age of members and then decide. “There are customized travel insurance policies available as per the trip planned. “Solo travellers can opt for the individual plan while a family can opt for a family floater plan. Senior citizens in the age bracket of 71 years to 80 years can opt for senior citizen plans,” says Dr. Shreeraj Deshpande (Principal Officer & CEO (Officiating), Future Generali India Insurance.
But, in specific cases such as for a student going abroad for studies, there are special student travel covers. “Student Travel insurance is designed for students, enrolled in medium to long term courses. It has special coverages for study interruption, sponsor protection, inter-collegiate sports’ injuries, bail bonds etc., besides coverages for medical expenses and travel related eventualities. The Student Travel Guard is globally accepted and university wise waiver formalities are also being supported by us. It’s always best to go with insurer having worldwide network presence, exemplary servicing capabilities and a hassle-free claim settlement track record,” says Parag Ved, Executive Vice President, Consumer Lines, TataAIG General Insurance Company.
Choice of plan version is important
Most insurers have more than one version of a travel insurance plan. Choosing the right one is very important from the claim point of view. While a basic version may have a lower premium but may not provide adequate coverage or may have fewer features. Similarly, a premium version may pack-up several features which may not even require specific to your travel. “A basic policy offers a lower sum insured options with basic covers like Medical Care, Personal Accident, Legal Liability. A premium version will provide higher sum insured with additional features like Trip cancellation, Trip curtailment, Missed connection and Special Care covers like Automatic extension up to 7 days, Burglary (Home Contents), Child Escort etc.”, informs Dr. Deshpande.
Is insurance provided by airlines not enough
While booking flight ticket most airlines offer insurance policies. Most airline insurance policies cover – Trip Cancellation & Curtailment, Loss of checked in baggage, Personal Accident, Emergency Medical expenses, Emergency Evacuation and Repatriation amongst other related costs. But, will it be enough to get comprehensive coverage from them? “Baggage loss and baggage delay are the common perils encountered while air travelling, which is covered by travel insurance. However, in Airlines Insurance, the coverage is available only when the baggage is in the custody of the common carrier, which in most cases is the airline. You should keep in mind that the policy will cover only checked-in baggage and delay in receiving baggage outside Indian boundaries. Many travellers think their airlines will reimburse them in case they miss their flights due to connecting flight delays or in case of flight cancellations, but most airlines do not reimburse unless it’s for some grave, unavoidable reason. More often than not, the fine prints in airline insurance make it nearly impossible to get any coverages. Also, in case you have to cancel your flight due to illness or an emergency, you are left high and dry without insurance,” says Ved.
Also, there could be a medical exigency while one is abroad. “The biggest reason to buy a travel insurance policy is to make sure your medical costs are covered. We should not compare the medical costs with Indian treatment costs, we have to compare it with treatments abroad, which are way more expensive. Also, due to an emergency if someone needs to extend their trip or abandon it, that time also, travel insurance comes handy. Lastly, some visa applications also mandate a travel insurance policy to be bought before going abroad,” informs Adarsh Agarwal, Appointed Actuary, Digit Insurance.
Some travel insurance plans even offer coverage even before the trip has started. “Travel insurance compensates for the trip that is cancelled on account of any medical emergency that the traveller or his/ her companion or either of their family members may encounter, prior to the journey. Insurance compensates for the entire portion that is not refunded by the travel agent or organizer which was paid as an advance or the full booking amount,” adds Ved.
What to do
Having an insurance plan is a step well-taken however, there could be many a slip between the cup and the lip. “One area where we’ve seen a concern is in people’s understanding of ‘Time Excess in context of Missed Connection’ which is the minimum time gap one must maintain between the connecting flights for the benefit to be valid,” says Agarwal. It is important to read the benefits included as well as exclusions in the plan to avoid any last minute surprises. And, before you, the fly-off, get a travel insurance policy well in advance to avoid last minute hassles.