What is travel insurance?

Whether travelling for business, leisure or studies, you would always want the experience to pleasant and fun filled. Though, there only so much that you may plan but sometimes, there are things which can make cause disruptions or make the journey painful. To avoid such unforeseen contingencies giving you a setback financially, one should opt for a travel insurance.

Travel insurancecovers all risks and worries while you are travelling within India or abroad.. The travel insurance policy’s tenure matches the duration of your trip and the policy covers all the members going on the trip. Travel insurance becomes a mandatory requirement if you are visiting any Schengen country. Otherwise, it is optional add on. Travel insurance generally provides you coverage against emergency medical treatments, loss or delay of baggage, trip cancellation, personal accident and other contingencies which are quite common when you are travelling.

Key Benefits & Features of Travel Insurance Policy

A travel insurance policy proves beneficial because of the coverage features it provides. These include the following –

  • You can get coverage for medical emergencies faced when travelling abroad. These might be taking treatments, medical evacuation, or accidental dental treatments. Since international treatments are quite costly, they might burn a hole in your pockets in the absence of a travel insurance plan.
  • Loss of your baggage or delay in arrival of your baggage causes inconvenience. By covering these contingencies, a travel insurance plan makes your trip worry free.
  • You also get coverage for accidental injuries, death or disablement suffered when travelling.
  • Other benefits include coverage for loss of passport, emergency cash advance when you lose your wallet or face sudden expenses, hijack allowance, etc.
  • Travel insurance is also available with trip cancellation coverage, which helps you get your money back which you spent on advance bookings. There are two options – cancellation for specific reasons and cancellation for any reason. The travel insurance amount may vary as per the option chosen.
  • There is also a cover for third party liability which helps you in case you injure any individual or damage someone’s property when you are travelling.

When it comes to the features of a travel insurance policy, the following are the main points –

  • The duration of the policy is the duration of your trip
  • All the members travelling together are covered under one policy
  • You can select the sum insured based on your requirement
  • You should select a suitable travel insurance policy from the different types of plans available
  • There are add-on covers too which enhance the scope of coverage

Why you should buy travel insurance policy

A travel insurance policy is a must for your travel plans. However, it is, usually, given a miss because people don’t understand why travel insurance should be bought. Here are the reasons why you should buy a travel insurance plan –

  • You get coverage for medical emergencies – Medical complications faced when travelling abroad is common. In case of such complications, you might be forced to seek medical treatments or medical evacuation. The cost of such treatments and evacuation can be huge. It might not be possible for you to bear such costs all by yourself. A travel insurance policy provides you comprehensive coverage for such medical emergencies and thus saves you the financial burden.
  • Other smaller contingencies are also covered – besides the all-too-important medical coverage, travel insurance plans also cover for smaller inconveniences like delay of your checked-in baggage, loss of baggage, loss of passport, hijack allowance, etc. Thus, you get financial assistance even for smaller contingencies.
  • Trip cancellation is covered– due to any unavoidable circumstance you might have to cancel an already planned trip. When you do so, the advance payments made on ticket bookings and hotel accommodations are a financial loss. A travel insurance plan covers this loss thus coming in handy in case of unforeseen cancellations.
  • Your personal liability is also covered– if you injure an individual or damage someone’s property during the trip, you might be financially liable for such injury or loss. This financial liability is shouldered by your travel insurance plan taking your financial burden away.

Types of Travel Insurance Policy

With specific coverage benefits to suit needs of people and as per type of trip being taken . There are different types of travel insurance plans available–

  • International travel insurance policy – this policy covers international trips taken either for business or leisure purposes. This policy is further subdivided into three different categories based on the destination of the trip. These sub-divisions are as follows –
  • Worldwide excluding USA and Canada – this policy covers all the countries of the world except USA and Canada
  • Worldwide including USA and Canada – this policy covers trips taken anywhere in the world and includes trips taken to USA and Canada too
  • Asia – this is a specified policy covering countries in the Asian sub-continent
  • Domestic travel insurance policy– this policy covers trips taken within India. Since the scope of risk incurred in domestic trips is low, the policy has a limited sum insured and coverage features.
  • Senior citizen travel insurance plans – these travel insurance plans are designed especially for covering individuals over 60 years of age who are going on a trip. Since the requirement of senior citizens are different and the risk is higher, the policy is designed keeping in mind such requirements and risks of senior citizens.
  • Single trip travel insurance policy – this travel insurance plan covers one trip only. The trip start date and the trip end date should be mentioned and the duration of the policy would be from that start and end date.
  • Annual multi-trip insurance policy – this is an annual travel insurance policy which covers multiple trips taken during the year. Coverage extends for 365 days and there is no specified duration of each trip. The policy is suitable for business needs where individuals often embark on a business trip. The policy cuts down on the hassles of buying a single trip plan every time the individual goes on a trip. Moreover, the policy is also cheaper than various single trip travel insurance plans bought for frequent trips taken during the year.
  • Student travel insurance policy– this is also a specially designed travel insurance plan meant for students who are travelling abroad for higher education. The plan covers the student for any contingencies faced during his/her stay abroad for studies. There are unique coverage features too which are designed keeping in mind the needs of students studying abroad.
  • Family Travel Insurance Policy – this policy covers the family travelling together on a trip. All the family members can be covered under a single plan.
  • Individual Travel Insurance Policy – under an individual travel insurance policy, coverage is given for a single individual travelling alone.

Top 10 Travel Insurance Policies in India

There are a variety of travel insurance plans in India. Out of the various plans, here are the top 10 plans for you travel insurance needs –

  1. HDFC Ergo Family Travel Insurance Policy – HDFC Ergo is a leading general insurance company. The plan offers all the necessary coverage features including medical evacuation and has a wide variety of plans.
  2. HDFC Ergo Student Travel Insurance Suraksha – a student travel policy with wide coverage features including study interruption, sponsor protection, psychological coverage and even coverage for expecting mothers
  3. Bharti AXA Non-Schengen Country Insurance – an international travel plan which covers non-Schengen countries including USA and Canada
  4. Bharti AXA Annual Multi-trip Insurance – a multi-trip insurance policy which comes in different variants of Silver, Gold and Platinum
  5. TATA AIG Domestic Travel Guard Policy – a travel plan covering domestic trips which provides quite comprehensive coverage benefits
  6. Royal Sundaram Travel Insurance – an international travel insurance plan where you get inbuilt coverage for home insurance and also automatic extension of your policy
  7. New India Overseas Mediclaim – an international travel plan for business and holiday travel. You get coverage for up to 500, 000 USD with minimal deductibles
  8. Future Generali Schengen and Worldwide plan – a comprehensive plan which covers individuals up to 70 years of age and is issued easily
  9. TATA AIG Asia Travel Guard plan – a specifically designed policy covering trips taken within Asia. The plan covers medical sickness and accidental contingencies and also repatriation
  10. New India Overseas Mediclaim ES Plan – the plan is an annual multi-trip plan covering business professionals travelling frequently. The coverage is comprehensive while the premium is very affordable.

How to select a travel insurance plan on your needs?

There are different travel insurance plans available in the market. Each plan has a unique set of coverage features. When buying a travel insurance plan you should first identify the type of plan you would require. If you are a frequent business traveller, an annual multi-trip plan is good. On the other hand, if you are travelling on a family vacation, a single trip plan would be sufficient. Once you understand the type of plan required, understand the coverage features you would need.

Compare the different plans based on their coverage features and buy a plan which suits your needs. Make sure all members are covered if they are travelling with you. Lastly, enter your trip start date and end date to fix the duration of your policy.

Travel Insurance Plan Inclusions

The following inclusions are found in all travel insurance plans –

  • Medical emergencies including evacuation – this feature covers the costs incurred on medical treatments or evacuations if the insured faces a medical emergency when travelling
  • Loss of checked-in baggage
  • Delay of checked-in baggage
  • Trip delay
  • Trip cancellation or curtailment
  • Loss of passport
  • Personal accident which includes accidental death, dismemberment or disablement
  • Repatriation of mortal remains
  • Dental treatments which arise due to unforeseen accidents
  • Personal financial liability
  • Emergency cash advance in case of financial emergency faced during the trip

Besides these universal inclusions, there are other coverage features which vary across plans. These include the following –

  • Hijack allowance
  • Home insurance
  • Compassionate visit
  • Flight delay
  • Missed flight connection
  • Bail bond (for student travel insurance)
  • Daily hospitalisation allowance
  • Legal expenses
  • Loss of personal belongings, etc.

Travel Insurance plan Exclusions

Though travel insurance plans have a lot of coverage features, there are some common exclusions too. Contingencies which are due to these exclusions are not covered by a travel insurance plan. Some common exclusions are as follows –

  • Trips which are exclusively taken with the purpose of availing medical treatments
  • Trips which are taken against the advice of your medical practitioner
  • Contingencies arising due to war or war-like situations like riots, rebellions, mutiny, etc.
  • Medical emergencies faced when participating in hazardous activities and adventure sports like scuba diving, parasailing, bungee jumping, etc.
  • Medical complications faced due to HIV/AIDS infection or maternity related cases
  • Any type of pre-existing illnesses and medical complications arising out of them
  • Injuries which result due to suicide or are self-inflicted in nature
  • Injuries incurred under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Nuclear contamination or radioactive contamination
  • Any type of anxiety, depression or mental disorder
  • Cosmetic treatments unless they are necessitated by an accident, etc.

What are the Additional Coverage of Travel Insurance Plan

The additional coverage features of travel insurance plans allow you to enhance the scope of the policy’s coverage by paying an additional premium. However, some additional coverage features might be inbuilt in the plan. The common add-on covers available with many travel insurance plans are as follows –

  • Cover for compassionate visit of a family member – If you face a medical contingency and avail medical treatments abroad, this cover would pay for the return air- ticket of one family member.
  • Home burglary insurance cover -This add on covers your home in your absence. Under this cover, any loss suffered by you because of a theft in your house, during your travel is covered. Under some plans, damages to your house are also covered.
  • Loss of personal belongings cover – Wherein your personal belongings like camera, laptop, mobile phone, etc. are covered if they are lost or stolen during your travel
  • Coverage for legal expenses incurred when you defend yourself against any third party claim

Eligibility/Documentation Required for Travel Insurance Policy

To buy a travel insurance plan, there is no particular eligibility requirement. If you are travelling and are free from any severe ailments, you can buy the plan easily. For documentation purposes, the following might be required –

  • Copy of your travel tickets
  • Copy of Visa, if you are travelling abroad
  • Age proofs of all the members travelling
  • Identity proof of all travellers
  • Photographs of all travellers
  • An address proof might also be required
  • The proposal form of the travel insurance plan you have selected. The form should be duly filled with all the required information and signed by the proposer
  • Lastly, you have to pay the required premium for your policy to be issued

How to get cashless hospitalization in Travel Insurance

If you want to get cashless hospitalisation in your travel insurance plan, you should follow the below-mentioned steps –

  • You should call the international helpline number of the insurance company or it’s service provider. The insurance company has an international tie-up with various providers who help you with your claims. You should have contact details of customer support and claim desk of the service provider with you.
  • The service provider would inform you of the tied-up hospital wherein you can get cashless treatment facility
  • You should seek admission in the prescribed hospital, fill the relevant forms and submit the required documents to get cashless claim settlement of your medical bills

How to Claim on Travel Insurance Policy

To claim on your travel insurance plan, follow these steps –

  • Call your insurance company immediately when you face a contingency which is covered by your travel insurance plan
  • Your insurer might ask you to call the company’s TPA (Third Party Administrator) available in the country of your travel. Alternatively, you can directly call the insurance company’s TPA and notify it about the claim. This TPA is tied-up with the insurance company to help you with your claim. The details of the TPA are mentioned in your policy document.
  • Fill in a prescribed claim form available with the TPA or the insurance company’s website
  • Submit the relevant documents and the proofs required by the TPA and the insurance company
  • Your claim would be assessed and then settled.

In order to ensure the settlement of your claim, follow the directions given by the TPA and file your claims within 30 days of occurrence of contingency.

Details & Documents required for travel insurance claim filing

To file a valid travel insurance claim, the following documents might be required to be submitted with the insurance company and/or the insurance company’s international tied-up service provider –

  • Copy of your passport wherein the travel start and end dates are available
  • Visa with entry and exit stamps
  • Copy of the ticket or boarding pass
  • Original bills and invoices showing the expenses incurred
  • For medical claims – original hospital bills, discharge certificate, admission certificate, medical reports and all other relevant documents pertaining to the treatments availed
  • Any other bill and invoice as required by the service provider or insurance company
  • A duly filled in claim form signed by the policyholder
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