Most of us conveniently uncheck the Travel Insurance option while booking tickets just to save a few hundred bucks. Cancelled flights, delayed trains, and loss of baggage – well, these are just part of travellers’ tales. This would never happen to you. Or so you think!
Then you find yourself sparing around at the airport, with only your third cup of stale coffee for company, awaiting the arrival of your flight, delayed by 5 hours for reasons best known to the airline. At this time, your thoughts race back to the Travel Insurance page and you think remorsefully about the little box that you had nonchalantly unchecked. Had you opted for the Travel Insurance plan, the thought of getting reimbursed would have at least helped diminish your discomfort.
This is a small example to stress the need to pack Travel Insurance along with all your fancy holiday bags. Know this: that if things go haywire on your local or global travels, Travel Insurance will always have your back.
We know that the umpteen number of Travel Insurance plans available in the market only make the choice harder. Hence, we have identified a few Travel Insurance tips to keep in mind for your global and domestic travel.
Let’s Get Global
A Travel Insurance plan for your trips abroad must be more detailed than the one for your local travels. We hope not, but what if you lose your baggage, documents, your flight gets delayed, or you get stranded in a foreign land due to some sort of political unrest? You must be prepared for all contingencies.
First things first. What kind of Travel Insurance do you need? If you have been bitten by the travel bug, then getting a multi-travel Insurance plan is a feasible option. If it’s a one-off trip, whether with your family or solo, it’ll be more economical to buy a single trip plan. In case of a family holiday, it’s wiser to sign up for a comprehensive group Travel Insurance plan rather than individual travel plans.
With the basic requirements understood, it’s time to look at what your Travel Insurance should cover if you are travelling abroad.
Trip Delays And Cancellation: Trip cancellation and delays are among the most common issues faced by travellers. Make sure your Travel Insurance plan offers reimbursement for delayed and cancelled flights. When talking about flight delays, most insurance plans accept a claim under the condition that the flight was delayed for a minimum number of hours. Make sure you have the details on this clause. Ask your insurance company if they will cover non-refundable tickets and all other expenses that arise out of a delay. The more costs your insurance plan covers, the better it will be.
Missing Connecting Flights: Delayed and cancelled flights can have a domino effect on your connecting flights and hotel booking – some of which might be non-refundable. Make sure your insurance plan takes care of these costs too. If you miss your connecting flights, or your hotel booking gets cancelled due to the delay, make sure your insurance plan covers you for these losses.
Loss Of Checked-In Baggage: After flight delays and cancellation, the next most common issue faced by travellers in loss of checked-in baggage or damage to bags. It’s soul destroying to lose your baggage on an international holiday. Imagine having to brave the whole trip sporting cheap souvenir t-shirts and ill-fitting pants procured in a panicked hurry at the only souvenir kiosk at the airport? It’ll hurt more if you lose your baggage on your return trip. All that shopping gone with the wind. Make sure your insurance plan covers loss or damage to your check-in baggage.
What About Hotel Deposit Money: Ok, you haven’t booked a hotel room, but paid a deposit to block it. Now you cannot avail the booking because your flight got delayed. Now all that deposit money is lost. Yes, this should be covered by your insurance plan too. After all, you paid for it from your pocket and these are the kind of expenses you want to insure against, arising from events that are beyond your control.
Loss Of Anything From Passport To Documents: None of us are consciously careless, but once in a while, even the most seasoned travellers can misplace their passport, documents, laptop and other items of relevance. Misplacing your documents on a trip abroad is a painful experience. All that paperwork in a foreign land, not to mention spending most of your time at your country’s embassy waiting for your temporary passport. While Travel Insurance can’t help you much with the process, it can definitely cover the money costs. All that you pay to get a new passport or documents, or something like a laptop, will be covered by your insurance plan.
Emergency Fund: You need an emergency fund while travelling. Yes, you do. What if you lose all your cash, cards and all other sources of money? God forbid, but what if you get robbed or mugged? An international Travel Insurance plan will help you with the necessary cash to get out of such a mucky situation. Hey, remember, Insurance won’t help if you run out of money because of your spendthrift ways.
Personal Accident Or Liability: If you run into an accident on a foreign holiday, which leads to death or disability in some form, your Travel Insurance will come to your rescue. Likewise, if you find yourself in a position where you need to cough up cash for causing damage to another person or their property, Insurance will be like your friend who will stand by you through tough times.
Medical Cover: This is the most important component of your Travel Insurance. Medical costs outside India are high. Make sure your Travel Insurance covers you thoroughly for medical emergencies. In case you run into a medical emergency, insurance will provide you with a daily allowance for a certain number of days. These conditions could differ from plan to plan. Make this bit the strongest part of your Insurance plan even if you have to pay a little extra for it.
Compassionate Visit: Now if you are hospitalised at your holiday destination, it’s absolutely normal for someone from your immediate family to want to come, meet and take care of you. In such a case, insurance will fund the round-trip and staying expenses of one member. This facility is available if the insured person is hospitalised for more than seven days consecutively.
Repatriation Arrangements: Some Travel Insurance plans, especially those designed for international trips, in the unfortunate event of your demise, will cover all arrangements, handling and required payments for repatriation of remains.
Emergency Evacuation: When travelling abroad, it’s always a good idea to see whether your Travel Insurance plan includes emergency evacuation i.e. doctor-coordinated emergency evacuation and transport back to your home country for medical reasons.
Some Travel Insurance companies will even pay for your flight home if you need to return due to an emergency. Find out about these options before signing on the dotted line.
Protect Your Home In Your Home Country: You have insured your trip through and through, but you are leaving behind valuable assets back home. Maybe your house itself? Anything can happen to your property when you are away. It’s important that you keep it insured too. Most insurance providers cover your house against fire or damage due to natural calamities in your absence. You also have protection in case burglars break into your house while you’re away.
Bail And Legal Costs: Jailed abroad, eh? We would recommend that you stay away from anything that lands you in jail, but if you do find yourself in such a situation, well, insurance will help pay the bail money and all other legal charges.
So those are the many things an International Travel Insurance plan must cover. And then there are many things an Insurance plan won’t cover. You need to be aware of those as well.
What doesn’t an Insurance Plan cover?
In many cases, an Insurance plan won’t cover medical or accident costs if the cause was due to sporting activities. Also, with a rise in terrorist activities globally, many insurance companies have begun providing cover against acts of terrorism. However, this offering is very nascent and might not be offered by all insurance providers. So, while you run a check of all that is available under an Insurance plan, also look for all that that is not covered. It’s better not to be surprised in these matters.
Claim History And Network
While taking an Insurance policy, it’s important to check the Insurance company’s claim history and network. Claim history will tell you the percentage of claims successfully closed (look for IRDA data) and details about the network will tell you about the company’s global presence. Both requirements need to be strong to ensure that your claims are settled easily and in any part of the world. A lot of Indian Insurance companies partner with foreign companies to make the claim process hassle-free. Make sure you are aware of these joint ventures, if any.
To conclude, don’t go for the default insurance plan that comes with your ticket booking. Search and compare plans online and then customise it as much as you can. This will allow you to get the full benefit of a Travel Insurance plan. Also, if you are travelling with your family opt for a family plan, rather individuals ones.
Additional Reading: All About Student Travel Insurance
Let’s Get Local
With the international trip covered, it’s time to look at domestic travel. What should you pack in your Travel Insurance plan for domestic holidays?
Loss Of Ticket: Yes, this can happen during domestic travels as well, and pinches as much as it would for international travels (well, almost). Yes, you carry your ticket on your phone. What if you lose your e-ticket? Technology tends to go amuck when it has all the data you most need. Murphy’s Law.
Missed Or Delayed Flight: Ok, you missed your flight. Well, you’ll have to catch the next one. What about the cost? Your Travel Insurance will pay for it, but keep an eye out for terms and conditions. Insurance will pay if you missed your flight due to your vehicle breaking down or you having an accident. Travel Insurance plans also cover delayed or cancelled flights. To get a refund due to a delayed flight, the flight has to be delayed for a certain number of hours. Think of all those foggy, winter mornings in Delhi when flights are delayed by as much as 6 hours.
Baggage Loss: Domestic Travel Insurance plans cover loss of baggage too. If your luggage gets lost or damaged by flight attendants, call the Insurance guys while you deal with the airport authorities.
Accommodation Charges: You missed your flight due to which you’ll lose your accommodation. You’ll have to search for a new place again, but Travel Insurance will help you cover the cost of lost accommodation. In short, Travel Insurance is one way to hedge yourself against the evil non-refundable rule.
Medical Insurance: If you don’t already have Medical Insurance, it’s imperative that you get it with your Travel Insurance plan. If you already have a Medical Insurance plan, it should suffice for your local travels. Make sure that your Medical Insurance plan also offers accident benefits.
All the above rules broadly apply if you travel by trains. Aren’t Indian trains infamous for running late? And, baggage theft… We’ve all heard stories of the vanishing bags after passengers are lulled to sleep by the rhythmic motion of the train.
Insurance for domestic travels is relatively simpler than for international trips. Your Medical and Term Life Insurance plans will provide you sufficient cover in case of a mishap on the trip.
Additional Reading: 10 Things To Do Before Claiming Travel Insurance
Next time you plan a holiday, keep these pointers in mind when getting a Travel Insurance plan. Remember, even the best-planned trips don’t always go according to plan. Hence, Travel Insurance!