Travel insurance is simply a type of insurance that covers the myriad risks that you might encounter on your travels. While a travel insurance policy cannot zap away your travel woes, it can certainly ensure that you are armed with flexibility to react to any unforeseen events and are compensated for the discomfort and monetary loss that may stem from these woes.
When Should You Buy Travel Insurance?
Generally, our travels serve a purpose, and an unanticipated disruption can lead to both monetary loss as well as inconvenience. Travel insurance is a great way to deal with this disruption. There are several other specific benefits that make travel insurance a compelling ask for travellers. Some of these include:
- Medical support: The last thing you want when on vacation is a medical emergency. However, it is not uncommon to find yourself rushing to the hospital Emergency Room (ER) due to a stomach infection or with a broken limb while on a holiday. Medical emergencies can put a big dent in your finances, especially overseas. It is likely that your regular health insurance plan does not cover many medical expenses incurred while travelling. On the other hand, the right travel insurance policy can shield you from such expenses and ensure that you are able to access the right medical care in a foreign country without having to worry about costs.
- Flight cancellations: Nobody likes to have their travel plans upended, especially if the culprit is canceled flights. You don’t want to be stuck at the airport due to a canceled flight, fretting about taking another flight at the last minute which can be a fair bit more expensive. The right travel insurance plan can put the wind beneath your wings, giving you agility and peace of mind.
- Emergency evacuation: The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly underscored that even the best made plans are tenuous at best. There is always an element of uncertainty stemming from geopolitical unrest, natural calamities, or health emergencies. A good travel insurance plan covers the expenses related to evacuation in the case of any such emergencies.
- Additional Benefits: There are additional benefits that can accrue with the right travel insurance plan. These include loss and/or delay of baggage, loss of passport, trip cancellation, personal accident and disability cover, etc.
How To Choose the Right Travel Insurance Plan?
As with any product, you are spoiled for choice when it comes to travel insurance. However, you need to focus on purchasing the ‘right’ travel insurance plan. And, to make the right decision, you should be aware of the different types of travel insurance policies available and give due consideration to factors like coverage provided, riders, exclusions, etc.
There are two main types of travel insurance policies.
- Trip-wise insurance policy: If your travel is a one-time trip then you can choose to purchase a single trip travel insurance. However, if you are a frequent traveller, then you might prefer to opt for a multi-trip travel insurance policy. Some policies even last an entire year and can cover multiple trips to a particular destination. These can be cost effective and reduce the hassle of frequent purchase. Typically, these covers are sold for an individual or you can buy a family cover as well. Several travel insurance companies also offer policies specifically designed for students heading abroad for higher education and for senior citizens vacationing overseas or spending time with family.
- Group travel insurance policy: A group travel insurance policy is a way to provide travel insurance coverage to a group of people that are not a family. It is typically offered to a group of 7 or more travelers on the same trip. While the benefits offered by a group travel insurance policy are similar to the ones offered by a single trip policy, it is more cost effective.
What To Consider Before Buying Travel Insurance?
While the types of travel insurance policies mentioned above are standard in nature, each insurance company will include additional nuances of which you need to be aware. Here are a few things that you need to consider before buying travel insurance.
- coverage: Check what the policy covers and what the policy does not cover. Do not assume that your travel insurance policy will cover every loss that arises on your travels. You should consider coverage for the most common situations – COVID19, medical emergencies, loss of baggage / documents, etc.
- Riders: Most insurance policies will not cover expensive items such as jewelery or electronics or things like adventure sports. If your vacation plans include such things, inquire about their inclusion and buy add-on covers.
- Claims process: The moment of truth for any insurance policy is the claims process. Ensure that you choose a reputable provider who offers seamless and efficient claims settlement. Many providers today offer cashless travel claims settlement as well. Read about insurer experiences on social media or check various insurance aggregator sites for their recommendations.
- Declare any pre-existing medical conditions: If you have any pre-existing medical conditions then you must declare them at the time of purchasing the policy. Failing to do so might result in your policy becoming void.
There was a time when travel insurance didn’t quite figure in the list of things to do before traveling. Today, it is mandatory for several countries as part of their visa requirements. It is also typically offered prolifically by travel agents or travel websites. There is simply no excuse for this to not be a key action on your travel checklist. Just like any other insurance policy, it is ideal if the need to exercise it never arises. But if things go awry, you know you are covered. Travel insurance is no longer simply a ‘good to have’ – it is a ‘must have’ for every traveller. Enjoy the journey, celebrate life.