All about travel insurance

Travel insurance has many advantages – it covers medical emergencies, trip cancellations and baggage or passport loss, among other things.

In the wake of the deadly Las Vegas shooting at a concert that killed 58 people and wounded 489, many news portals brought to light the plight of injured survivors, most without any travel insurance, forced to cough up hefty hospital bills in a foreign city.

They couldn’t have timed it better to drive home the importance of a travel insurance – something we often desist investing in since it’s not mandatory like a car insurance.

Primarily designed to cover the costs and losses resulting from untoward incidents while travelling, their benefits are many. They pay you for sudden trip cancellation or interruption (the non-refundable part of the trip is usually refundable), medical emergencies, and others such as baggage loss or thefts, flight delays, accidents, loss of passport or other important documents, etc. Some even cover damage to personal property or rented equipment such as a rental cars and the ransom amount in case of kidnapping.

One is recommended to purchase a travel insurance at the time of trip booking. Online companies for airplane tickets or travel packages often allow consumers to purchase travel insurance as an added service. But it is best to avoid those as they cost more than buying from a reputed insurance company.

The duration normally ranges from the day of subscribing for the policy to the end of the trip for a single trip or multiple trips within a year, which can be automatically extended. One can have more than one insurance policy at a time.

Here are a few things to consider before buying a travel insurance.

  • Some companies provide coverage costs that would have been refundable anyway. For example, if you purchase a refundable airline ticket, there is no need for an insurance covering trip cancellation. Similarly, coverage for accidental death may not be necessary if you already have a life insurance policy. Make sure you are clear about your exact needs before purchasing an insurance.
  • It would also do you good to understand properly the exact reasons for cancellations that are covered. Make sure that they match your needs and concerns. They may pay you the cancellation amount in case of a sudden illness but may not for other reasons. Similarly, they may cover the cover the cost of a medical emergency but may not cover pre-existing medical conditions.
  • Remember premium will be greater for places such as the US and Canada where health costs are typically high. The premium will also be high in case of longer stays.
  • If you are a frequent flyer, its best to opt for an insurance for multiple trips within a year.
  • Remember, most insurance providers offer round-the-clock assistance on call.

Having understood all that, let’s take a look at some of the travel insurance policies popular in India:

SBI Travel Insurance

Eligibility: Anyone between six months and 70 years

What it covers: Up to 10 percent coverage in case of accidents and 50 percent coverage for personal liability. Loss of passport, baggage and even a hijack is covered.

For a single trip, the coverage is for a minimum of 1 day to a maximum of 180 days. A single trip plan is not renewable. Plan for a multi-trip is capped at one year, but it can be renewed.

Bajaj Allianz Travel Insurance

Eligibility: Anyone up to 75 years of age. They have different plans meant for individuals, families, students and senior citizens.

What it covers: Trip delay or cancellation, hospitalisation expenses, loss of baggage and emergency cash in foreign land.

TATA AIG Travel Insurance

Eligibility: Anyone up to 70 years of age. Again, they have a range of plans to suit different purposes from corporate trips to those meant for students.

What it covers – Accidental death or dismemberment, delay or loss of baggage, loss of passport, personal liability, a hijack, or trip delay or cancellation

Bharati AXA Travel Insurance

Eligibility – Anyone from 3 months to 60 years can avail it. There are different plans to cater to different needs.

What it covers – Emergency medical evacuation or death, accident resulting in death or dismemberment, loss of passport or other travelling documents, flight delay or loss of checked baggage.

HDFC ERGO Travel Insurance

Eligibility: Anyone within 6 months to 70 years with a variety of plans.

What it covers: Emergency medical expenses, dental expenses, emergency hospital cash, accidents, flight delay, loss of checked baggage and passport and flight hijack cover.

Cholamandalam Travel Insurance

Eligibility: Anyone from 3 months to 80 years, senior citizens between 61 years and 70 years

What it covers: Medical emergency during the trip, coverage for any illness or injury, loss of checked baggage, expenses incurred for obtaining a new passport, a hijack

Reliance Travel Insurance

Eligibility: Anyone between 3 months and 60 years of age

What it covers: Emergency evacuations to India, accidents, anaesthetic treatment of teeth, trip delays and cancellations, loss of passport and theft resulting in loss of cash