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Planning to travel overseas? Be well-insured

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Planning to travel overseas? Be well-insured

Sunday, 26 January 2020 | Rohan Kumar

Planning to travel overseas? Be well-insured

Not many are aware that there exist a variety of customised travel insurance plans that offer region or risk-specific cover, writes Rohan Kumar

When travelling abroad, travel insurance is no longer considered optional. Escalating costs of healthcare, theft and loss combined with availability of affordable insurance makes it a no-brainer.

Take an example of a couple honeymooning in Thailand with plans for sightseeing and adventure sports. While a regular insurance would cost a few hundred rupees, any health emergency and evacuation could end up costing tens of thousands of dollars. Hospitals, even in Asia, can easily cost US$ 500 a day. Stolen papers, wallets, baggage — stories all too common for most travellers — are also covered in most plans. In the case of such travels, care should be taken to ensure that accidents during adventure sports are covered in the policy they purchase.

A variety of customised travel plans are region or risk-specific, like it is mandatory for an individual to have a Schengen travel insurance policy or a health insurance plan along with the Schengen Visa. Schengen travel insurance policies generally include benefits like emergency medical expenses, repatriation, accidental bodily injury, death or permanent disability, extended protection for the family, etc in Schengen countries. Meanwhile, to provide an effortless globe-trotting experience to senior citizens there is comprehensive travel insurance that has additional benefits like cashless medical services, medical concierge services, state-of-the-art health care facilities, distress allowance, etc. Many travellers are unaware that their travel insurance can be extended if their stay is prolonged. Different insurers offer specific extension periods depending on the travel destination and the type of traveller.

There are niche products in the market as well, depending on the kind of travel you are planning: coverage for races and adventure sports like bungee jumping, mountaineering and parasailing, plans that cover medical costs pertaining to pre-existing conditions by offering a waiver to the exclusion, kidnapping etc are some of the value add-ons available for policies. We’re hearing of policies that will cover “ cold feet cancellation” for guests heading to a destination wedding, or inconveniences related to being hijacked — a daily benefit if you are delayed in reaching your destination due to this.

A good idea when choosing insurance policies is to first take a look at what is covered in your existing plans — sometimes your homeowners or renters’ policies will cover valuables, or your health insurance will cover emergencies abroad. Next, look at any risks you are taking on the trip(s) you are covering (scuba diving, hiking, cruises may require a niche policy), and then choose a policy that covers them all.

Another thing to consider while buying a travel plan is to keep an eye out for the deductible. The deductible is the amount that the policyholder agrees to pay if they need to make a claim. The insurance company then reimburses the costs over and above that amount. With most travel insurance policies, the deductible is applied to emergency medical care costs. It may also extend to baggage or trip cancellation/interruption coverage. Insurers usually offer a range of deductible amounts. Generally, higher the amount, the greater the discount on the premium. So, adding a deductible is especially beneficial for people paying high premiums-e.g., those staying abroad for months at a time. The growing trend is for policies that have a zero deductible, meaning there will be no out-of-pocket expenses if a claim is filed with the insurance company. In countries with extremely high medical costs, like the United States, finding an insurance plan with a zero deductible is always wise and almost imperative.

In the event of buying insurance online (obviously the most convenient option), the customers should consider checking the travel insurance coverage, quote for the travel duration, claim settlement ratio and ease of contacting customer care. Fine print matters — accidents under the influence of intoxicants are not covered, acts of war or terrorism are often not covered — but for all purposes, if you don’t have time to go through the various checklists, remember that the important thing is to be covered.

The writer is an insurance expert; CEO & co-founder, Toffee Insurance

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