Travel Insurance – Do I Need Travel Insurance
Do I need travel insurance? Read on . . . A few months back I met Mrs. and Mr. Verma (old family friends) at a party. They were full of plans and excitement about their visit to the United States which was due two weeks later. This was their fourth visit and they were looking forward to spending some quality time with their children and their grandchildren.
They told me that they would be staying there for about six months. I wished them luck, goodbye, season’s greetings, etc., as I did not expect to see them for quite some time.
Eight Weeks Later
I met Mrs. and Mr. Verma again; though Mr. Verma appeared to be limping a little. I was surprised and I assumed that their trip had been cancelled or postponed for some reason. I asked if they weren’t supposed to be in the US and this is what Mr. Verma told me—although a little sheepishly. They had travelled thrice before and had always bought travel insurance. At the end of each visit this seemed like an unnecessary expenditure because nothing ever went wrong; they did not lose their luggage, they did not need any medical help when abroad, etc.
So this time they decided to be penny wise (but pound foolish) and thought that they should save on the money spent on travel insurance. To cut a long story short Mr. Verma had a minor accident in the US; it required regular visits to the doctor and physiotherapy for his leg. He was unable to get all this medical care as he had no insurance so he was forced to travel back to India.
Moral of the Story: Everybody needs Travel Insurance.
As per the U.S. Travel Insurance Association, the number of people buying travel insurance went up from 10% to 30% post 9/11 and the top three reasons were
- peace of mind,
- protection against the unexpected and
- concern over losing the financial investment in a trip.
Having travel insurance helps you to be at peace while travelling especially if you are travelling abroad and protects you from unnecessary financial worries. Like Mr. Verma in the above example a travel insurance policy would have helped him in getting the right treatment and he would not have been forced to cut short his trip. Some countries like UK, Austria, Spain, Greece, Portugal, France, Belgium, etc., make it mandatory to have travel insurance.
What Does Travel Insurance Cover?
Having the right travel insurance can pretty much take care of all that can go wrong during travel. Here is what a comprehensive travel insurance policy covers.
This is the most important factor and goes a long way in making your stay comfortable. Your policy should ensure that you get the right kind of medical attention in case required; make sure you are aware of the places where you can get treatment. It is important that you get cashless hospitalization as arranging for foreign currency in another country can prove to be quite a harrowing task.
Travel insurance also provides you relief from other unfortunate but common problems while travelling. These include loss or delay in receiving baggage, delay or cancellation of trip, loss of passport, liability occurring due to an accident, etc. Some policies also cover your home while you are away so that you are totally at peace while travelling.
Choosing the Right Policy
Choosing the right policy is also important because you don’t want to pay an unnecessarily high premium but you do not want to take inadequate coverage also. Here a few things that can help you in deciding about the right policy.
I. Type of Policy
Insurance companies have designed different policies that suit the needs of different types of travelers. So be sure to choose the right one.
- Insurance for Single Visits: These policies cover you and your family for a specific visit and specific time duration.
- Frequent Traveler Insurance: These policies are designed to cater to the needs of frequent travelers, which mean that they cover multiple trips where the duration of the stay is short. For a frequent traveler it is much cheaper to buy a frequent traveler than buy a separate policy for each trip.
- Insurance for Senior Citizens: Different companies have different policies for senior citizens; each company may have a different cutoff age but generally these policies are more expensive as compared to normal travel policies for obvious reasons, ICICI Lombard has an interesting name for it they call it the Salt and Pepper policy.
- Policies for Adventurous Visits: In case you are going to Australia for a holiday and plan to indulge in some adventure sports there you could take an additional rider on your existing policy but in case you are going out exclusively for adventure sports then it is better to buy a policy that is suited for that.
2. Amount of Insurance Coverage
You must decide about how much coverage you want. This will depend on the place you are visiting and what you intend to do there. The coverage must not be too little but should not be too much either. Usually the major variation is in the medical coverage provided but you must also check the coverage amount for other accidents or events like passport loss, baggage loss or delay etc.
3. What is Covered and Not Covered?
Please clearly understand what your policy covers and what it does not cover. Most policies do not cover pre-existing illnesses, drug addiction etc. and sports activities so if you plan to indulge in adventure sports make sure to check your policy guidelines for it. Apart from regular problems, policies also cover extreme situations likes repatriation of remains or medical evacuations, etc.
Example: Ajit and his wife went to Australia and there during bungee jumping he hurt his ankle; on contacting his insurance company he was told that this was not covered as it was an injury due to a sports activity.
Despite having a fancy travel insurance policy he was left high-and-dry in a foreign land. So always be sure of what your policy excludes.
4. Cashless Hospitalization
Always opt for a policy that offers cashless hospitalization and check who their partners are in the country you are visiting; also check whom to contact and what are the formalities required in case of an emergency.
Conclusion – Travel Insurance
Sometimes buying travel insurance may seem irrelevant and unnecessary, but it goes a long way in ensuring that you are at peace. Although you might not want it, sometimes it may prove to be extremely important (just like the Vermas, who learned it the hard way). You can buy these policies easily online without any hassles or delay so, bon voyage!
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