So you are planning for your dream trip abroad. You have planned your itinerary, figured out your budget, booked your tickets and applied for your visa. But wait; are you missing out on anything? You are, if you have not bought travel insurance. Having travel insurance is as important as having medical insurance to cover your hospital bills and having motor insurance to cover any damage due to an accident. But in spite of being aware, a lot of people do not get travel insurance which means that in event of any emergency, they have to face big financial losses. A survey by ICICI Lombard General Insurance reveals that even as more and more Indians are travelling abroad, only about 35 per cent buy travel insurance. The awareness about travel insurance is high ( 91 per cent) but the reasons for not buying travel insurance ranges from it being too expensive, to the fact that it offers partial reimbursements of medical costs and that it is difficult to make claims, among others. Getting travel insurance is the best way to ensure that if and when things go wrong, you are not left in a mess. While travel insurance is recommended for all trips, including domestic ones, it is a must when travelling abroad. Let us look at 5 reasons why.
- Medical emergencies: Let us say that you fall sick on a trip and need to be immediately hospitalised. Or you meet with an accident. Medical costs in many countries like the United States, Japan and European countries can be thousands of dollars even for minor ailments and injuries and can result in severe financial loss. Travel insurance helps cover such medical costs, including out-patient and in-patient treatment, medical aid, therapies and diagnostic tests up to the sum insured in the policy. By giving details of the insurance policy to a network hospital you can avail cashless treatment. Emergency medical evacuation back to India is covered up to a certain limit. It is important to remember that your medical insurance policy does not cover medical expenses abroad and hence separate travel insurance is required. Travel insurance, however, does not cover pre-existing diseases.
- Loss/delay of baggage: Loss of baggage in international flights is not very uncommon. While the airline would in most cases ensure that you get your luggage back, if you have all essentials packed into your suitcase, you will have to purchase clothing, toiletries and medication on an immediate basis. If you are covered under travel insurance, the insurance company will reimburse such costs up to a certain specified amount when you submit proper documents regarding the delay if such delay is for 12 hours or more. If your luggage is lost permanently, the policy will provide compensation up to a limit.
- Loss of travel documents: Losing important travel documents like the passport is every traveller’s worst nightmare. In that case you have to approach the nearest Indian embassy to obtain a duplicate passport. Travel insurance will reimburse all the expenses you incur in getting a duplicate passport.
- Trip delays: Your trip may get delayed for various reasons including cancellation of an airline, natural calamities or any other disturbance. In such a scenario, travel insurance will cover additional expenses due to the trip delay up to a certain amount if the delay is more than 12 hours. If you are sick or suffer bodily injury and have to be hospitalised, which leads you to miss your flight home, insurance will cover the cost of hotel accommodation.
- Financial emergency cover: If the money you are carrying with you is robbed in course of your trip, having a travel insurance cover would mean that you get an emergency cash advance up to the amount stipulated in the policy. This can come in very handy in a foreign country where you may not have other sources of help.
The extent of risk covered will depend on the type of policy taken and what is covered in the policy. It is important to know what is covered and what is excluded before taking a policy. In most cases, one can buy a travel insurance policy online and no medical tests are required. A few thousand rupees spent on travel insurance can give you peace of mind and provide protection in case things go wrong.