Going on a trip is a joyous experience for all. You get to take a break from your routine life and relax. You also get to bond with your loved ones as you spend some quality time with them. Moreover, the thrill of exploring new places is also exhilarating. That is why everyone loves to travel and a vacation is planned with great excitement and enthusiasm. But what if your perfectly planned trip goes awry.
Uncertainties cannot be predicted. What you believe to be a relaxing holiday can become stressed when any unforeseen emergency strikes you. When that happens, you not only get mental stress but financial stress too. When you are travelling to an unknown place and if you face unexpected contingencies, finding help in an unknown land might prove difficult. Moreover, it would also incur additional financial expenses which might overshoot your travel budget and cause a financial strain. Would you be able to handle the strain yourself? What about emergency medical hospitalisation abroad? Would you be able to meet the expensive costs from your own pockets?
Travelling is fraught with risks and that is why a travel insurance plan is recommended to cover your trips. Though the plan is essential to cover your trips, many of you don’t understand the concept of travel insurance and that is why you don’t invest in the plan. So, let’s understand what travel insurance is all about and why it is essential.
History of PLI India Post
The concept of Postal Life Insurance was first floated in the year 1884 when the Secretary of State to Her Majesty approved life insurance schemes for the employees of the post office. In the year 1888, the scheme expanded its scope and covered the employees of the Telegraph department as well. Later on, in the year 1894, female employees in the Postal and Telegraph departments were also covered under PLI which was a first in the history of insurance.
PLI India Post is the oldest life insurance company in India. Initially, the plans offered under Postal Life Insurance provided coverage of up to INR 4000 only. However, in recent times, the limit has increased. Nowadays, you can enjoy coverage of up to INR 50 lakhs in aggregate under different types of post insurance schemes.
What is travel insurance?
A travel insurance policy is one which covers the financial losses that you might suffer when you are travelling. Travel insurance plans cover you for the duration of your trip and help you meet with financial emergencies that you might face on such a trip.
Features of travel insurance
Here are some notable features which you can find in travel insurance policies –
- There are different types of travel insurance plans available in the market. Each type of plan caters to a particular type of trip that you are undertaking
- The sum insured is expressed in US Dollars and ranges from $25,000 to $500,000
- The coverage duration is the duration of your trip
- If you are travelling to Schengen countries, buying travel insurance would be a must
- The premiums for travel insurance policies are very low
Types of travel insurance plans in India
In India, you can find the following types of travel insurance policies for your travels –
- International travel insurance plans
These plans cover trips taken abroad. International travel insurance plans can also be further sub-divided into countries that they cover. There are plans which cover all countries except the USA and Canada and then there are those which cover all countries including USA and Canada. You can also find a specific plan for Asia, Japan and Schengen countries.
- Domestic travel insurance plans
Contrary to international travel insurance plans, domestic travel insurance plans cover trips taken within India itself. You can travel anywhere in India and buy a domestic travel insurance plan for covering your travel risks.
- Student travel insurance plans
Student travel insurance plans are those which cover students who are travelling abroad for higher education. These plans have some specific coverage benefits for such travelling students.
- Senior citizen travel insurance plans
As the name suggests, senior citizen travel insurance plans are meant to cover senior citizens (individuals aged 60 years and above) when they are going on a trip.
- Single trip travel insurance plans
Single trip travel insurance plans cover one trip for a specified number of days.
- Annual multi trip travel insurance plans
Annual multi-trip plans are those travel insurance plans which cover multiple trips taken within a year. If you are a frequent traveller, buying single trip travel insurance plans might prove expensive and inconvenient. In such cases you can invest in an annual multi trip travel insurance plan which would cover all the trips that you take within a year.
- Individual travel insurance plans
Individual travel plans cover a single individual and/or his family members travelling with him/her on a trip.
- Group travel insurance plans
Group travel insurance plans are those which cover a group of individuals under a single plan. A group travel insurance plan can be taken by companies whose employees frequently travel for business. Similarly, a tour operator can also buy a group travel insurance plan for a group of people travelling on a package trip.
What is covered under travel insurance?
There are different travel insurance plans available in the market and each plan has a different set of coverage benefits. However, all travel insurance plans have some common coverage benefits which are also called standard coverage benefits. These benefits include the following –
|Emergency medical expenses||If you are injured or if you fall sick when you are travelling and you are hospitalised, the travel insurance plan would cover the costs of such hospitalisation and pay your medical bills|
|Repatriation of mortal remains||This covers the cost of sending the remains of a dead body if the insured dies while on the trip|
|Loss of baggage||If your checked in baggage is misplaced by the airline and it is lost, the policy would cover the financial loss that you would suffer|
|Delay of checked-in baggage||If there is a delay in receiving your checked-in baggage, the travel insurance policy would pay you a claim so that you can buy items of personal use which your bag contained|
|Third party legal liability||If, while on the trip, you damage someone’s property or hurt an individual physically, you might have to pay a financial compensation for the damages that you have caused. This compensation is also paid by the travel insurance policy|
|Loss of passport||If you lose your passport on the trip, the policy pays you the cost of arranging a duplicate one|
|Hijack distress allowance||In case of a hijack, the policy pays a benefit for the distress that you suffer|
|Trip cancellation||If your trip is cancelled due to unavoidable reasons, the costs incurred in pre booking hotels and travel tickets are reimbursed|
|Accidental death or disability||If you suffer accidental death or disability when travelling by air or when you are on the trip, the policy pays a lump sum benefit|
Other coverage benefits
Travel insurance plans provide a comprehensive scope of cover which ensures that most of your financial losses are covered. That is why, besides the above-mentioned standard coverage benefits, you would find some of the below-mentioned benefits too under many travel insurance plans –
- Trip curtailment
While trip cancellation covers the cancellation of your trip before it begins, trip curtailment covers cutting short an ongoing trip due to unavoidable emergencies.
- Hospital cash allowance
Under this cover a daily allowance is paid if you are hospitalised during your trip. This benefit is paid along with the medical insurance coverage that you get for your hospital bills.
- Missed flight connection
If you are taking connecting flights and if you miss such flights due to unavoidable reasons, coverage is allowed for the loss that you incur.
- Compassionate visit
Under this benefit, the return ticket for a family member is arranged if you are hospitalised on your trip and your family member wants to visit and check on you.
- Emergency cash advance
If you lose your wallet and or money while travelling due to theft or robbery, this cover provides cash advance to you so that you can meet your travel related expenses.
Unique coverage benefits under student travel insurance plans
Student travel insurance plans allow all the standard coverage benefits along with some of the above-mentioned coverage benefits to students travelling abroad. Moreover, these plans have some unique coverage features which are especially designed for students. These coverage benefits include the following.
- Bail bond
If the student gets arrested in an international country, the travel insurance policy would cover the cost of posting a bail.
- Study interruption
If the student’s study is interrupted due to illness or injury which takes time to recover, the travel insurance plan would cover the tuition fee incurred during the interrupted period.
- Sponsor protection
If the sponsor of the student, who finances the student’s international education, dies or becomes disabled, this benefit covers the student’s cost of tuition and pays the tuition fee In place of the sponsor.
Exclusions under travel insurance plans
While the above-mentioned coverage benefits make travel insurance plans quite comprehensive in their scope of coverage, the plans also have a set of exclusions which are not covered. If you make a claim which is because of the exclusion, the claim would be rejected. Commonly found exclusions in travel insurance plans are as follows –
- Pre-existing conditions and medical complications faced due to them
- When you travel against the advice of a medical practitioner
- If you are travelling solely for the purpose of receiving medical treatments abroad
- If you suffer any accident, injury or illness due to the use of alcohol and/or narcotics
- If you suffer any accident or injury when participating in adventure sports and other hazardous activities
- Claims due to war, nuclear contamination, radiation, mutiny, etc.
- Medical expenses incurred on pregnancy and childbirth
- Medical expenses incurred due to HIV/AIDS or any other sexual diseases
- Attempted suicide, self-inflicted injuries or deliberate accidents
- Any type of cosmetic treatments would not be covered
- Non-allopathic alternative forms of treatment are not covered under travel insurance plans
- Consequential losses are not covered
- If you lose your passport because you left it unattended, such a loss would not be covered under travel insurance plans
Optional coverage benefits under travel insurance
Optional coverage benefits are those which are not inbuilt in the coverage of the plan but can be taken by paying additional premiums. Travel insurance plans also offer different types of optional covers some of which are as follows –
- Home burglary insurance
If your home is burgled while you are away on a trip, the benefit covers the loss that you suffer.
- Coverage for pre-existing conditions
While pre-existing conditions are excluded from coverage, many travel insurance plans allow coverage for such conditions on the payment of additional premiums.
- Coverage for adventure sports
If you are taking a vacation and plan to engage in adventure sports, you can inform the insurance company of your intentions. Many companies, then, allow coverage for injuries suffered when engaging in adventure sports if you pay additional premiums.
- Trip extension
If you have to extend your trip due to unavoidable reasons, this benefit would cover the costs incurred on such extensions.
- Enhanced cover for accidental death and disablement
If you choose this optional cover, the coverage benefit payable under accidental death and/or disablement would be enhanced.
Why travel insurance is a must?
It is always recommended that you insure your trips under a travel insurance plan. The reason is the assistance which travel insurance plans provide. Here are some benefits which you can get from travel insurance plans which make the plans a must buy –
- Coverage for medical costs
Medical costs are pretty expensive and when you are travelling to an international country, the costs multiply manifold. A travel insurance plan covers these costs and ensures that you don’t suffer any financial contingency due to illnesses and injuries suffered when travelling.
- Help in an unknown land
When you are travelling to an unknown country and you face contingencies you can be assured that your travel insurance plan would come to your assistance. This makes travel insurance a friend in foreign lands and ensures a smooth trip.
- Trip cancellations are covered
Though you might be excited to go on a vacation but a sudden illness or death in the family might put a dent in your plans. In such cases you incur huge losses on pre-booked flights and hotels. Travel insurance plans cover these costs and help you financially in such dilemmas.
- It might be mandatory
Schengen countries have mandated a valid overseas medical insurance plan when you are travelling there. So, if you are travelling to any Schengen country, buying a travel insurance plan becomes mandatory.
- The plan protects your whole family
The best thing about a travel insurance plan is that you can insure all your family members under the same plan if they are travelling with you. Thus, a single plan allows coverage for your whole family and allows risk-free travelling.
- Financial help in case of thefts
Losing your wallet and cash is quite common and this loss proves quite expensive. By advancing emergency cash, a travel insurance policy helps you out financially when you have no one to turn to.
Given these benefits, you should insure your trip under a suitable travel insurance plan and safeguard your travels.
How to buy travel insurance plans?
You can buy travel insurance online or offline. Offline policies are bought through travel insurance agents or through the branches of insurers. On the other hand, you can buy travel insurance online directly from your home or office by visiting the website of the insurance company or an insurance aggregator. The process to buy travel insurance online or offline is as follows –
- Choose the most suitable travel insurance plan for your needs
- Ensure that the plan has all the required coverage benefits
- The sum assured should also be sufficient enough to cover expected contingencies
- Once the plan has been shortlisted, you can apply for it
- Fill up an application form stating all the relevant details. These details include the following
- The trip destination
- The duration of the trip
- Number of members travelling
- Trip start and end date
- Age of the travelling members
- Their relation with you
- Sum insured that you need
- Any other optional coverage benefits that you need
- Any pre-existing illnesses that you or any travelling members have, etc.
- Once all the details are filled, the form should be submitted to the insurance company
- A set of documents might also be required to apply for insurance. These documents include the following –
- Identity proof of the travelling members
- Age proof of the members to be insured
- Copy of your passport in case of international travel
- Visa documents
- Copy of the travel tickets
- Photographs of the members who are to be insured
The insurance company would then assess the application form, verify the documents submitted and issue the policy once the premium is paid.
Best travel insurance companies in India
To buy the best travel insurance plan for your trip, here are some of the best companies which you can consider –
|Name of the company||Types of travel insurance plans||Salient features|
- Individual Travel Insurance
- Family Travel Insurance
- Student Travel Insurance
- Frequent Flyers Insurance
- Emergency dental expenses are covered
- Hospital daily cash allowance
- Loss of personal belongings is covered under international travel insurance policy
- Family travel insurance
- Individual travel insurance
- Senior citizen travel insurance
- Annual multi trip travel insurance
- Student travel insurance
- A range of travel insurance plans are available
- The coverage is comprehensive in nature
- Premiums are affordable
- Plans can be bought online
- Schengen and Worldwide travel insurance
- Overseas Travel Insurance
- Student travel insurance
- No documents are required to buy the company’s travel insurance plans
- Cashless claims are settled hassle-free
- The plans provide worldwide emergency services
- Individual travel insurance
- Family travel insurance
- Senior citizen travel insurance
- Student travel insurance
- Corporate Travel Insurance
- Travel Asia policy
- Bharat Bhraman Policy
- The company settles its claims quickly
- A range of travel insurance plans to suit different travel destinations
- Home burglary insurance is also available under the coverage benefits
- You get covered against trip cancellation or curtailment
- Student Explore
- Group Explore
- No pre-entrance health check-ups are required to buy Religare’s travel insurance plans
- Coverage for pre-existing illnesses is allowed
- Outpatient expenses are also covered under international travel insurance plans
Top #10 Things to remember before buying travel insurance
Though buying a travel insurance plan is quite simple, thanks to the online mode, and you also have the list of best companies to buy the plan from, you should do your research before buying a travel insurance policy. There are certain things which you should keep in mind before buying the policy to ensure that you invest in the best and the most suitable travel insurance plan. These aspects which you should remember are as follows –
- Make sure to cover all your family members travelling with you. Emergencies can befall anyone and you don’t want to bear the expenses yourself if any member is left uncovered, do you?
- The sum insured should be sufficient depending on the destination, the number of members travelling with you and your trip duration. If you are travelling to developing countries which are expensive, choose a high sum insured. Similarly, if many members are travelling with you, the sum insured should be sufficient to cover all of them.
- Always choose the right trip of plan depending on your trip. For instance, if you are travelling to the USA, choose travel insurance USA plans which cover the USA and Canada. Similarly, if you are travelling for higher education, a student travel insurance plan is required. So, choose the plan depending on the nature of your trip
- Look for the coverage features offered by the plan and make sure that your plan has all the necessary coverage benefits that you need
- Check the claim settlement ratio of the insurance company. A high ratio indicates that the company settles most of its claims. You should choose an insurer having a high claim settlement ratio
- Ensure that the premiums are affordable
- Check the details of your policy to make sure that there are no errors
- Check the claim process of the insurance company. It should be simple and convenient so that you don’t face any problems in making a claim and getting it settled
- The insurance companies are tied up with international service providers to provide claim assistance in foreign lands. Before you embark on your trip, note down the contact details of the service provider located in the city or country that you are travelling to. This would help you at the time of claims when you can directly contact the service provider and get your claims settled quickly
- Always compare and buy the best travel insurance plan. Comparing would let you find a plan which has the most inclusive coverage features at the lowest rates of premiums. So, compare and then buy travel insurance
How to make a claim under travel insurance plans?
Knowing the claim process of a travel insurance policy is necessary so that you know how to make a claim when you suffer a contingency. So, here’s the process in brief –
- Inform the insurance company immediately as soon as you face a claim. Insurance companies have to claim helpline numbers for different countries. Keep the numbers handy or call the central claim helpline number of the insurance company in India to register your claim
- Once you inform the insurance company, the company would give you the details of the tied-up service provider in your destination country that would help you with your claims
- Inform the insurer’s service provider of the claim
- The claim related documents would have to be submitted to the insurance company or the service provider. Submit the documents so that the claim can be processed
- Once the documents are verified and if the claim is valid, the insurance company would settle your travel insurance claim
Documents required for making a claim?
Documentation plays an important role in getting the settlement of your insurance claims and travel insurance is no different. You would have to submit the following documents for your travel insurance claims –
- The claim form completely filled in and signed
- Policy bond in original
- All the relevant bills which you incurred and for which you are making a claim
- Medical reports, bills and hospital records for medical claims
- Details of the claim like the time, place, manner in which it happened, etc.
- Your identity proof
- Your passport copy
- Copy of your travel tickets
- Police FIR, wherever necessary
- Any other document as required by the insurance company
A travel insurance plan provides a good scope of coverage at very low premiums and should not be given a miss. It is always better to insure your trips so that those unforeseen contingencies do not cripple you financially. By parting with a small amount of money in premiums you can buy peace of mind knowing that if any misfortune befalls you while you are on a trip, the travel insurance policy would come to your rescue.