Travel insurance: Your foreign policy

Jun 27 2014, 12:50 IST
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SummaryBuying travel insurance promises complete peace of mind on an overseas trip. Here’s the lowdown

When you plan foreign travel for either work or holiday, do look for a cost-effective cover to guard against medical and financial emergencies. Travel insurance also covers non-medical emergencies such as loss of passport and trip cancellation and delays arising from natural calamities.

There are various types of international travel insurance and, in most plans, those under 70 need not undergo any medical check-up. Special travel insurance policies, valid for a year, are designed for frequent international travelers. Insurers also offer special senior citizen plans that cover unexpected medical and non-medical expenses, including even hijack distress allowance, when traveling abroad.

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The premium charged by a non-life insurer for travel covers depends on the age of the insured or the family members, the country of visit, number of days of the trip and the kind of coverage opted for. Premiums also vary from one company to another. One can even buy the policy online, which is usually cheaper than buying it offline.

In fact, online travel insurance has already picked up substantially in the last few years because of better pricing, convenience and increased transparency. The online insurance market in India stands at over R700 crore. Life insurance sales contribute around R300 crore, motor insurance around R250 crore while other insurance lines, such as health and travel, make up around R150 crore.

Travel insurance must be taken from a company that has a long existence in the business, and the fine-print must be read thoroughly. A customer must look at the essential features, such as online services, claims process, toll- free number, payment options and the hospital network. He should also carefully check the exclusions to the coverage. Doubts, if any, must be clarified before takeoff.

Travel insurance is mandatory for countries such as the UK, the US, Austria, Greece, Portugal, Spain, France and Germany (Schengen). Even where it is not mandatory, it is in your interest to get one so that the holiday is tension-free.

First and foremost, travel insurance covers medical care — this is vital as one is not covered for medical bills without insurance. Since medical costs are very high abroad, it could create a big dent in your pocket and dampen your vacation abroad. The cover will not only cover medical costs abroad, but will also be handy if one needs to be flown back to country in an air ambulance — even

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