Business Today

Travelling? Get insured

The holiday season is approaching, and it’s time to dig out the insurance packages that will keep you safe on your vacation.

Nitya Varadarajan        Print Edition: September 21, 2008

This holiday season, while you are busy with tickets and reservations, currency conversions and time-tables, do consider one crucial item—travel insurance. Whether you are going away for the weekend or spending a few weeks overseas, accidents can be a costly affair.

There’s insurance for all kinds of travellers
There’s insurance for all kinds of travellers
But that’s not all. Travel insurance covers healthcare costs, if you fall sick overseas, and even baggage lost in transit. In fact, insurers are bundling in all the costs that a traveller can incur to make your journey happy and safe.

There’s insurance for all kinds of travellers. For the frequent traveller, particularly high-flying executives, a “multi-trip” cover is ideal for overseas trips. For students, insurers provide for emergency trips back home and all the basic healthcare insurance requirements.

And even for senior citizens, there are covers to meet their specific requirements. So, pick the cover that suits your profile, duration of stay and the expenses you are likely to incur.

A few firsts

But first, ask yourself: how much travel insurance do I need? The answer lies in the kind of trip you are making and your destination. For a trip to the US or Europe, you will need to load on travel insurance, because of the high medical costs in there. Says Chandan Kumar Sinha, President, Religare Insurance Broking: “Your destination, age and duration of stay should determine the amount of insurance. The longer you stay and the older you are, the more you are likely to require insurance.” Third-party liability is equally important—just in case you happen to injure someone or damage property unintentionally, you could get sued for huge amounts.

Also, ask insurers whether they offer a network of hospitals for overseas trips, and how to facilitate a claim in case of an emergency. ICICI Lombard, for instance, has tied up with United Healthcare’s network of hospitals overseas and offers a card to overseas travellers that ensures access to these facilities.

 Indian holidays

Policies for travel within the country are cheap.

Insurer: Bajaj Allianz General
No. of days: 21-30 days; Multi-trip
Premium: Rs 239; Rs 2,950
Sum assured: Rs 2,00,000
Points: Among the cheapest policies, it mimicks features of overseas travel, without the mediclaim bit and, instead, offers hospital cash. There are exclusions for injuries/death due to adventure sports

Insurer:ICICI Lombard (Domestic Travel for Air Deccan Passengers)*
No. of days: 21-30 days
Premium: Rs 99
Sum assured: Rs 75,000
Points: Does not cover accidental death but only medical expenses, baggage loss and delay and ticket loss. Covers no other travel risks

Insurer: Tata AIG
No. of days: 21-30 days; Multi-trip
Premium: Rs 263; Rs 2,686
Sum assured: Rs 50,000
Points: Similar to the Bajaj Allianz plan, it gives more for personal liability claims than accidental death

* ICICI Lombard offers customised policies for domestic travellers.

All travel policies cover baggage loss. But check up on compensation in cases of lost passports, or whether there’s a distress allowance in case of hijacking, or hospital cash benefits, and other expenses due to a delay. Among others, insurers provide personal accident and disability covers. Also, read the fine print for special situations, such as medical evacuation emergencies.

The policy features

You can choose from a host of different policies. Policies can be silver, gold or platinum, depending on the insurer, and the sum assured can range between $50,000 (Rs 21.5 lakh) and $5,00,000 (Rs 2.15 crore). In case of accidental death, there’s a 100 per cent payout, but for other claims, such as baggage loss, the payout rates depend on the type of loss.

Travellers should also study the fine print carefully, as they vary between insurers. For instance, some insurers may not cover hospital stays beyond seven days. There may also be a cap on medicines and doctors’ fees. If your policy has such limitations, it may be worthwhile to check the probable cost of medical expenses at your destination.

 Overseas holidays

Holiday hot spot: London’s Tower Bridge
Holiday hot spot: London’s Tower Bridge
Travel insurance overseas covers many areas—at a cost.

Insurer: Bajaj Allianz General Insurance
Premium for one person: Up to age 40: Rs 5,800; 41-60: Rs 6,900; Older than 60: On a case-by-case basis
Sum assured: $200,000
No. of days: 180
Quick facts: Among the cheapest plans, it comes with a lower insurance cover

Insurer: Cholamandalam MS
Premium for one person: Up to age 40: Rs 11,987; 41-60: Rs 15,291; 61-70: Rs 36,449
Sum assured: $250,000
No. of days: 180
Quick facts: Offers adventure sports cover as an add-on; covers pre-existing ailments. Reimburses emergency purchase of replacement items if baggage is delayed for over 12 hours

Insurer: Iffco Tokio
Premium for one person: Up to age 40: Rs 11,496; 41-60: Rs 15,392; 61-70: Rs 25,525
Sum assured: $250,000
No. of days: 180
Quick facts: A standard policy. Company also engages interpreters in case of language problems and contacts local family doctor for information transfer during overseas treatment

Insurer: ICICI Lombard
Premium for one person: Up to age 40: Rs 11,927; 41- 60: Rs 15,393; 60-70: Rs 29,576
Sum assured: $250,000
No. of days: 180
Quick facts: Among the best online services; has a great plan for senior citizens in the 71-85 year age band; zero interest payments through card

Insurer: Reliance General
Premium for one person: Up to age 40: Rs 10,273; 41-60: Rs 12,962; 61-70: Rs 30,582
Sum assured: $250,000 NO. OF DAYS: 182
Quick facts: Offers more than standard package like cover for 182 days rather than 180 days

Insurer: Tata AIG General
Premium for one person: Up to age 40: Rs 8,418; 41-60: Rs 10,173; 61-70: Rs 23,709
Sum assured: $200,000
No. of days: 180
Quick facts: Well-known name globally; more restrictive than others in capping costs of overseas treatments, particularly for senior citizens

Getting a deal

A two-minute guide to finding your type of holiday insurance.

  • Students should opt for plans that have no limits on hospital expenditure or caps on doctor visits or medicine costs.

  • For those looking for adventure, a rider for adventure sports will come in handy. Keep a record of the type of sport.

  • For executives, certain insurers offer a pay-by-day policy allowing you the facility of paying only for the time you have travelled.

  • Keep all bills and medical history, it will help speed up claims recovery.

  • Look for policies that cover pre-existing diseases. Keep a record of the types of pre-existing diseases you have, before you sign up.

  • Public sector insurers offer a higher third-party liability of up to $200,000. If you have a domestic mediclaim and an overseas one, the local cover gets extended for the number of days unutilised during the overseas trip. Private players don?ft have this provision.

When you are holidaying with your family, opt for a floater cover but ensure that it’s adequate. Says Ramesh Chordia, Managing Director, “Many families opt for a cumulative $200,000 (Rs 86 lakh) cover thinking that not everyone can fall sick at one time. But in an accident, all members are affected and the cover might not be enough.”

Insurers have begun offering domestic travellers policies akin to those relating to foreign travel. You get accidental death benefits, emergency hospital benefits, and even trip cancellation charges. So, if you are planning a journey, don’t take any chances.

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