The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the travel landscape forever. Health and well-being are now a major concern when traveling, especially abroad. Therefore, whether you are planning a trip for work, leisure or study, it is crucial to have travel insurance for absolute protection in a foreign country.
Besides being a mandatory prerequisite in some countries, travel insurance is also the most effective protection you can have in case of an emergency. Often policyholders don’t know how to go about making a claim if they need to. So, to ensure a safe trip for you and your family, here’s everything you need to know about a travel policy and, most importantly, how to make a travel insurance claim in a foreign country.
What does your policy cover overall?
A travel policy, especially in this pandemic era, is a financial safety net against unfortunate incidents and health emergencies that can occur while traveling. Under the terms and conditions, the policy covers everything from lost luggage, flight cancellations and theft to medical emergencies. Post-pandemic travel insurance policies also provide coverage against Covid-19, including all variants, for domestic and international travel.
The next important step is to select an appropriate policy that meets your needs. Here are the different types of travel insurance policies for different types of travelers:
• Single trip insurance
This policy is designed for tourists and business travelers who plan to visit multiple countries in one trip. This policy remains active until they return to their home country or until the policy expires. However, they are expandable and offer quick claims. In addition, these policies cover emergency dental expenses and standard coverage.
• Multi-trip insurance policy
A multi-trip travel insurance plan is suitable for frequent travelers because it provides coverage for many trips in a year. However, this policy has a 12-month time limit from the start date and directs that all travel be completed within this window. Additionally, the fine print of these policies frequently limits travel duration to 30-70 days per trip. It is therefore recommended to check for any restrictions.
Now that the type of travel is sorted, the next factor you need to be aware of is your requirements as a traveler. Let’s understand that-
• Individual travel insurance
As the name suggests, this policy is for solo travelers when traveling abroad. In addition to the standard guarantees, this policy offers a myriad of benefits, ranging from compensation for lost luggage, emergency or accidental medical treatment, repatriation in the event of a medical emergency and mortal remains, dental expenses following an accident, etc.
• Student travel insurance
Student travel insurance is a must for students who wish to study abroad. Valid from one to three years and also extendable, student insurance is available to people aged 16 to 35. It offers them full coverage against risks such as flight cancellation and postponement, loss of luggage and passport, family visits in the event of a medical emergency, legal fees, deposits and civil liabilities. Apart from this, it also covers the reimbursement of tuition fees in case of interruption of studies, loss of laptop, etc.
• Senior Travel Insurance
This insurance covers people aged 61 to 99. The insured is protected against intensive care costs, doctor’s visits and cashless hospitalization in addition to regular travel insurance coverage. Although many policies do not cover pre-existing conditions by default, there are now several policies available that provide adequate coverage for emergencies resulting from pre-existing conditions, provided they have been clearly declared in advance.
• Floating Family Policies
This policy protects the whole family under one umbrella plan, including the spouse and two children, making it economical. But, it is essential to review the age of dependents, as it usually does not exceed 21 years. This type of plan assumes all risk for more than one family member and eliminates the need for each traveler to purchase an individual plan.
Once the policy is underwritten, comes the next crucial step: knowing how to make a claim if and when the situation calls for it. Although most policyholders overlook this scenario and repent later, it’s always best to know your policy in advance.
Related: Best travel insurance plans in India
How to make a travel insurance claim in a foreign country
Most travelers mistakenly believe that they can file a claim once their trip is over. While the fact is that anyone with a valid travel policy can initiate it at any time as most insurance companies now offer an online process. Time is of the utmost importance when making a claim. The essential steps to follow in the case of any purchased travel insurance policy are-
- First and foremost, remember to notify the insurer or broker of the incident or medical condition in a timely manner. Alternatively, email them or have someone else do it on your behalf if you are not in a condition to do so. This will serve as validation of your timely communication.
- Have a travel insurance policy number and an emergency or helpline phone number ready.
- Keep copies of airline tickets, receipts, documents, hospital and pharmacy bills, hotel reservations, and payments as proof of a smooth and effortless claims process.
- Keep your emergency contact information and travel insurance policy number handy.
- Bring your identity documents and supporting documents to verify the information you entered in your travel insurance form. It is advisable to cross-check to ensure there are no errors, as even a slight error can result in a claim being rejected.
In addition to the measures listed above, key actions in the case of specific policies are:
- Medical and accidental cases: You will need to submit proof of medical reports, prescriptions, X-rays, payments made, etc. These should be dated, signed and stamped by the hospital or clinic. You will also need to submit an FIR report if the accident involves a third party. Pre-existing conditions must also be disclosed when purchasing coverage to prevent a claim from being denied.
- Loss of passport or personal effects: This is a crucial document without which you will be stuck in a foreign country. So, act as soon as possible by informing the insurer and filing an FIR at the local police station. Also, have copies of the costs incurred to obtain the new or return of the old document, as well as the receipt from the embassy and the passport office, the canceled check and both passports. To better protect yourself, it is always advisable to have a photocopy of your passport with you.
- Loss or delay of checked baggage: This is a common scenario that travelers are aware of, especially when traveling to the UK. But, to be compensated, you will need your travel ticket, boarding pass, copy of your passport, proof of baggage claim and delivery receipts for items purchased to manage up to upon delivery of the bag and the copy of the luggage delivered.
Things to consider before purchasing travel insurance
- Sum insured: Proper securing should be a key consideration when obtaining this policy. However, a higher sum insured will also result in a higher premium. So, the deciding factors should be based on inclusion i.e. checking medical benefits, coverage, cashless options, network hospitals and any claims you may receive against it. So weigh the benefits and then decide on the amount.
- Claims process: Insurance is purchased with the expectation that if a claim arises, the process should be quick and hassle-free. Remember to carefully compare the claims payout ratio and other features for a transparent claims experience.
- Included: The needs of each traveler are different from each other. So the features they choose should also be based on their personal needs. For example, you can opt for a plan with personal accident coverage or PED coverage or a plan that covers home burglary while you are away depending on your preference.
What is not covered?
Along with its many inclusions, a travel insurance claim also has some exclusions that should be kept in mind. The two main exclusions are that one cannot get cover for planned hospitalization abroad under travel insurance and secondly, losses due to a personal change of plans are also not covered. It will only be covered if there is a valid reason in accordance with the terms and conditions of the policy. In addition, there could be accidents due to adventure sports, the influence of alcohol, drugs, etc. which will not be covered.
How much does travel insurance cost?
Travel policies come in different forms and packages, which is why no one-size-fits-all approach works here. The price is determined according to the age of the traveler, the country of travel and the cost of the trip. For example, if someone over 60 buys it, the cost may be higher. Still, it’s still a lower cost compared to what you might have to shell out out of pocket in an emergency.
To give a fair idea, a one month trip to the USA with an insured sum of $100,000 can be covered for a premium of INR 2,000 to INR 3,000 for a 30 year old.
To recap, the travel insurance industry has grown exponentially after the pandemic as more and more people become cautious about protecting themselves against uncertain Covid-19 viruses, new diseases like monkey pox and tomato fever, and other factors while traveling. Plus, with significant benefits and a simple claims process, it is now becoming an essential and popular policy for travellers.
But, like any insurance policy, it also comes with a set of clauses, making the terms and conditions essential reading to avoid surprises on an excursion. Therefore, with the festive season approaching, the skies are set for a resumption of overseas travel in the coming months leading up to the New Year. So, don’t forget to secure your trip with travel insurance.