Read the fine print to un­der­stand what all is cov­ered, or you could be stuck with huge bills.

Business Today - - IMPACT SNIPPETS - By Khy­ati Dharamsi

Read the fine print to un­der­stand what all is cov­ered, or you could be stuck with huge bills

Mum­bai-based Mad­hu­mita Chat­ter­jee, 59, planned a fort­night’s va­ca­tion to stay with her son in Hong Kong. But she ended up with a hos­pi­tal bill of HK$1,500 (around ` 13,000) for an emer­gency surgery caused by a fall when she was abroad. Whether you are on a busi­ness trip or em­bark­ing on a sun-chas­ing, mo­jito-sip­ping sea­side hol­i­day, any­thing un­to­ward – right from lost bag­gage to stolen pass­port to med­i­cal emer­gency – can turn the trip into a night­mare. Still, many choose to travel with­out any safety net even though the cost of buy­ing a travel in­sur­ance pol­icy is far from pro­hib­i­tive. A $1,00,000 travel cover for two adults on a 30-day tour of US/Canada costs ` 3,599-5,363 ($50-80), and the price shoots up for se­nior cit­i­zens aged above 70. But it is not much more than the per-room, per-night charge of $75-150 that In­di­ans spend on an av­er­age.

Young trav­ellers with­out in­sur­ance could also face huge risks, go­ing by In­dian con­sumers’ leisure travel habits. “In­dian mil­len­ni­als are more ad­ven­tur­ous and con­fi­dent, and more in­clined to­wards dis­cre­tionary con­sump­tion of ac­tiv­i­ties such as travel, as op­posed to sav­ing. They pre­fer in­de­pen­dent travel over group tours,” says a CAPA In­dia-Ex­pe­dia travel re­port ti­tled The in­flec­tion point for In­dia out­bound travel.

Nev­er­the­less, plan­ning for va­ca­tion con­tin­gen­cies is on the rise as more peo­ple are go­ing abroad (in­ter­city travel cover has not picked up yet), and insurers are de­vel­op­ing prod­ucts in sync with the lat­est de­mand. For in­stance, Ben­galuru-based Digit In­sur­ance is now cov­er­ing ad­ven­ture sports. Ac­cord­ing to the In­sur­ance Reg­u­la­tory and De­vel­op­ment Author­ity of In­dia, do­mes­tic com­pa­nies is­sued 2,30,000 overseas travel in­sur­ance poli­cies in FY2016/17, cov­er­ing 4,60,000 peo­ple.

What’s On The Plat­ter

More than 40 gen­eral in­sur­ance com­pa­nies in

In­dia of­fer ex­ten­sive cov­er­age overseas and the sum as­sured could vary from $25,000-50,000. Apart from emer­gency hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion, these poli­cies cover per­sonal ac­ci­dents, loss of doc­u­ments and lug­gage, cost of evac­u­a­tion and, un­der un­for­tu­nate cir­cum­stances, cost of trans­port­ing the mor­tal re­mains of a trav­eller. “Most of­ten, cus­tomers file for claims re­lated to med­i­cal ex­penses in­curred due to hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion, flight de­lays, bag­gage de­lay, loss of per­sonal doc­u­ments and loss of checked-in bag­gage,” says Anurag Ras­togi, Mem­ber of Ex­ec­u­tive Man­age­ment at HDFC ERGO Gen­eral In­sur­ance. “Doc­u­ments like pay­ment re­ceipts, doc­tor’s notes and po­lice re­ports are re­quired to process claims. Hence, you need to save and share them with your insurer when fil­ing a claim.”

Also, be­fore buy­ing a pol­icy, take a look at the ex­clu­sions and caveats, how much of the claim will even­tu­ally be set­tled and the ex­tent of pre­mium re­pay­ment in case of pol­icy can­cel­la­tion. For in­stance, un­der emer­gency hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion, the first $100 has to be paid by the pol­i­cy­holder. Sim­i­larly, com­pa­nies of­fer­ing home in­sur­ance against bur­glary and fire while you are away, of­ten man­date that 5 per cent of the amount should be paid by the in­sured. Now that you are aware of the pros and cons, here is a low­down on how travel in­sur­ance can help when emer­gen­cies strike.

Med­i­cal emer­gency: “In many parts of the world cost of med­i­cal treat­ment could be ex­or­bi­tant, run­ning into thou­sands of dol­lars. But peo­ple’s ca­pac­ity to cope with such con­tin­gen­cies is lim­ited and they must have a safety net,” says San­jay Datta, Chief of Un­der­writ­ing, Rein­sur­ance and Claim at ICICI Lom­bard Gen­eral In­sur­ance. The best part of the deal is you need not un­dergo a health check-up to get your pol­icy. “How­ever, a dec­la­ra­tion of pre-ex­ist­ing med­i­cal con­di­tions is re­quired be­fore pol­icy is­suance,” says Datta.

If a trav­eller wants to get treated in In­dia for any in­jury caused abroad, the re­turn journey and the cost of treat­ment back home will be cov­ered by the pol­icy, sub­ject to the sum as­sured. On the other hand, dis­cre­tionary ex­penses should be avoided when one is abroad. For in­stance, cos­metic surgery and pros­thet­ics are not cov­ered by any pol­icy. Med­i­cal costs for pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions, bar­ring life-threat­en­ing emer­gen­cies, may not be con­sid­ered ei­ther.

Fi­nally, if a per­son needs treat­ment due to a self-in­flicted in­jury such as an at­tempt to com­mit sui­cide or self-harm un­der the in­flu­ence of drugs or al­co­hol, ex­penses for the same will not be paid by insurers. Again, mishaps due to sports or ad­ven­ture ac­tiv­i­ties are not cov­ered by most com­pa­nies.

Trip de­lay/can­cel­la­tion/in­ter­rup­tion: If flights get de­layed or can­celled due to bad weather, technical/me­chan­i­cal faults or staff strike, one can ben­e­fit from the trip de­lay/ can­cel­la­tion cov­er­age. Trip de­lay claims are not ac­cepted by insurers if the gap be­tween con­nect­ing flights is less than three hours. If you have to cut your trip short due to nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, ter­ror at­tacks or per­sonal rea­sons, such as the death of a fam­ily mem­ber, you will be pro­tected un­der the trip in­ter­rup­tion clause.

Lost bag­gage/pass­port/money: The lost-bag­gage cover will be avail­able only if the en­tire checkedin bag­gage is per­ma­nently lost by the com­mon car­rier (com­mer­cial flights on reg­u­lar routes charg­ing agreed rates). A copy of the board­ing pass and the prop­erty ir­reg­u­lar­ity re­port is­sued by the air­line will be re­quired as proof of bag­gage loss. De­lay in re­ceiv­ing bag­gage is also cov­ered if the de­lay is more than six hours within In­dia and 12 hours while you are trav­el­ling abroad.

Los­ing your pass­port or other travel doc­u­ments or your wal­let is an­other ma­jor dis­as­ter. Re­port the loss to the lo­cal po­lice within 24 hours and sub­mit the re­port to get your in­sur­ance claim ac­cepted. For fi­nan­cial emer­gency, a pre-de­cided amount is handed over to the trav­eller.

Save More On Pre­mium

Travel in­sur­ance can un­doubt­edly stretch your hol­i­day budget, but the ic­ing on the cake is that if you plan to can­cel the pol­icy due to change in plans, you can do so mid­way and a part of the pre­mium will be re­funded as long as no claim has been made un­der the pol­icy. If you are not sure how long you will be trav­el­ling, take the travel cover for a shorter du­ra­tion and seek an ex­ten­sion later in case it is re­quired.

“There are vari­a­tions in de­ductibles and sub-lim­its, which could have a huge im­pact on one’s budget. Check out pre­mi­ums for var­i­ous sums in­sured from one insurer and com­pare them with what oth­ers are of­fer­ing. That is the way to en­sure you are spend­ing as per your budget with­out com­pro­mis­ing on the ad­e­quacy of pro­tec­tion,” says Anand Roy, Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor and Chief Mar­ket­ing Of­fi­cer at Star Health and Al­lied In­sur­ance.

“Cus­tomers should also look for con­ti­nent-spe­cific or coun­try-spe­cific plans to save on pre­mium,” says Ras­togi of HDFC. “For those go­ing on a fam­ily hol­i­day, it is ad­vis­able to choose a ba­sic plan that cov­ers a fam­ily of four and then go for a higher-sum-in­sured fam­ily floater plan that ranges be­tween $2,00,000 and $5,00,000.”

"Cus­tomers should look for con­ti­nent- spe­cific or coun­try- spe­cific plans to save on pre­mium” Anurag Ras­togi Mem­ber of Ex­ec­u­tive Man­age­ment, HDFC ERGO Gen­eral In­sur­ance

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