Mishap Fears Lead to Spurt in Travel In­sur­ance Buys

While in­sur­ance usu­ally cov­ers flight de­lays, bag­gage loss & med­i­cal ex­penses, cov­ers are sub­ject to change due to newer forms of in­sur­ance

The Economic Times - - Companies - DIVYA SATHYA­NARAYANAN

Shashi Ki­ran Shetty, 57, has been trav­el­ling abroad fre­quently for busi­ness and leisure for years, but he sel­dom both­ered to take in­sur­ance cover for the jour­ney ear­lier. The dis­ap­pear­ance of the Malaysia Air­lines flight MH370 changed that for­ever. Shetty now has all his trips, whether for busi­ness or leisure, in­sured.

“The in­ci­dent has changed the en­tire think­ing about trav­el­ling in an air­craft and it is mak­ing people think deeper,” says Shetty.

Fol­low­ing mass mishaps like the dis­ap­pear­ance of the Malaysia Air­lines flight or nat­u­ral dis­as­ters like the dev­as­tat­ing floods in Ut­tarak­hand, travel and in­sur­ance com­pa­nies have seen a big rise in pur­chase of in­sur­ance over the past year.

TrawellTag Cover-More, providers of travel in­sur­ance and global as­sis­tance, re­ported an in­crease in sales of travel in­sur­ance im­me­di­ately af­ter the MH370 went miss­ing. “Cover-More, be­ing the global al­liance of Malaysia Air­lines and af­ter pro­vid­ing the emer­gency med­i­cal as­sis­tance ser­vices dur­ing the hour of need, wit­nessed panic pur­chase that seemed to be ini­ti­ated by the un­war­ranted in­ci­dent,” says Dev Kar­vat, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of the com­pany.

Height­ened aware­ness about ben­e­fits of travel in­sur­ance, cou­pled with re­cent global tragedies that af­fected trav­ellers, has led to a spike in de­mand for travel in­sur­ance, says Amit Mad­han, chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer — IT & E-Ser­vices, Thomas Cook In­dia.

While com­pa­nies had to push in­sur­ance cover along with the pack­ages ear­lier, nowa­days it is au­to­mat­i­cally ac­cepted, says TC Gu­ruprasad, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Cen­trumDirect, which owns Club7 Hol­i­days.

Travel firm Cox & Kings has seen a growth of more than 200% on over­seas travel in­sur­ance and 100% on do­mes­tic travel in­sur­ance in the past one year com­pared to the past five years.

For trav­ellers go­ing to Europe’s Schen­gen coun­tries, United States of Amer­ica, United King­dom, Dubai, it is manda­tory to have travel in­sur­ance.

While travel in­sur­ance typ­i­cally cov­ers flight de­lays, bag­gage loss and med­i­cal ex­penses, travel com­pa­nies say with the emer­gence of newer forms of travel in­sur­ance cov­ers are also chang­ing.

Height­ened aware­ness about ben­e­fits of travel in­sur­ance has led to a spike in de­mand for travel in­sur­ance

“As the rea­son for travel has ex­panded, nowa­days, people also em­bark on ad­ven­ture trips, self-drives, etc. This is driv­ing the con­sump­tion of ba­sic as well as evolved pre­mium poli­cies,” says Vishal Suri, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer — tour op­er­at­ing, Kuoni In­dia. Be­sides, med­i­cal care can be pro­hib­i­tively ex­pen­sive over­seas. For in­stance, a per­son un­for­tu­nate enough to be hit with acute ap­pen­dici­tis in the US will be out of pocket by more than .` 2.70 lakh while the most mi­nor of heart at­tacks suf­fered there will re­quire at least .` 3.50 lakh in hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion cost. Break­ing a leg on a Swiss ski­ing trip will cost at least .` 1 lakh to put right while a frac­tured hip in Spain could the vis­i­tor back by as much as .` 2.30 lakh depend­ing on the sever­ity of the frac­ture. A good travel plan safe­guards from such emer­gen­cies fi­nan­cially, says Naveen Kukreja, chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer at Pol­i­cy­Bazaar.com. The por­tal sold over 10,000 poli­cies in 2013 and aims to in­crease this num­ber to over 30,000 this year.

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