Knowthe ex­clu­sions in your travel pol­icy

Check the num­ber of days for which the pol­icy will cover you, and whether it will of­fer com­pen­sa­tion for pre-ex­ist­ing dis­eases

Business Standard - - YOUR MONEY - PARAG VED

With the win­ter hol­i­day sea­son just around the cor­ner, many peo­ple are cur­rently en­gaged in mak­ing travel plans to ex­cit­ing and ex­otic des­ti­na­tions. From stitch­ing the per­fect itin­er­ary to ze­ro­ing down on the best ho­tel and flight book­ings, a lot of en­ergy and time would have al­ready gone into en­sur­ing that the trip is a mem­o­rable one. In the quest for new ex­pe­ri­ences, many of­ten tend to miss out on the cru­cial as­pect of pro­tect­ing their jour­ney from un­fore­seen con­tin­gen­cies, and that’s where a re­li­able travel in­sur­ance pol­icy comes into play.

SCOPE OF TRAVEL IN­SUR­ANCE Most con­sumers buy travel in­sur­ance just be­cause the visa process man­dates it. Those vis­it­ing Schen­gen coun­tries, for ex­am­ple, have to pro­vide travel in­sur­ance as part of the visa doc­u­men­ta­tion process. Even Aus­tralia man­dates peo­ple over a spe­cific age group to ap­ply for it. But trav­ellers of­ten fail to un­der­stand that it’s the only pro­tec­tion that they will be able to fall back on in the event of an even­tu­al­ity dur­ing their trip.

If you lose your pass­port, for ex­am­ple, your travel in­sur­ance pol­icy will re­im­burse you for the cost in­curred on ac­quir­ing an­other pass­port and a du­pli­cate visa. Sim­i­larly, in case of bag­gage loss, the in­sur­ance cover will com­pen­sate for your loss up to a cer­tain per­mis­si­ble limit. In case of bag­gage de­lay, the ex­pense in­curred on buy­ing new per­sonal goods will be re­im­bursed.

Far worse is a med­i­cal emer­gency when trav­el­ling abroad. In such a sit­u­a­tion, a travel in­sur­ance pol­icy comes as a saviour. You get the ben­e­fit of cash­less hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion. The in­sur­ance pol­icy will com­pen­sate for fly­ing a close fam­ily mem­ber to the lo­ca­tion, and will take care of other re­lated ex­penses.

Then there are things that are be­yond your con­trol. Your trip can get can­celled or de­layed due to the air­line’s fault. Imag­ine you have paid up­front to stay in an ex­otic and ex­pen­sive ho­tel for three-four days but there’s a de­lay of a day or two due to flight can­cel­la­tion. Many ho­tels re­pay only a part of the money on can­cel­la­tion or don’t pay any­thing at all. Also, what do you do about your prior ho­tel or air­line book­ings if your trip gets can­celled sud­denly due to a nat­u­ral calamity at your des­ti­na­tion? A travel pol­icy com­pen­sates for the ex­penses in­curred on ac­com­mo­da­tion and ticket book­ings. In case of a de­layed flight, it will cover ad­di­tional ex­penses such as an un­planned night stay at a ho­tel.

In case of theft, an in­sur­ance pol­icy takes care of fraud­u­lent charges in­curred due to loss of credit/debit cards. How­ever, you must read the fine print of the pol­icy to un­der­stand what’s cov­ered and what’s not.

Con­firm if you have travel in­sur­ance al­ready: You could have travel cov­er­age al­ready and not even know about it. Some credit cards or home in­sur­ance poli­cies pro­vide travel cover too. It is, there­fore, worth check­ing your ex­ist­ing ac­counts be­fore buy­ing a new pol­icy. If you do, you may not need an ad­di­tional cover.

Get your vac­ci­na­tions done: If you have a med­i­cal con­di­tion make sure to carry your vac­ci­na­tions and medicines rec­om­mended by the doctor. Some in­sur­ance com­pa­nies may not pay in case you get a vi­ral in­fec­tion in the ab­sence of proper pre­cau­tions.

Check for valu­ables cover: When it comes to in­sur­ance, it is crit­i­cal to un­der­stand the dif­fer­ence be­tween bag­gage and elec­tron­ics and other valu­ables cover. While ‘bag­gage’ refers to per­sonal day-to-day items, elec­tron­ics and valu­ables com­prise a com­pletely dif­fer­ent sec­tion of the pol­icy. Many com­pa­nies do not com­pen­sate if you do not carry an in­voice copy. It is, there­fore, es­sen­tial to carry orig­i­nal bills and vouch­ers or have dig­i­tal copies on your phone or mail­box to prove your pur­chase claim.

Pay more to get more: Some travel in­sur­ers al­low cus­tomers to pick and choose the cover they need. Make sure you check the dif­fer­ent cov­ers avail­able. It may feel that the un­bun­dled prod­ucts are ex­pen­sive, but they could be more com­pre­hen­sive, and the scope of cov­er­age could be bet­ter in un­bun­dled prod­ucts.

Check if pre-ex­ist­ing dis­eases are

cov­ered: Not all in­sur­ers cover pre­ex­ist­ing dis­eases and re­lated med­i­cal emer­gen­cies. If an in­di­vid­ual has a car­diac con­di­tion, for ex­am­ple, and he gets a heart at­tack, not all in­sur­ers may com­pen­sate for this claim. If a trav­eller has an ex­ist­ing con­di­tion, do un­der­stand the terms and con­di­tions and scope of cov­er­age for the pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions.

Multi-trip poli­cies do make sense: If you are a fre­quent trav­eller, a multi-trip pol­icy is rec­om­mended. They cover all trips un­der­taken in a pol­icy year. How­ever, do check the length and limit of each trip that the in­surer is will­ing to cover. Some in­surer may al­low cover for 30 days on each trip while some may give cover for a higher num­ber of days. If an in­di­vid­ual un­der­takes five-six trips a year, go for multi-trip pol­icy rather than a sep­a­rate pol­icy for each trip. Also, multi-trip poli­cies are more eco­nom­i­cal than buy­ing a cover each time you travel.

Check for can­cel­la­tion terms: The most dis­heart­en­ing part of a trip is if you have to can­cel at the last mo­ment due to un­fore­seen snags. Many trav­ellers don’t re­alise that only a few com­pa­nies will of­fer com­pen­sa­tion if the customer can­cels the trip. It is, there­fore, es­sen­tial, that you read the pol­icy word­ings and un­der­stand if the in­surer will hon­our a claim if the in­sured can­cels his trip.

Va­ca­tions are sup­posed to be pleas­ant and mem­o­rable. You do not want un­for­tu­nate in­ci­dents to spoil the fun. While you can­not con­trol fu­ture events, you can ensure that you are ad­e­quately pro­tected if some­thing goes wrong. You will need to re­search and com­pare plans as what would work for some­one else may not work for you. Med­i­cal ex­penses abroad can cost a lot, so it’s vi­tal that ev­ery­one go­ing abroad has ad­e­quate cover in place for any even­tu­al­i­ties.

A cheaper cover may not nec­es­sar­ily be the best. Opt for an in­surer that has a strong do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional net­work and a suc­cess­ful claim set­tle­ment track record. But most im­por­tantly, be clear of your own needs and ex­pec­ta­tions from a travel plan and pro­tect your­self ad­e­quately be­fore set­ting out.

The writer is EVP & head, con­sumer lines, Tata AIG Gen­eral In­sur­ance

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