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Insure your travel abroad

Situations don’t knock before coming. And when it’s a travel-related emergency like an accident, illness, loss of passport or loss of baggage in a foreign country, it can turns all the well-laid plans to rest, Falaknaaz Syed tells how can you be prepared.

business Updated: May 10, 2009 21:30 IST
Falaknaaz Syed

Situations don’t knock before coming. And when it’s a travel-related emergency like an accident, illness, loss of passport or loss of baggage in a foreign country, it can turns all the well-laid plans to rest. The answer: be prepared with an overseas travel insurance policy —- mandatory in the US and some European countries but advisable when you travel anywhere abroad.

What does the policy cover?
A travel insurance policy covers overseas medical expenses, personal accident, loss of checked-in baggage, delay of checked baggage, loss of passport, personal liability, medical evacuation and provides hospitalisation allowance.
Who can buy it?
People up to the age of 85 years can be covered under the normal plan or under a senior citizen travel insurance plan. Insurance companies also offer a separate policy for students that are tailor made to suit the requirements of specific universities. The student travel insurance plan is a two-year policy that provides reimbursement of tuition fee paid in case of demise of the sponsor paying for studies due to an accident. The policy reimburses the remaining part of the current school semester fee in case studies get interrupted on account of medical issues or compassionate reasons on the family front. Insurance companies customize covers for families, business travellers, and multi trip travel insurance policy for frequent travellers.

What should be the sum insured?
That depends on where you’re headed, the cost of healthcare in the country and the number of days you plan to be there. According to Shreeraj Deshpande, head (travel insurance), Bajaj Allianz General Insurance, “Considering the high cost of hospitalisation in the US, Canada and the European countries, the sum insured of a travel insurance cover should at least be $200,000.” For a three to four day tour in the Middle East, the sum insured should be $50,000.

What is the price of these covers?
The premium for a travel insurance policy depends on number of days of travel, the country you are visiting (some countries are considered riskier than others due to law and order situation or poor healthcare) and the age of the person travelling. Prices range from Rs 1,433 to Rs 2,455.

What should I look for?
1. Check if the insurer has a tie up with a reputed service provider abroad and has worldwide toll free numbers where you can call for cashless hospitalisation in case of an emergency.
2. Check the inbuilt limits in the policy. For instance, if the travel insurance policy has capped the room rent at $2,000 while the actual rent is higher, then you will have to bear the expenses from your pocket. Similarly, check the caps for surgeon’s fees.

Are there any exclusions?
1. Medical expenses arising due to pre-existing diseases are excluded.
2. Insurance companies will not pay for cancer treatment and critical illnesses.
3. Most travel insurance policies have a deductible of $100 for medical expenses. This means that in case of a claim, you need to pay the first $100 before the insurance company pays for the entire claim.
4. Loss of passport in public places is not covered by many insurers.
5. Addiction to alcohol, drugs, mental
disorder, anxiety, depression, venereal disease, HIV, radiation, sporting
activities, war and war like consequences, expenses arising out of loss of valuables, money, securities and tickets are not covered.