Flight offers, sightseeing spots, and hotel discounts are among the many things we tend to focus on while planning a trip overseas. If you are planning to go abroad this summer, do not miss an important item: travel insurance.
It might be mandatory in about 34 countries for inbound Indian tourists. You need to have a travel insurance policy before you reach their embassy for visa approval.
This includes popular travel destinations of Schengen countries (26 European countries), the US, UAE, New Zealand, Nepal, Russia, and Turkey. These countries have made it mandatory so that tourists do not land up in a financial crisis due to a medical emergency, accident, or loss of luggage.
Even if it is not mandated by national authorities, here are some reasons why travel insurance might still be advisable for overseas travelers:
Imagine needing to be airlifted off a mountainside in Switzerland after a hiking mishap. It can cost a bomb to transport the patient via a helicopter or ambulance to a nearby healthcare facility. Or the patient needs to be flown back home for further medical treatment or care. Travel insurance covers all these costs.
Furthermore, the policy also covers repatriation or transporting the traveller’s remains to the home country.
Not planning for such medical contingencies can have big financial consequences as healthcare costs in the US, UK, and Australia are very high. Travel insurance covers medical costs in a cashless way if treated in their network hospitals.
Loss of luggage, passport, and other documents
It could be a nightmare if you find that you lost the luggage containing important documents and electronic items. Travel insurance compensates you for the missing items in the luggage up to an approved sum.
However, know that baggage insurance compensates for the depreciated value of your belongings and not for the amount needed to buy a new item.
Also, there are exclusions and caps. If the baggage is delayed, you will be reimbursed for buying alternate clothing and toiletries until the baggage arrives. Not least, if you lose your passport, the policy will compensate you for acquiring a duplicate or a new one.
Flight cancellations and travel delays
Flight cancellations are common due to bad weather or the airline’s fault. In such cases, you would be reimbursed up to a certain amount as mentioned in the policy.
Sometimes, the flight is delayed due to heavy rains or a mechanical problem. In such cases, the travel insurer compensates for the additional night’s stay in a hotel and food costs, subject to limits. Moreover, missing a connection can be a costly proposition.
Imagine a travel delay of say 3-6 hours caused by a storm that prevents a cruise ship from docking on time. In such cases, up to a limit, costs incurred to catch up to the onward destination are compensated.
Cancelling travel plan
Most of the travel-related costs – be it of the airline or that of the hotel are paid upfront. If due to illness or death in the family, one has to cancel the travel, he or she loses almost all the money. However, if you have travel insurance, you would be reimbursed for the expenses on unused hotel and flight tickets.
Travel insurance also comes in handy if a third person or property is injured or affected due to your fault while you are on an overseas trip. It helps you with expenses for third-party damages, including that of litigation, up to a limit.
What should you do?
The cost of travel insurance is cheap. Typically, one pays about Rs 1,500 for a cover of $5 lakh insurance for a single trip. It is a small price to pay to get peace of mind. In a foreign territory, the last thing you would want is to be entangled in financial challenges.