So, what are the features a traveller must have in a travel insurance policy? The first and foremost is an adequate amount of insurance cover. “Before flying internationally, it is critical to have enough travel insurance,” says Rakesh Goyal, Director of Probus Insurance Broker. If the trip can stretch into weeks or months, take a policy that is active for the duration of the journey. “Make sure to purchase an insurance that covers the entire trip, as well as one that covers medical expenditures and emergency evacuation if necessary,” says Goyal.
Must-have features in travel insurance for international trips
When you are in a foreign country, handling even a simple problem can become daunting. You can feel helpless if confronted with a difficult situation. International travel needs careful planning so that you not only have a support system to get guidance during an emergency, but can also get physical assistance on the ground. A proper insurance scheme can alleviate at least some of the problems and tension during an emergency.
“While going overseas, people must have travel insurance on their checklist. It is a big saviour for all travel woes like medical crises; loss of luggage, cash or passports; trip delays; flight cancellations and so on,” says Manas Kapoor, Product Head-Travel Insurance, Policybazaar.com.
He suggests the following as must-have features when buying a travel insurance policy:
Medical emergencies: Travel insurance shields the policyholder from expenses incurred due to medical emergencies. It covers costs such as hospital bills, ambulance charges, etc. In addition, beneficiaries can file a claim for medical costs incurred in cases of death or disability.
Trip cancellation: Travellers these days book their flight tickets, hotels, etc, in advance to avoid last-minute hassles. Travel insurance can provide a cover if you have to cancel your trip due to a medical emergency, unfavourable weather conditions or political unrest. Some insurance schemes will even refund your costs in such cases.
Trip delays and interruptions: Travel insurance is helpful if you encounter a delay during your journey. For instance, if your flight is delayed or there is an unexpected interruption due to bad weather, you can seek reimbursement of the expenses you incurred because of the delay.
Personal liability cover: A domestic travel insurance plan covers any damage or injury caused to a third party. This gives a policyholder some cover in case his actions injure another person or cause damage to a property.
Baggage loss: The probability of misplacing or losing luggage is high when travelling, especially to a foreign land. A travel insurance policy would reimburse the cost of replacing your checked-in baggage and its contents, within the limits mentioned in the policy document.
Cover for pre-existing diseases: If you have a life-threatening condition due to a pre-existing disease, it would be extremely irresponsible on your part to make any travel plans without having adequate coverage in the travel insurance.
Emergency trip extensions: You may have to stay longer than required in a foreign country if there is a medical emergency, natural disaster or political unrest, among others. In such cases, a traveller can use the emergency trip extension cover to cover expenses like changing or rescheduling flights, booking hotels and so on.
Susheel Tejuja, Co-Founder and Managing Director at PolicyBoss suggests travellers looking for additional protection from such events to opt for add-ons while buying an insurance policy.
Coverage of fraudulent charges: In case a traveller loses the notified payment card, or it gets stolen, this add-on can help the person get reimbursement for the unauthorised charges.
Refund of visa fee on rejection: Certain insurers today offer an optional add-on benefit of refund of visa fee in case the visa application gets rejected
Adventure sports coverage: A person can separately opt for coverage of illness, injury or death while participating in adventure sports. It works on a reimbursement basis, as specified by the insurer.
A 24/7 emergency assistance and support service for emergency passport issuance is of great help in handling situations like loss of travel documents.
Talking about the other features to look for in a travel insurance scheme, Goyal says: “Additional features include coverage for stolen items, aircraft or luggage delays, and trip disruption. Road trip coverage, medical tourism coverage, and car rental collision coverage are some of the extras to look for.”
Bundled vs standalone policy: Which one is better?
Most travel booking websites offer a bundled policy. It is often affordable as well. But should one depend only on such a bundled policy or go for a standalone policy, especially when going abroad?
Kapoor of Policybazaar.com says a decision has to be taken after studying the requirements. A bundled travel insurance available while booking flights is not tailored to an individual’s needs; it offers the same benefits to all. “For example, there are specific family floater plans that come at a discounted price. However, these have benefits that some users might not require. But it comes as a bundled product. It is advisable to do research, understand the benefits that a travel insurance plan offers, and buy the policy that best suits your needs,” adds Kapoor.
Travellers looking for greater protection should take a stand-alone policy to get adequate cover. “Policyholders can also choose to have additional riders in the policy for international travel. It’s better to have a stand-alone travel insurance instead of a bundled coverage,” says Goyal.
According to Tejuja, stand-alone travel insurance may be a wise decision in a variety of situations. He points out some scenarios where a person would want to take additional protection:.
Travelling to high-risk locations: If you are visiting a region where there is a higher likelihood of natural catastrophes, political upheaval or health problems, standalone travel insurance can provide comprehensive protection that is suited to those risks. It may also include travel cancellation/interruption benefits, medical evacuation costs, and emergency medical expenses, depending on the likely hazards at the location.
Extended or multi-country trips: If you are embarking on a long journey or visiting several countries, stand-alone travel insurance can offer coverage for the whole journey. This way, you can be certain that you are protected throughout, regardless of itinerary changes or additions.