While planning a trip, many people realize that a travel insurance policy is a mandatory requirement when you apply for a visa to certain countries. However, many of them buy travel insurance just to comply, without going into details of the policy that they are buying and what exactly it would cover. There are a number of factors that distinguish one policy from another.
Moreover, travel insurance should be on your checklist while planning a trip irrespective of whether or not it’s mandated. To get the most out of your policy, it is imperative to understand what is covered and what is not. So here is a roundup of everything you need to know about travel insurance.
What Is Covered By Travel Insurance?
A travel insurance policy covers various kinds of financial losses that one might encounter during their travel. The policy term is usually the entire duration of the trip. While this protection is quite useful while traveling abroad, one can also get travel insurance to cover their trips within the country. Depending on the policy that you purchase, you could get coverage for emergency medical expenses while traveling, trip cancellation and delay, loss of baggage, delay of checked-in baggage, loss of passport, accidental death or disability, and so on.
Since the cost of travel insurance is only a fraction of the cost of the entire trip, it makes sense to opt for it to secure one’s travels. By making this small investment, you ensure that you do not suffer a big loss should you have to cancel the trip, cut it short, or even face health emergencies during the trip. For instance, you can get a starting plan for as low as INR 50 per day for a 15-day trip to the UK.
Moreover, in these uncertain times, your travel insurance also comes with global coverage against the Covid-19 virus. If you are infected by the Covid-19 virus while traveling, your medical expenses will be taken care of by your insurer. Trip cancellation or delay due to Covid-19 is also covered by travel insurance policies.
Types Of Travel Insurance Plans
Not all travel insurance policies are similar. Primarily there are variations depending on whether you are traveling domestically or abroad, whether it is for a single trip or multiple trips, and whether you are traveling alone or in a group. Here are the main types of travel insurance plans:
- International And Domestic Travel Insurance Plans
While the former covers trips taken abroad, the latter covers trips taken within the country. Even in the case of international travel insurance, plans are often divided into countries that they cover. Therefore, there are plans that cover specific countries or regions; meanwhile, others cover all countries barring a few. Finally, there are some plans that cover travel to any country without any exceptions.
- Single-Trip and Multi-Trip Travel Insurance Plans
As the name suggests, a single-trip travel insurance plan covers one specific trip for a specified number of days mentioned clearly in the policy. This starts from the date of departure till the date of return. On the other hand, a multi-trip travel insurance plan covers multiple trips taken within a period of one year from the date of commencement of the policy. This is a handy option for those who travel frequently. Not only is it convenient, but also cost-effective, to go for a multi-trip insurance policy if you travel multiple times a year.
- Individual and Group Travel Insurance Plans
An individual travel insurance plan is for those who are either traveling alone or with their families. While the name says individual, it covers the policyholder and his/her family members who are accompanying him/her on the trip as long as their names are clearly mentioned while purchasing the policy.
On the other hand, a group travel insurance policy is for companies whose employees are traveling for business. Often, tour operators also buy a group travel insurance plan to cover separate individuals who may be traveling together as part of a package tour. This kind of insurance is often included in the package tour.
- Student Travel Insurance Plans
The Covid-19 pandemic saw millions of students suffer because of the restrictions that were imposed. This was especially true for students who study abroad. A student travel insurance plan comes in handy in such a situation as it not only covers medical expenses that can eat up your limited expenses while you study abroad but also reimburses paid semester fees if the policyholder’s education is interrupted for genuine reasons. Moreover, these plans also cover the cost of canceled trips.
What Does A Travel Insurance Plan Cover
- Emergency Medical Expenses
Traveling is fraught with risks, especially when you travel to land with different climates, cultures, customs, and food habits. What you planned to be a relaxing holiday can quickly become a stressful nightmare when an unforeseen emergency strikes and leads not only to mental stress but also financial stress. In an unknown place, finding help could prove difficult, especially in case of the additional financial expenses you may incur due to a medical emergency that overshoots your travel budget.
However, if you have opted for travel insurance, it would cover the cost of hospitalization as well as your other medical bills if you fall sick, or get injured. In case there is no appropriate hospital in the vicinity, some policies even cover the cost of emergency transportation and evacuation services to transfer the patient to an appropriate medical facility.
Moreover, some plans also offer a daily hospital cash allowance if you are hospitalized during your trip. This allowance can help you take care of those extra expenses which may be related to but do not fall under the category of, medical expenses. Some travel insurance policies even cover the post-hospitalization costs up to a certain period of time. So it is advisable to confirm if the plan that you are considering offers all these benefits.
- Trip Cancellation And Curtailment
Consider this scenario: you have made elaborate travel plans to your favorite destination. You have booked the tickets, made hotel reservations, and even paid for that cruise that you intended to go on with your loved ones. However, just a day or two before the expected departure date, you are forced to cancel the plan — maybe someone in your family suddenly has fallen sick and is not in a position to travel, or there has been a death in the family, or there is a forecast of sudden weather calamity or a crisis in your destination. What happens to the money that you have already spent to make arrangements for your trip? With a decent travel insurance policy, you will get reimbursed for all prepaid and non-refundable travel expenses.
On the other hand, what if you already embarked on the trip and in the middle of it, you have to cut it short due to an unavoidable emergency? With trip curtailment cover that many insurers offer, you get protection against such a scenario as well. Not only the insurance policy would reimburse you for the hotel reservations and other prepaid expenses, it would also cover the cost of your return flight that you may have to book on short notice and on exorbitant prices. Also, if, due to an unforeseen event, your flight departure is delayed beyond a stipulated reasonable amount of time, the insurer compensates you for the same.
Another event where a travel insurance policy comes as a savior is when you are taking connecting flights to your destination and you miss one of these flights due to unavoidable reasons. Travel insurance covers the cost of the new flight you would have to book in place of the one that you missed if it’s part of your coverage.
- Loss Or Delay Of Baggage
Say you arrive at your destination but your checked-in luggage is delayed. Or worse still, your luggage never arrives at the destination and is lost. All your belongings are just gone in a flash. This can put a huge strain on your travel budget. Even in the case of delay, which may take from 12 hours to up to a week, you would be forced to buy some items till your luggage arrives. You wouldn’t have accounted for these expenses during trip planning. So, does that mean your entire travel plan goes for a toss? The answer is no if you have travel insurance in place.
If your checked-in baggage is misplaced by the airline carrier, the policy would cover the financial loss whether it is lost or is delayed beyond a stipulated time (usually 12 hours). So you can continue with your vacation as planned without worrying about these expenses.
- Loss Of Passport
It can be quite stressful if you lose your passport during your trip. While arranging a duplicate copy of your passport would surely lead to some inconvenience, it also incurs a significant cost. Most travel insurance policies do take care of the latter as they cover the cost of arranging a new passport. Some policies also cover the cost of arranging a duplicate International Driver’s License, up to a certain limit, if you lose it during your trip.
- Personal Liability
It can be difficult to understand the law of the land in a foreign destination. If due to an accident, you cause damage to someone or their property, you may have to pay hefty financial compensation to the concerned party. It could range from something really small to something pretty serious. Your travel insurance policy can cover expenses paid to the third party in an event like this.
- Bottom Line
Travel insurance often comes with other benefits depending on the insurer you choose and the plan you decide to opt for. For instance, there could be a hijack distress allowance that pays you for the distress that you suffer or compassionate visit cover which pays for the return ticket of a family member to visit you in a foreign country if you are hospitalized on your trip. There is also an option for emergency cash advance cover which provides a cash advance to you to meet your travel-related expenses in case you lose your wallet while traveling due to theft or robbery. A visa rejection cover pays for the reimbursement of the visa fee if it gets rejected due to no fault or negligence on the part of the insured person.
Buying a travel insurance policy is highly recommended as it is the shield that you need in an unknown land. However, always remember to do your research and go for the policy that rightly fits your needs and protects you adequately. When that is sorted, you can focus on just relaxing and enjoying the trip!