The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the travel landscape forever. Health and wellness is a major concern now while traveling, especially to foreign countries. Thus, whether you are planning a trip for business, leisure or study, it is of utmost importance to have travel insurance for absolute protection in a foreign land.
Besides being a mandatory prerequisite in some countries, travel insurance is also the most effective shield you can get in the event of an emergency. Often, policyholders do not know how to proceed with a claim if they need to. Thus, to ensure a safe trip for you and your family, here is everything you need to know about a travel policy and, most importantly, how to file a travel insurance claim in a foreign land.
What does your policy broadly cover?
Travel policy, especially in this era of pandemic, is a financial protection net against unwanted accidents and health emergencies that may occur while travelling. Depending on the terms and conditions, the policy covers everything from baggage loss, flight cancellations and theft to medical emergencies. After the pandemic, travel insurance policies also provide coverage against Covid-19, including all variants, for both domestic and international travel.
The next important step is to choose the right policy that fits your needs. Here are the different types of travel insurance policies for different types of travelers:
• Single trip insurance
This policy is designed for leisure and business tourists who plan to visit multiple countries during a single trip. This policy remains in effect until their return to their home country or until the expiry of the policy. However, it is extendable and makes prompt claims. Furthermore, these policies cover urgent dental care expenses and standard coverage.
• Multi-trip insurance policy
A multi-trip travel insurance plan is suitable for frequent travelers as it provides coverage for many trips within a year. However, this policy comes with a 12-month schedule from the start date and guides all trips that must be undertaken within that window. Moreover, the exact terms in these policies often limit travel time to 30 to 70 days per trip. Therefore, it is recommended to check any restrictions.
Now that the flight type is sorted out, the next factor you need to be aware of is your requirements as a traveler. Let’s understand that-
• Individual Travel Insurance
As the name suggests, this policy is for individual travelers when traveling abroad. Besides the standard coverages, this policy offers countless benefits, from compensation for lost baggage to emergency medical or accidental treatment, repatriation in case of medical emergency and mortal remains, dental expenses after an accident, etc.
Student travel insurance
Student travel insurance is essential for students looking to study abroad. Valid for one to three years and also extendable, the Student Insurance plan is available to people between the ages of 16 and 35. It provides them with comprehensive coverage against risks such as trip cancellation, rescheduling, loss of baggage, passport, family visits in case of medical emergencies, legal expenses, bail bonds and third party obligations. Apart from that, it also covers tuition refund in case of study interruption, laptop loss, etc.
Elderly travel insurance
This insurance covers people between the ages of 61 and 99. The insured is protected from ICU costs, doctor visits and cashless hospitalization in addition to regular travel insurance coverage. While many policies do not cover pre-existing conditions by default, there are many policies now available that provide adequate coverage for contingencies arising from pre-existing conditions, provided they are clearly announced in advance.
• Family Flotation Policies
This policy protects the entire family under one umbrella, including a spouse and two children, making it budget-friendly. But, it is necessary to review the age of the dependents, as it is often not more than 21 years. This type of plan takes care of any risks to more than one family member and eliminates the need for each traveler to purchase an individual plan.
Once the policy is purchased, the critical next step comes – knowing how to file a claim if and when the situation requires it. While most policyholders do not take this scenario into account and repent later, it is always best to know your policy inside out beforehand.
Related: Best travel insurance plans in India
How to file a travel insurance claim in a foreign land
Most travelers think they can file a claim once their trip is over. While the truth is that anyone with a valid travel policy can start it at any time, most insurance companies now provide an online process. Time is of the utmost importance while submitting a claim. The basic steps to follow in case of purchasing any travel insurance policy are-
- First and foremost, remember to report the accident or medical condition to your insurance company or broker within the specified time frame. Instead, mail them or ask someone else to do it for you if you are not in a position to do so. This will serve as validating your communications in a timely manner.
- Have your travel insurance policy number, emergency contact number or helpline number at your fingertips.
- Keep a copy of your airline tickets, receipts, documents, hospital and pharmacy bills, hotel reservations and payments as proof of a smooth and easy claim process.
- Keep your emergency contact details and travel insurance policy number near you.
- Get your ID cards and proofs to verify the information you entered on your travel insurance form. It is advisable to cross-check to make sure there are no errors, as a simple mistake can lead to a claim being rejected.
In addition to the above measures, the main actions in the case of specific policies are:
- Medical cases and accidents: You will be required to provide proof of medical reports, prescriptions, x-rays, payments made, etc. It must be dated, signed and stamped by the hospital or clinic. You will additionally need to file an FIR if the incident involved a third party. Pre-existing conditions should also be disclosed when purchasing coverage to avoid a claim being denied.
- Loss of passport or belongings: This is an important document without which you will be stranded in a foreign land. Hence, take action as soon as possible by informing the insurance company and filing the FIR report at your local police station. In addition, you have copies of the costs incurred to obtain the new document or when the old document was returned, as well as a receipt from the embassy and passport office, canceled check, and both passports. To better protect yourself, it is always advisable to carry a copy of your passport.
- Loss or delay of checked baggage: This is a common scenario travelers are aware of, especially when heading to the UK. But, to be compensated for this, you will need your air ticket, boarding pass, passport copy, proof of baggage complaint, delivery receipts for items purchased until the bag is delivered and a copy of the hand baggage.
Items to consider before purchasing trip insurance
- Insurance amountProperly securing yourself should be a primary consideration when obtaining this policy. However, the higher amount insured will also result in higher premium. Thus, the deciding factors should be based on the inclusion i.e. checking of medical benefits, coverage, cashless options, network hospitals and any claim you could receive against them. So, evaluate the benefits and then decide the amount.
- Claims Processes: Insurance is purchased with the expectation that if a claim is filed, the process should be hassle-free and fast. Don’t forget to carefully compare the claims settlement ratio with other features to have a seamless claims experience.
- inclusions: Every traveler’s needs are different. So the features they choose should also be based on their personal requirements. For example, you can choose a plan with personal accident coverage, coverage for PEDs, or a plan that covers home burglary in your absence depending on your preference.
What is not covered?
With so many inclusions, a travel insurance claim comes with a few exceptions to keep in mind. The two main exceptions are that one cannot get coverage for planned hospitalization abroad under travel insurance and secondly, losses due to personal change of plans are not covered either. It will only be covered if there is a valid reason as per the policy terms and conditions. Also, there may be mishaps due to adventure sports, the effect of alcohol, drugs, etc., which will not be covered.
How much does travel insurance cost?
Travel policies come in different shapes and packages, which is why there is no single approach that works for you here. The price is determined based on the age of the traveler, the country of travel and the cost of the trip. For example, if someone over 60 years old buys it, the cost may go up. However, it is still less expensive compared to what you may have to pay out of pocket during an emergency.
To give a fair idea, a month-long trip to the US can be covered by an insured amount of $100,000 for a premium of INR 2,000 to INR 3,000 for a 30-year-old.
To sum up, the travel insurance industry has seen massive growth after the pandemic as more people become wary about protecting themselves from unconfirmed Covid-19 viruses and new diseases like Monkeypox, Tomato Fever and other factors during the trip. Moreover, with great advantages and straightforward claim process, it is now a basic and popular policy for travelers.
But, like any insurance policy, it also comes with a set of clauses, making terms and conditions a must-read to avoid surprises during the flight. So, with the festive season approaching, the whole sky is set for increased travel abroad in the coming months until the new year. So, don’t forget to secure your trip with travel insurance.