Are you in the midst of planning a trip? Going abroad or to a hill station or beach somewhere in the country? Whatever your plan is, you have to prepare for it many days in advance. If you are going abroad, from booking flight tickets to hotel stays, you have to do a lot of work months in advance. It is best to take the currency of the country you are going to. Apart from this, you also have to see the validity of your passport and visa. If you’re travelling by car, you may need to plan your routes; if you, you’ll need to research and secure transport once you reach your destination. You may also plan what to pack, where you want to eat and the sights you would like to see.

But what do you have planned for when or if things don’t go according to your plan? What happens if you have an accident or fall ill while travelling? Or if something happens due to which you have to cancel your travel plans altogether? In such unexpected situations, all the expenses incurred on flight or train tickets and hotel bookings will be wasted. The extra burden that falls on your shoulders if you fall ill or have an accident while travelling is another story. If you’re wondering how you can be protected in such cases, the answer is travel insurance.

(Read more: Health insurance)

  1. What is travel insurance
  2. What is covered in travel insurance
  3. What is not covered in travel Insurance
  4. What type of travel insurance policy to take
  5. How to claim during foreign travel
  6. Dos and don'ts for travel insurance
  7. Will I get some refund on early return

Simply put, travel insurance provides you with protection while travelling. The name for travel insurance by different companies can also be different. If you are taking travel insurance, then it is very important for you to know whether you are getting coverage on foreign travel, domestic travel or both in that policy. Travel insurance provides coverage to you and your family against a variety of expenses such as travel-related accidents, sudden illness during travel and loss of baggage or passport while travelling. Apart from this, coverage is also available for trip cancellation due to a family emergency, air travel interruption, travel delay or delayed arrival. Overall, by taking travel insurance, you can enjoy your trip without worry.

When you take a travel insurance policy, read all its terms and conditions carefully so that you know exactly what is covered under it. Should you have any doubts regarding the policy, talk to your insurance company or agent. Under this policy, coverage is available for a specific period only. Some insurance companies may also provide some add-ons as per the requirements of the customers. Remember, for corporates who travel frequently, travel insurance is of a completely different nature.

(Read more: Which is the best health insurance?)

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Before you try to understand how a travel insurance policy works, it is important for you to know what it covers. Generally, your travel insurance policy gives you coverage in the following situations:

  • In times of medical emergency: Since you usually do not get coverage abroad under your health insurance policy, a travel insurance policy becomes very essential for travellers. If you have an accident or fall ill while travelling abroad, you can get medical help immediately. If you go to a network hospital then you can get the facility of a cashless claim, whereas if you get treatment in a non-network hospital, you can claim reimbursement by providing the required documents. This way, you are saved from the burden of huge medical bills when travelling abroad. Many Indian insurance companies provide you with 24x7 help in your own language even when you are abroad. They will not only help you find a hospital but will also arrange transportation for you. (Read more: What health insurance does not cover)
  • On cancellation of the trip: Even if you’ve made all the preparations to go on a journey, an emergency in the family could occur that doesn’t allow for you to go forward with the trip. Surely, in such a situation, you will have to cancel all your plans. If you have taken travel insurance, then the insurance company will reimburse you for all the travel expenses that you had already incurred. However, this may depend on how much sum insured you have taken and your expenses. Obviously, this payment will be made only after verifying the authenticity of your claim for the cancellation of the journey. You can also use this facility in case you miss catching the connecting vehicle.
  • In case of other damage: In travel insurance, most of the insurance companies also cover many other things, one of which is compensation for the loss. For example, if the airline loses your luggage during your travel, the insurance company will compensate you for it. If your passport is lost, the insurance company will bear the cost of getting a new passport. You can also contact your insurance company directly for a new passport. (Read more: Corporate Health Insurance)
  • Personal liability cover: Suppose that while travelling you are involved in an incident that has caused damage to a third party or damage to their vehicle or property. In such a situation, it can prove to be very costly for you to compensate for the loss, especially if the value of the currency of that country is more than the Indian Rupee. Personal liability cover is also available in the travel insurance policy. Under this, your insurance company will compensate the loss caused by you to any third party.

We prepare so much for a trip, but the smartest thing we can do while planning is to take travel insurance. Make sure to check the exclusions of your policy. Exclusions are the situations that you are not covered under travel insurance. Read your policy carefully; if you do not understand something, you can also take clarification from the insurance company or agent. You generally won't get coverage for the following situations:

(Read more: What does health insurance cover)

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The coverage and benefits may vary among travel insurance policies by different insurance companies. It is your responsibility to choose the best travel insurance policy for you. Following are some of the covers, which are generally included in all insurance policies. However, the combination may vary. Apart from the coverage mentioned below, some companies may also offer many other benefits.

(Read more: What to do if the health insurance company rejects a claim?)

  • Cover for medical expenses with cashless facility (Most policies offer cashless cover)
  • Personal accident cover
  • Cover for losing a bag
  • Coverage for the delayed arrival of bags
  • Passport loss cover
  • Coverage for travel delay
  • Cover for transport of carcass

The sum-insured may vary for different travel policies and the premium will also vary accordingly. The premium can also depend on the country you are visiting. Apart from this, the age of the insured and the total duration of the journey affect the premium.

(Read more: What happens to the health policy after the death of the insured?)

So you’ve done everything right and bought your travel insurance. Now the question is, what and how does one file a claim abroad, if needed? Generally, insurance companies provide hotline numbers for travel insurance, where the information regarding the claim should be given. Along with this, you should also inform the concerned authorities and departments (as the case may be) like the police, Indian Embassy, transport company, etc. Usually, a claim form is also provided with each travel health insurance policy document. This is because you are at a distant place and may not be able to get claim forms in case of an emergency.

(Read more: What is a TPA in Health Insurance)

When taking a travel insurance policy, you must understand some common dos and don'ts associated with it.

What to do:

  • The way you plan your visa and air tickets well in advance, do the same for travel insurance.
  • Get the necessary medical tests done, collect you reports and then fill the travel insurance policy proposal form completely and truthfully.
  • Estimate the entire duration of your journey in advance and accordingly take a travel insurance plan for the entire travel period.
  • If you have to extend your travel period in the middle, contact your insurance company before the expiry of the policy and extend the insurance period by submitting the necessary documents.
  • Go through your insurance policy thoroughly and keep the contact details of the claim support agency with you, so that you can get in touch with them in an emergency.

(Read more: Daycare treatment in health insurance)

What not to do:

  • Travel insurance is very important, so don't put it off till the last minute.
  • Understand your need, do not buy any travel insurance policy only on the advice of the travel agent. Collect the information and compare the best policy according to your preference.
  • Don't fall for the cheap. The affordable travel insurance policy may not meet your needs.
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If you are returning early after cutting short your travel period, then you can inquire about getting a refund from the insurance company. If it is possible, you should claim the refund at the earliest. Generally speaking, the insurance company may or may not refund you a part of the premium, depending on the policy. Apart from this, if you are not able to go on the journey due to any reason, you can claim a refund by showing the necessary documents. The company may refund your premium after deducting administrative expenses as per its rules.

(Read more: How to cancel health insurance policy)

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