Whether you’re travelling within the country or overseas, never underestimate the importance which a travel insurance policy holds. While you’re at home, your life or medical insurance policy will cover you against a variety, perils and risks. However, only some life and medical insurance policies extend cover to individuals travelling internationally. So, if you are planning a trip any time soon, make sure to include the cost of travel insurance instead of just keeping it as an afterthought.
Before purchasing any type of insurance, it is necessary for one to assess their needs and requirements before setting out to shortlist insurance policies. There are various factors, other than budget and coverage provided, which distinguish one policy from the other. What might be suitable for one individual might not be suitable for a family planning to take a trip or vacation. Hence, one must invest time in making an informed decision regarding which policy best addresses their needs.
To help you in your search, here is a brief guide, which will assist you in choosing the right travel insurance policy for your next trip.
Check with Your Existing Insurance Provider
Once you have booked your trip, the immediate next step should be to look for a suitable travel insurance policy to cover you. It would be wise to start by enquiring with your existing insurance provider. Some insurance companies / banks provide their customers with travel insurance free of charge along with an existing policy.
Duration of Policy
Depending on your travel plans, you may opt for a single trip or a multi trip policy. A single trip policy will only cover you on a single trip, which could be a yearly vacation. A multi-trip policy, on the other hand is more suited for travelers who make frequent trips in a single year. The benefit of taking a multi-trip policy is that not only does it save you the hassle of having to take a separate policy for each time you travel, it also helps save money. In case of either of the policies, do check how many days of coverage is provided. While selecting a travel insurance policy, keep in mind the possibility of having to extend your trip. Considering that, choose a policy with a duration which slightly exceeds the duration of your trip itself. You could, alternately, also opt for a policy which features policy extension, in case your trip is extended and you need additional cover for a brief duration.
Though it might sound quite obvious, but do check whether the policy you’re about to choose covers the destination you’re planning to travel to or not. This is because, different policies have different terms and policies may have global coverage or specific geographical coverage. In case of a global policy, do check the clauses for further details and sub limits. Also, premiums may differ depending on where you are travelling. In case of travel to slightly higher risk countries, the premiums may be higher, along with stricter restrictions. Compare this feature between the policies you are short listing.
Type of Policy – Family / Couple / Individual
It is cheaper to buy a travel insurance policy for a couple or a family, rather than taking one of each individual. Choose a policy which provides cover for all family members including children.
Given the rising costs of medical care the world over, especially the U.S and Europe, medical cover forms the most important part of any travel insurance policy. A medical emergency could strike regardless of where you are, whether you are resting in your hotel or relaxing at the beach. A competent travel insurance policy will have your back financially in case a sudden medical expense arises while you are travelling overseas. Before you zero-in on a policy, read the details of the clauses included under the medical cover section. Also, do declare if you are suffering from any pre-existing medical condition and whether it is or isn’t covered under the medial cover of the policy you’re taking. In most cases, pre-existing medical conditions aren’t entertained during claim settlement so it is best to declare them before taking the policy.
Luggage / Personal Belonging Cover
What do you do when you have arrived at your destination, but your luggage hasn’t? This isn’t an entirely unlikely occurrence and thousands of travelers all over the world experience this rather frustrating situation. Keeping that in mind, a travel insurance policy should cover you for loss of luggage. Now, different policies follow different terms for loss of luggage. Some policies will entertain claims only for total loss of luggage or might not include hand luggage in the said clause.
Cover For Valuables
Cover for valuables like your passport, wallet, and jewelry while travelling is another important feature of a travel insurance policy. Occurrences like theft and misplacement of valuables aren’t uncommon and can leave one stranded helplessly, especially in a new country. Do find out if your insurance policy will cover you or assist you financially and otherwise in case you have to get a new or duplicate passport, are in need of cash in an emergency following the loss of your wallet or will reimburse you for the a jewelry theft that has taken place while you were travelling.
Cover For Electronics
Most basic travel insurance policies will not include electronic valuables like mobile phones, laptops, cameras in the cover. Read the policy carefully and ask the concerned person about whether or not such items will be covered for in the event of their loss.
Missed Flight Cover
More often than not, a travel insurance policy will not cover you for a missed flight. If you didn’t leave in time to catch your flight is no reason for the insurer to reimburse you for the cost of the said air ticket. If you have to evacuate the country you’re holidaying in because of political threat or any other reason included in your cover, you are more than likely to be reimbursed for the cost of travel. Travel insurance policies are mainly designed to shield you from events which you couldn’t have reasonably avoided or protected yourself from.
Every travel insurance policy will have specific limits for every cover provided. This means that in the events like a medical emergency, loss of passport, wallet, electronics, , your policy will only cover you (for each claim) up to a specified limit allotted for that particular claim. So, for instance, your policy specifies a lost baggage cover up to USD 1000. But the lost baggage (content included) exceeds USD 1000 in value. In this case, the insurer is only liable to pay you USD 1000, as specified in the policy. Covers like medical cover, checked-in baggage cover, loss of wallet / passport cover to carry a limit, up to which compensation or re-imbursement will be provided.
Holiday / Trip Activities
A holiday or vacation means you won’t be sitting in your hotel room throughout the trip. You will be engaging in activities, depending on the specialty or attraction of the place you’re visiting. A travel insurance policy will, as a standard, cover a range of activities. Say, for instance, you suffer an injury while riding around town on a bike or fracture a limb while playing volleyball on the beach, your policy is very likely to cover you for the medical expense. However, do check the fine print of the policy before buying to ensure that your policy covers the activities you have planned for your trip.
A cancelled trip or a holiday cut short because of some emergency can be one of the most frustrating and disappointing occurrences. What is more stinging is the financial loss, with the purchase of the air tickets, accommodation, sightseeing and other activities that you have pre-planned and in many cases pre-paid. Cancellation cover can come in very handy in such cases. Depending on the cost of your overall trip, you can choose the policy providing the adequate trip cancellation cover. An ideal cancellation cover should cover you for the cost of the prepaid expenses, but also for the cost of your return tickets back home.
Emergency Assistance Services
In times of an emergency, medical or otherwise, trusted help can make a world of a difference. Ay, you’ve lost your passport and need help getting a new or duplicate one issued or one of your accompanying family member has fallen gravely ill on the trip. Who do you call? In such cases, your travel insurer may be your best bet for help. Keep in mind, emergency assistance can be of great help while travelling overseas. Considering that, it is advisable to choose a policy which provides emergency assistance services, so you can be sure that help is always at hand, if you need it.
Be Aware Of What Your Policy Doesn’t Cover
While it is essential that you are aware of what all your policy covers, it is equally important to be aware of all that your policy does not cover. Most insurance policies will not usually entertain any claims arising from a pre-existing medical condition, unless it is a life threatening one. Claims arising from mental disorders, anxiety, depression, self-inflicted injuries, attempt to suicide, addiction to alcohol / drugs, intentional exposure to un-covered risk, acts of terrorism, are just some standard policy exclusions. However, since each policy is different, it can also carry different terms, conditions and exclusions. So do check the policy wordings before proceeding to buy the policy.
Look Around Before Settling for a Policy
Finally, like you would for any other investment, do look around before you settle for a particular policy. You can go online, check real-time customer feedback for the policies you have shortlisted. Find out how other customers have rated their experience with a certain insurance company regarding claim settlement support, policy terms, emergency assistance, etc. This will give you a fair idea about what to expect. Also, you could contact the company’s branch office for details or employ the services of an independent aren’t who can provide you with a list of travel insurance options without leaning towards a particular company, and giving you an unbiased opinion.
As hard working individuals, we must learn to be wise with handling money. Investing your money in the right travel insurance policy can benefit you in multiple ways. After all, a vacation is to let your hair down and enjoy, not worry about those additional expenses which you’ll have to shell out for, once the trip ends. With the guidelines mentioned above, you can choose the right insurance policy for yourself. For most of us who think otherwise, travel insurance should not be an option. It is a necessity. Just like you wouldn’t want to go through life without life insurance, why would you want to make an exception on your holiday?
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