You are snuggled up with your partner for a cosy 8-hour flight to an exciting vacation destination. And you are forced to stay snuggled for an extra 5 hours because of a technical glitch 😯
Passengers aren’t allowed to leave the plane because the glitch would be fixed ‘any time now’. You feel very smart about yourself because you remember your travel insurance covers flight delays. You take the policy details out for some pleasure reading because well, you have nothing better to do, only to find out you can claim all of:
“USD 20 per 12 hours subject to a maximum of USD 200”
On the way back, some of your baggage gets delayed. And because of what you read in the policy details on your way in, you already know your insurance policy will cover
“…only actual expenses made because of the inconvenience. And you have to attach the bills and other documents with your claim”
OUCH! So much for buying travel insurance! 😕
Obviously, the above scenario was just an example, but too often, travellers buy travel insurance very casually, if at all – and as a formality without checking any details.
Typically, travel insurance is bought to cover expenses arising due to health / medical issues or evacuation, loss or theft of passport, lost or delayed baggage, a trip delay or cancellation, emergency cash (in case of theft), hijack, any cancellations due to political unrest / natural disasters etc.
So do you need a travel insurance policy? Before going ahead and buying one, ask yourself,
1. What are you afraid of / what would you like to insure?
- Usually, health is the number one priority – even more so when travelling abroad due to the exorbitant cost of treatment. Most companies refuse to cover pre-existing disease, though some may either cover them fully or offer limited coverage for emergency services
- Are you likely to take up an adventurous activity on this trip like racing, horse riding, parachuting, bungee jumping, scuba diving etc? Many travel insurance policies will not cover these “dangerous” activities at all or may do so at a higher premium
- Is there a reason you think the trip might get cancelled? From expected political unrest or change in climate at the destination to a close one who has been ill and might need attention – reasons could be many, and you’d want to be financially covered
- We’ve been hearing of crashes and hijacks more frequently than we used to in the past. While it is a valid fear, the percentage of such events actually happening is quite less – and air travel is still among the safest means of transport
- It is important to strike the right balance between peace of mind and the premium you’re paying
2. What insurance do you already have?
- Check coverage offered by your existing health insurance policy – not all insurers have an international hospital network so you may need to buy a separate cover
- Several credit cards cover air accidents, lost / delayed baggage, loss of passports and personal property – some offer coverage when that card was used to make the flight / hotel bookings
- Flight delays due to the airline’s fault is usually reimbursable by the airline itself, in which case you won’t need delay-related insurance (even if your insurance covers it, the amount you receive from the airline might be deducted from your claim)
- Your corporate insurance might have some travel cover included – check if it applies only to business travel
3. Have you checked the policy wording and exclusions?
- Easily the #1 reason most insurance claims are rejected. People often focus so much on paying a lower premium that they completely overlook the list of exclusions or pre-conditions in the policy document
- Check if there are pre-set coverage limits for loss of phones, tablets, cameras, jewellery and any other items
- Remember that a travel insurance policy covers medical expenses arising out of accidents or emergencies on that trip – it will not cover a routine visit / checkup by a doctor or purchase of medicines
- Read up thoroughly on the claims process and make a note of the documentation needed. Having a claim rejected because you misplaced a bill can be frustrating
Before buying travel insurance, compare the features, benefits, and exclusions in policies offered by various insurance companies. Get feedback from other users on how painful / painless the claims process was, and to reiterate – ALWAYS check the fine print!