Imagine you get a fantastic off-season deal at a Mexican resort in the Riviera Maya. After a dream flight, the hotel is fascinating and the food is excellent. Then all of a sudden, there’s a hurricane alert. You have to be evacuated promptly and without your luggage. Here’s another image: You are on a vacation in Israel, merrily floating in the Dead Sea, when suddenly you choke on the brine and have to be evacuated to the nearest hospital as a medical emergency. Yet another: You are travelling through Europe on work and you lose your passport and other documents. There are plenty of things that could go wrong while you are on a trip, even after the most meticulous planning. How you deal with these emergencies will determine whether the trip becomes memorable or a nightmare.

Unforeseen upsets

For most people, travelling to different destinations around the world is on their bucket list. With the increase in global business and employment opportunities on the one hand and a rise in disposable incomes that can be spent on leisure travel on the other, international trips have become more possible and perhaps more likely too. However, when you set out to explore the world and all the opportunities that it has to offer, having travel insurance is imperative. It secures you against the risk of incurring unforeseen medical expenses and other travel related emergencies, when you are bound to feel especially vulnerable due to the fact that you are in unfamiliar territory, far away from home. When unexpected illnesses or accidents occur while you are travelling overseas or you face other severe emergencies, having travel insurance gives you access to financial comfort, making the whole experience a lot less traumatic.

Elements of cover

Most Indian travellers who go abroad do so for leisure (46%) or business (35%), i.e. as corporate employees or to promote one’s own business or even to attend meetings, conferences or exhibitions. There are also a few who travel to visit friends and relatives (12%). International travel insurance covers all these categories of travellers for a range of events, including emergency hospitalisation, accidental death or disability, repatriation, medical evacuations, emergency dental relief, delay or loss of checked baggage, delay or cancellation of trips, loss of passport and third party liability for property and personal damages, etc. 

Can-have Must-have  

In some cases, medical insurance is a mandatory prerequisite for entry into a country. For instance, a certain minimum medical insurance is a prerequisite requirement for a visa into the Schengen Area, which comprises 26 European countries that function as a single country for international travel purposes. Further, this insurance should be valid within the Schengen region for the full duration of your stay and it must cover any expenses relating to repatriation for medical reasons, urgent medical attention and/or emergency hospital treatment or death. 

Even if medical insurance is not mandatory in the country to which you wish to travel, it still makes sense to purchase travel insurance before you go because medical treatment outside India is extremely expensive. In fact, medical treatment abroad is between is 3 – 10 times more costly than for the similar procedures in India. 

Further, as travel insurance goes beyond medical insurance, covering irritants that could spoil your trip, such as loss of checked-in baggage and baggage delays, loss of passport, trip delays, cancellations and  interruptions, etc., purchasing a policy could make the difference between ‘a trip’ and ‘a great trip’.

Courtesies and conveniences 

As in the case of most other insurance products, insurers are offering customer-centric, value-for-money solutions to give the consumer a bigger bang for their buck in terms of thoughtful features and benefits that are topped onto travel insurance. 

If you explore the market for travel insurance products, you will find plans that cover people of all ages, right from new born babies to octogenarians and even those who are older; there are plans that will say upfront, “no entry age limit”. Some plans are flexible enough to suit the specific travel needs of customers based on the continent or region they propose to visit. Others cover pre-existing diseases in life threatening medical conditions and still others offer twice the sum insured in case of hospitalization due to accidents. 

You will find plans that, to make your life simple, offer cover in Euros when you travel to Europe and others that cover your entire family for a single trip. Some travel insurance policies can be extended for a maximum trip duration of up to 365 days, to keep up with the extended durations for which travel visas are being issued or they may offer you the option to purchase a ‘multi-trip policy’ if you are a frequent flyer.

In the true sense of the word ‘considerate’, a few insurance companies offer you policies that will up-grade you to business class when you need it the most, i.e. if you are ailing or wounded while abroad and your doctor decides that you require the comfort of business class while travelling. Still, others offer to fly your minor children to the safety of their home, if they are travelling alone with you and you require to be hospitalised abroad. On the flip side, you could request your wife, mother or any other doting relative to fly over to be with you when you are hospitalised in a distant land and your insurance company could pick up the tab for that too.

Secure your trip

John Steinbeck, the famous American author, once wrote, "A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it". Fortunately, unlike marriage, journeys can be covered by travel insurance. So this season, while you pack your bags and look forward to all the fun you will have or deals you will clinch while abroad, make sure that the first thing that goes into your suitcase is travel insurance.

Comparison of Costs of Medical Treatment in India and Abroad

Tags:   certain minimum medical insurance   International travel insurance   travel insurance policies   purchase travel insurance   travel insurance products   international travel purposes   travel related emergencies   unforeseen medical expenses   insurance companies   urgent medical attention   insurance company   emergency hospital treatment   medical emergency  

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