Travel Insurance: Security In Your Hands
finds out what's currently on offer to insure you while you
are on tour...
being hospitalised in a strange land and then being landed
with a whopping bill, which you would not have been able to
pay even if you were in india and had access to your bank
account. Chances are your loved ones might have to sell off
your home to get you back. Accidents or illnesses are often
unavoidable and unpredictability is something travellers have
to live with. This is especially true of the corporate traveller.
Travel is a part and parcel of his life. It is therefore best
to expect the unexpected and take suitable precautions. Thatís
where travel insurance comes in.
Travel policies offer various types of coverages. The options
available in the Indian market are as follows.
Flight Life Insurance And Travel
Accident Insurance: Flight life insurance usually provides
coverage for a single flight. Coverage ends with the end of
the flight. Travel accident insurance generally covers travel
to and from your destination. It is advisable to opt for one
of the above and not both.
Baggage Insurance: If you are carrying valuable items,
you should have them specifically insured. Be sure to make
an inventory of personal items before and during your trip
in the event that your baggage is lost or stolen. The insurance
company pays the actual value of your missing bags or items
(unlike airlines, which have limited liability). In most cases,
the company will also pay for 'essential items' purchased
while waiting for the delayed baggage to arrive.
Health Insurance: Supplemental health insurance may
be necessary if your own policy does not cover you during
your trip. Based on your travel destination, you may want
to include evacuation costs in the policy because evacuation
can be very expensive.
Expenses: When you are hit with a hospital, doctor
or dental bill overseas, the insurance company will pay instead
of you paying cash and seeking reimbursement from your medical
insurer back home.
Cancellation And Interruption Insurance: If you have
a sudden illness or other emergency preventing you from taking
your trip, you may lose your deposit or other pre-payments
associated with the trip. Trip cancellation and interruption
insurance provides reimbursement for non-refundable prepayments.
This type of insurance is generally recommended if you have
made a large non-refundable down payment and stand to lose
a considerable sum if you do not take the trip.
Travel Insurance - A Necessity
Overseas travel insurance, simply put, is travel protection.
It is a hedge against unforeseen circumstances. Insuring mitigates
risks while providing a financial cushion against adverse
financial burdens. Says Anurag Edward, product manager - travel,
ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company Ltd, Travel
insurance is generally purchased not sold. It is a conscious
call on the part of the individual traveller or even the company
to procure one for its employees for their trips abroad."
The objective is to safeguard oneself
from the risks of accidents, injuries, loss of goods, baggage
and a whole range of potential calamities. Why is it so important?
If you take just one example, say hospitalisation, overseas
medical expenses are at least ten times higher and it will
be tough going to pay the bills out of your pocket. Also,
accidents and mishaps can occur anytime, anywhere and never
with a warning. Therefore, it is important to identify the
risks faced and insure oneself. As Gautam Bhagat, national
accident and health manager, HDFC Chubb General Insurance
Company Ltd puts it, "Travel insurance is nothing but
a small price you pay for a huge coverage and assurance."
Currently frontline choice of companies selling travel insurance
are made up of ICICI Lombard, TATA AIG, Bajaj Allianz, IFFCO
TOKIO and HDFC Chubb in the private sector and New India Assurance,
National Insurance, United India Insurance and Oriental Insurance
in the public sector. In the two odd years post deregulation,
the 0private sector has penetrated about 20 per cent of the
market while the remaining 80 per cent is being served by
public sector units (PSUs). Says Edward, To penetrate
the large PSU domain, we have embraced technology to the hilt
and have developed web-enabled online policy issuance modules,
which effectively makes the corporate, a master of its own
turn-around times as, through this module, the corporate is
able to print Confirmation of Availability of Insurance
at its own end, prior to each trip. And that is what the positioning
of Globetrotter, our travel product, is - convenience to fly
across the world with ease."
the Indian mindset
Today, apart from buying travel insurance from the insurance
agents or the insurance company, the next-door travel agent
or a tour operator is also a convenient point of purchase.
Buying it directly gives the price advantage to the corporate.
Insurance is thus more buyer friendly.
In the review of the travel insurance
options that different brands are providing in the market
today (see boxes), it is apparent that the Indian corporate
traveller has protection against a huge range of uncertainties.
And needless to say, the number of people opting to purchase
travel insurance is also on an upward trend. And with the
arrival of international insurance companies and private players
in the market, competition among those providing this service
is also heating with technology being used to make services
better. Policy transaction over the Net is clearly one such
use of technology in insurance. In India, ICICI Lombard has
taken the first step in this direction by introducing a complete
web-based module for its corporate policies and is also introducing
the same for free individual travellers (FITs). Besides, the
company is changing the perception of transactions over the
Net being unsafe or insecure. To this end, ICICI has been
certified by Verisign for its online security guards against
frauds and to ensure safe buy-and-sell over the Net.
Such a range of players and policies
has therefore molded the Indian mindset into viewing insurance
as a necessity. Travel insurance happens to be one the areas
which, though a late starter in India, is catching up fast.
Business travellers have realised
that it is better to be safe than sorry.
Globetrotter - Overseas Travel Insurance
ICICI Lombards travel insurance product has two
sections: Overseas Corporate (Group) Travel Insurance
and Overseas Leisure (Individual) Travel Insurance.
Every business traveller is a globe trotter and so
the tagline 'Fly across the world with ease' aptly fits
the bill. Having got the approval from IRDA on its corporate
travel product in January, this year, ICICI Lombard
has scrutinised the market well enough to offer its
customers, convenience without a thought of worry. Whether
it is corporate or individual travel, Globetrotter is
a product comprehensive enough to meet the needs of
the traveller. The product also covers pre-existent
diseases, if they are life threatening. Let's now briefly
glance through the features of the product on offer.
Globetrotter - Overseas Corporate (Group) Travel Insurance:
This is a group product for corporate houses and a master
policy for all employees by virtue of a single umbrella
cover. Two kinds of covers are available: Standard Cover
(value for money, comprehensive proposition) and Basic
Cover (cost-effective no-frills offer). Bearing in mind
that technology is the future, the product stands out
with its web-based module. Through this online module,
the corporate is able to issue 'Confirmation of Availability
of Insurance' for each trip at its own end and convenience.
This helps surpass the trifling worries of an insurance
agent not being at your beck and call and even sudden
emergencies. The premium is calculated day wise and
charged for the actual number of days you travel and
not on a slab-basis resulting in immense savings for
the corporate. The cover is hassle-free with no medical
checks required up to 70 years of age and with maximum
trip duration of as high as 180 days. The product also
offers a vast option of 12 plans, to suit needs of all
kinds. Another highlight of the product is that the
dependents of the employee are also covered in the same
Globetrotter - Overseas Leisure (Individual) Travel
This product also has two kinds of covers, Raffles and
Royal, within which there are individual plans, family
plans and annual multi trip plans (only in Royal coverage).
This will be available through the travel agent network.
The agent will be able to issue the policy online through
The Raffles Cover: This product-version is targeted
at the cost-conscious budget traveller. This comprises
of a no-frills pure-health plan including medical, repatriation
and dental cover benefits. The latter two are offered
over and above the medical sum insured. The Raffles
Family Plan is an option with attractive family pricing.
It has the price advantage, providing economic cover.
The Royal Cover: This product-version is 'value-for-money'
providing comprehensive coverage spanning across as
many as 10 benefits which include, apart from the three
benefits mentioned in Raffles Cover above, loss of checked-in
baggage, expenses for emergency purchase of essential
items in case of an over 12-hour delay in checked-in
baggage, loss of passport, accidental injury, personal
liability and hijack distress allowance. And last of
all, financial emergency assistance, in case you get
robbed of your travel funds abroad. Besides this, one
also has the Royal Family Plan. In this Plan, parents
below the age of 60 years and maximum four children
below 17 years are covered at a special family price.
A unique feature of this Plan is that the price is independent
of age so long as it is within the maximum defined limit.
The maximum duration of cover per trip is 180 days for
single trip plans and 30-45 days for annual multi-trip
plans. Royal Multi-Trip Plan, is an interesting proposition
for the frequent small-time business traveller who makes
short but multiple trips in a year. He does not have
the critical mass in the form of minimum insured number
of days to purchase a corporate cover. At the same time,
he needs coverage throughout the year and not just for
180 days. The Royal Multi Trip Plans (annual cover),
with a defined maximum trip duration, covers such frequent
travellers for a full 365 days a year. So, he no longer
has to run around prior to each trip, trying to get
the single trip cover.
The claims processing of Globetrotter is handled by
the Germany-based leading international assistance company,
Mercur Assistance (of Munich Re Group - leading Reinsurers
of worldwide repute with AA+ Standard and Poor rating
) supported by Mumbai-based Paramount. Globetrotter
offers cashless claims settlement.
TravelGuard SM is a Global Travel Protection
policy that can be purchased by any resident Indian
between the ages of 6 months and 70 years, travelling
abroad on business or leisure. This policy requires
no medical certification for any individual irrespective
of age. However, a declaration of recent medical history
is needed. Any pre-existing ailments or medical conditions
are not covered under this policy.
Global assistance services for travellers is provided
by International SOS, a leading global assistance provider
in the world. Currently, TravelGuard SM is offered under
three different plans: Plan A, Plan B, and Annual Multi-Trip
Plans A ad B are single trip plans, where the overseas
stay is not to exceed 90 days. On the other hand, the
Multi-Trip Plan has been designed specially for the
global traveller. Under this plan, one can travel abroad
as often as you like and you will be covered, provided
each trip does not exceed 45 days.
TravelGuard protection covers reimbursement of accident
and sickness related expenses, loss of checked baggage,
delay of checked baggage (beyond 12 hours), accidental
death and dismemberment (common carrier only), emergency
evacuation, repatriation of remains, personal liability,
loss of passport.
The other general insurance products of Tata AIG which
travellers can avail of are Group Personal Accident
Plan which covers groups of individuals against accidental
death, dismemberment, permanent total disability, permanent
partial disability and permanent total loss of use.
Other benefits include accident medical benefits that
cover expenses incurred on medicines and doctor consultations
even if the member is not hospitalised, weekly indemnity
covers the member for loss of wages during the period
of temporary disability, accident hospital cash is a
per day allowance to cover out of pocket expenses incurred
by the member at the hospital where hospitalisation
is only due to an accident. In fact, this plan can be
customised by choosing the mix of covers and benefits,
and comes with the Tata AIG assurance of a claim settlement
within seven days of submission of all required documents.
Executive Guard: This policy covers you against accidental
death or injury 24 hours a day while at work or at home
or while travelling. Under this plan you receive a lump
sum compensation, in addition to any other benefits
you may receive from other sources. The policy has a
unique provision for weekly cash compensation while
you are confined to hospital for accident injuries outlined
in the policy.
Family Guard: This is an affordable plan that is specially
designed for the family in case of accidental death
or injury while at home, at work or while travelling.
Under this plan one receives a lump sum compensation,
in addition to any other benefits from other sources.
The policy has the provision for weekly cash compensation
of as much as Rs 500 per day while you are confined
to hospital for accidental injuries outlined in the
policy. This plan offers up to 50 per cent coverage
for spouse at lower premiums and 10 per cent coverage
for children at greatly reduced premiums.
New India Assurance has five plans available for frequent
corporate travellers. Plans A-1, A-2, B-1 and B-2 are
for corporates who travel on leisure or even individual
travellers. While Plans E-1 and E-2 are for corporate
executives or partners of registered firms.
The details of the plans are as follows:
Plan A-1: For travel to countries excluding USA and
Canada for business and holiday with insurance limited
to USD 50,000.
Plan-A-2: Same as A-1 except that benefits stand increased
to USD 2,50,000.
Plan B-1: For travel worldwide including USA and Canada
for business and holiday with insurance limited to USD
Plan B-2: Same as B-1 except that benefits stand increased
to USD 2,50,000.
Plan E-1: For travel worldwide including USA and Canada
for corporate frequent travellers (CFT) with insurance
limited to USD 1,00,000.
Plan E-2: Same as E-1, except that benefits stand increased
to USD 5,00,000.
CFT cover is available for executives of corporate
clients and partners of registered firms annually, subject
to the duration of any one trip not exceeding 60 days.
An additional add-on benefit for the business, holiday
and CFT cover is that in case of a personal accident,
compensation is paid to the nominee. Then there is loss
of checked-in baggage, delay of checked-in baggage,
loss of passport, personal liability.
The premium depends on age-band, trip-band and country
of visits. Initially, a cover up to 180 days is provided
under the business and holiday plan. Extension is allowed
on original policy for a further period of 180 days
subject to declaration of good health. The eligibility
age limit is from 6 months and above up to 70 years.
However, the policy has to be procured bearing in mind
that disease/illnesses are not covered (known and unknown).
And last of all, the first USD 100 of all claims are
to be borne by the traveller.
Overseas Travel Insurance Policy
There are three policies on offer by HDFC Chubb - domestic
travel policy, international business travel policy
and the annual multi-trip business travel policy, that
has been specifically designed for frequent travellers
for whom the maximum trip duration is 30 days but can
be extended to 180 days. All three policies have the
typical benefits like accidental death and permanent
The premium is based on the number of days one travels
as compared to a standard slab rate. The optional benefits
are emergency medical expenses, travel benefits, baggage
delay and loss, flight delay, hijacking, frequent flyer
interruption and a lot more. However, the additional
benefits are trip cancellation, hotel accommodation,
hotel extension and a whole lot more. Says Bhagat, "Through
our policies, we educate our customers on insurance.
Corporates also have the option of tailor-made insurances.
We have introduced a travel card which reduces the hassles
of paperwork and provides convenient usage."
Travel Companion - Corporate Lite/Corporate Plus:
This policy covers personal accidents, medical expenses
and repatriation that includes hospitalisation expenses
for accidents and illnesses plus medical evacuation
whenever necessary. The other benefits are accident
and sickness medical expenses (in patient), accident
medical expenses (out patient), sickness medical expenses
(out patient) limited to a maximum period of first 90
days of travel, emergency evacuation, repatriation of
remains and assistance services. Other benefits includes
cover for loss of checked baggage, delay of checked
baggage, loss of passport, hospitalisation allowance
and a lot more. The additional benefits are hospital
daily cash allowance, hijack cover and trip delay.
- Even though minimum time frame to purchase a travel
policy is five hours, it is advisable to purchase
it a couple of days in advance.
- It is preferable, to procure a policy from an insurance
agent rather than rely on a travel agent or a tour
operator because they could offer policies with self-serving
- Buy a travel insurance policy for the desired requirement
such as medical expenses, baggage loss etc because
insurance agents could ensure you assure yourself
for all possible vagaries.
- Always insure yourself for the amount that is necessary.
- It is also essential for a business traveller to
look at the options available through the credit card
before purchasing a travel insurance policy.
- Before taking a policy, ensure that the insurance
company spells out every single detail of the policy.
Ascertain whether there are any loop holes.
- Beware of buying a policy on the Internet, unless
you are 100 per cent sure.
A mother-daughter duo went abroad.
The mother had bought a policy from a public sector
undertaking (PSU), and the daughter had it from a private
sector player. The mother fell ill in Mexico and had
to be hospitalised. She was admitted to a hospital affiliated
with the PSU. She had to pay her own bills with the
expectation that they would be reimbursed later on by
the insurance company. She is still engaged in paperwork.
The daughter fell ill in Washington,
DC. She had to be shifted to a hospital, which was not
even affiliated with the private insurer. But she got
her reimbursement within months. The delay, she explains,
was partly because of the forex transfer.
This is a classic case illustrating the comparison between
the travel insurance policies offered by public sector
undertakings and the private players.
So, which product should one
choose for quick issuance, less cumbersome documentation,
the plans offered and claim settlement?
PSUs have more or less standard
plans. While they cover only accident and sickness expenses,
hospitalisation, emergency (medical) evacuation, repatriation
of remains and baggage loss, the private players also
cover the baggage delay, loss of passport, flight delays
etc. If there is a delay in take-off by more than 12
hours, one is given US$ 10 for meals.
Issuance of policy in case of
PSUs may take anywhere between three-four days. One
has to fill out seven to eight pages and get a medical
check-up done before one can get a travel policy. On
the other hand, in the case of private sector, the procedure
is simple and the form is not lengthy. Private insurance
policies are designed in such a way that the whole process
takes much lesser time.
Says a frequent flier, who is
a senior executive, The premium for a private
insurance policy is slightly more than a PSU policy,
but the add-ons and value for money is incomparable.
In case of a PSU policy, you
have to be admitted only to an affiliated hospital and
settle your own bills, which are reimbursed once you
are back in the country. The claim settlement in PSU
companies thus takes longer but they say that the process
of streamlining is on.
In case you are holding a private
insurance policy and need help, all you have to do is
to call up the insurer, give your policy number and
contact details. They contact you immediately and refer
you to the nearest affiliated hospital.