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Dear Hotelier / Restaurateur / Traveler,

You will find the most comprehensive list of Insurance policies for your specific needs.

You've got a ticket to travel - If you want to avoid going on a holiday with the fear of unforeseen emergencies, you can opt for travel insurance.

The vacation season is drawing closer and you have made a perfect plan for that much needed and well-deserved break. All nitty-gritties have been taken care of and you are sure that nothing is amiss. Yet, you can't get rid of one nagging fear : What if things don't go according to the plan? One goes on a holiday to unwind, but this fear of the unknown can play spoilsport, defeating its very purpose.

So what's the solution? You can either keep your fingers crossed and pray that you have a smooth trip or opt for travel insurance. An increasing number of travelers today are realising the significance of travel insurance. It is your ticket to a tension-free holiday.

Why travel insurance?
Consider this: you are faced with a medical emergency in a foreign land with no one to ask for help and limited cash at your disposal - an ideal recipe for a disastrous holiday. Add to this, the fact that the cost of medical treatment in the US and European countries is very steep and you know why travel insurance needs to be a critical part of your travel plans.

If you have such a policy, you effectively transfer the headache of zeroing on a holiday and paying the bills to a third party - the insurance company. General insurers offer cashless service for hospitalisation, which means that you can avail of services abroad though you would have incurred the costs (i.e. premium) in rupees. If you happen to visit a doctor during your stay abroad for consultation, the amount will be reimbursed to you on the submission of the bill. Apart from medical risks, insurance companies also cover certain other emergencies such as accidents, loss of passport, delay or loss of baggage, missed flights, financial emergencies, home insurance (for instance, if your house is burgled or destroyed in fire while you are on a tour) and even hijacking.

Cost of insurance -
Four factors influence premium calculations: Age, Destination, Duration of Travel and Insurance Plan opted for. Depending on these four factors, the travel insurance premium could vary from Rs.350 to Rs.36000. Typically, the duration of the policy is in the range of seven to 180 days. Usually, the policy holder is allowed an extention too. If you happen to travel frequently, you can also buy an annual insurance policy, which will be valid for several trips made during the year. A point to be noted here is that many insurers also provide such policies in collaboration with tour operators. It comes as part of your travel package. If the policy is customised, the costs involved might be higher.

Finding the right insurer -
A thorough study of plans offered by various insurers and a comparison of features is the best way of identifying the policy suitable for you. The reputation of these companies in disposing of claims is of utmost importance because at the end of the day what matters to you is the reimbursement of expenses incurred during the trip. Quality of customer service and product innovation are the key differentiators. The key in travel insurance is service, because here, the insurer will have to come to the rescue of the insured at the place and the time of the incident's occurence. Also, the reach is important becuase it means more convenience for the insured.

The age factor also needs to be looked into closely. Certain insurance companies insist on medical reports in case of those over 70. You should also watch out for the exclusions and deductibles in the policy. Usually, pre-existing illness, addiction to alcohol and drugs, mental disorder, war and war-like situations are not covered by insurers. Also, most insurance policies have a clause wherein the first US$100 incurred during the course of an emergency has to be borne by the insured.

Claim settlement -
Documents to be submitted for making a claim could vary according to the reasons. If you are seeking a reimbursement for fees paid to a doctor for consultation, the bills will have to be produced. Similarly, if the claim is for loss of baggage, a letter from the airlines confirming the same has to be submitted. Ideally, an insurance company should take between 7 to 10 days to process the claims. Traveling light, as we all know, is advisable as it reduces the clutter, thereby making the trip more enjoyable. Travel insurance is also a part of this approach, because buying such a policy would mean carrying the worry baggage less.

LEAVE YOUR WORRIES BEHIND - Get travel insurance to ensure safe holidays

The most frequently asked question by families going on an overseas holiday is whether to take a travel insurance or not. If you are flying to countries like the US or any western European country, you don't have a choice, as it is a must. However, if you are going on a vacation to destinations in South or South-East Asia, Africa, South America, Western and Central Asia, travel insurance is not mandatory.

Need for travel insurance
Most people going on a holiday abroad do not take insurance as they are visiting relatives or friends and think the hosts can take care of them. But this is not the best way to cover risks. Also, there are various benefits to taking travel insurance. Not only does it take care of your medical expenses and repatriation if you fall ill, but also covers you against personal accident, loss of checked baggage, loss of passport, personal liability, cash-less service and trip delay.

Various options
Travel insurance products come with various options and you can choose the one that meets your needs. If you think that you and your family would require a travel insurance to cover only unforeseen hospitalization expenses in an alien country, then you can choose a plain vanilla cover. Here, the premiums would be much less than if you choose to be insured against other losses as well.

Cost factor
Here is a ballpark figure. Travel insurance premium is likely to be less than Rs.2500 for a family of four for a 14-day trip for a basic plan that covers risks like medical expenses, personal accident, loss of checked baggage or passport and cashless service. If you travel as a family, insurance companies provide discounts on the overall premiums.

The premium depends on the age of the travelers and the duration of the trip. But there are some exceptions. Fox example, if the trip is to the US, then premiums are double than to elsewhere in the world since medical costs are high in the US.

Even if the chances of you meeting with an accident or losing your baggage or your trip getting delayed are small, having insurance will save you from endless frustration if such a mishap does occur. Having an insurance plan can make your holiday that much easier.

It takes about a week to 10 days to get the policy documents. You can also buy travel insurance online. If you have arranged your trip through a dedicated tour and travel company, travel insurance usually comes at a discount, depending on the tie-up between the tour operator and the insurance company.

If adventure-based activities like bungee jumping, parasailing or deep sea walking are going to be a part of your holiday, then all the more reason to get insurance. Although insurers offer cover for such activities, the premiums are much higher as the risk associated with such sports is also high.

A word of caution
Most people opt for insurance for $50,000 or $100,000 or an even larger sum to cover all risks. However, in the event of loss of checked baggage or passport the claim amount to be paid is capped at $100 to $500 (depending on the company), irrespective of the sum insured.

Before you sign on the dotted line be sure to get answers to these questions. How much is the sum assured? What is the exact nature of the insurer's payout? Insurance companies have specific payout for a particular claim and may not pay the entire sum insured for it. Check whether your policy covers medical expenses and repatriation. Check the claim payout for loss of checked baggage or passport. Be sure to understand the procedure to follow in order to make a claim. Most importantly, keep the toll free number of the company for any emergency. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Travel Without Tension
Insurance Companies
Sum Insured*
Bajaj Allianz General
ICICI Lombard
New India Assurance
* There is a cap on non-medical claims like loss of baggage, which differs from company to company.
Assumption: A family of four, all below 40 years of age, traveling to low-cost destinations.
Note: Premiums given are only for covers such as personal accidents, medical expenses and repatriation, loss of checked baggage, loss of passport, personal liability and cashless service.

Tata AIG in insurance tie-up with SpiceJet

Tata AIG General Insurance has tied up with low-cost airline SpiceJet to launch a special insurance product for domestic airline passengers. The product will be sold to passengers when they book their air tickets online. Apart from accidental death and emergency accidental medical cost, the company also covers flight delays, baggage loss and emergency assistance. Khalid Sohail, head of travel insurance services at Tata-AIG, said the product provides comprehensive cover to passengers unlike existing products that cover accident and death. The product, called Domestic TravInsure, protects passengers on various modes of transport for 30 days and has been tried in other markets around the world. Flight delays of over six hours are covered by the policy. It targets the 65 million domestic air passengers, but has been launched with SpiceJet.
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