Summer vacations are almost here, and people in India are gearing up for family travel! The outbound market from India is big now! I know as a travel blogger because the tourism boards which in the past told bloggers they don’t work with Indian Bloggers are now coming back to promote their destination in India!
While a lot of things associated with travel are fun, packing and getting travel insurance generally don’t fall in that category. But love it or hate it, we all need travel insurance, international travel insurance more so. I never leave on a trip abroad without travel insurance even though I have never used it – and may it remain like that always!
The first reason we need travel insurance is because of the strength of Indian Rupees, rather a lack of it. I shudder to think what would happen to my bank account if I ever got hospitalized abroad on one of my trips, or needed medical attention, say by spending in Euros, Dollars or Pounds! Having travel insurance takes that hassle out of the equation. That is where travel insurance is useful.
However, a travel insurance covers many other types of situations as well – like delay in arrival of baggage, loss of checked-in baggage, flight delay of over 6 hours, etc. While it sounds very useful, I wonder how easy it would be to claim an insurance; as I have never made a claim, I have no idea.
Buying travel insurance by destination is easy now, anyone can buy it with a few clicks. Comparing insurance policies is easy too! So don’t leave on your trip without insurance. You need international travel insurance even before you can apply for a Schengen visa.
But if you are on an adventure trip, do remember to take out a policy that covers adventure sports, the normal travel insurance doesn’t cover adventure sports.
Travel insurance to me is equal to peace of mind; I never leave on an international trip without it.
All of us in our day to day life use insurance products some or the other time. For me, the most commonly used insurance product is travel insurance whenever I go abroad. Taking out a travel insurance is so easy, you can go online compare prices and see what works out for you. I have been lucky to not claim under travel insurance but having it gives me a peace of mind. If you travel a lot, then make sure that your travel insurance policy offers comprehensive coverage.
Most of the common travel insurance policies would not cover adventure travels. Do read the fine print and only then take out the policy.
The next most commonly used insurance product for me is car insurance. Once again car insurance can also be purchased or renewed online. Also showrooms, from where you bought the car, take care of car insurance renewal. I am lucky that the showroom from where I bought the car from reminds me every time about the renewal. They also send someone to collect the check.
The third most common insurance that I use is the medical insurance. I am covered from my husband’s company. We have used medical insurance twice for his hospitalization, they were minor operations. But the medical bills were large. His medical insurance company offers excellent service, so we never had any issues in claiming the amount. Most of the medical insurance companies offer 90% cover for medical costs, while 10% have to be paid by us.
Buying a general insurance policy is easy, but selection of the best one requires you to look at important factors such as the customer reviews and track record of the company when it comes to honoring a claim. I hope all of us are lucky and we never need to use any kind of insurance, but if we are in need and if it is difficult to claim the insurance, then what is the point of having insurance in the first place?
So what is your insurance story? Do share in the comments.
My approach to packing is far from ideal! Most of the times I am in denial about it! I delay it as much as I can. I subconsciously think that if I would not look at it, somehow packing would get done on its own. Unfortunately it never happens. But as I end up taking a few foreign trips every year, I have developed a method to the madness, at least for essentials to pack on a foreign trip. This is how I go about it.
Visa, Passport, Tickets and Other Essential Documents
For me the first to tick off the list are what I call the essential documents. A valid passport is obvious, so are the flight tickets. Most of the overseas trips require advance hotel reservations. If the country has visa it needs to be done beforehand.
If it is visa on arrival (VOA) I generally jump around with joy on that trip. However, VOA requires its own list of documents- photos, hotel reservations, proof of funds etc. For me getting the essential documents right is the first step of packing for an international trip.
Travel Insurance could be mandatory to enter some countries around the world. Getting travel insurance is in any case, an extremely wise thing to do! I carry it on all my trips abroad. I have been lucky till date because I’ve never had any need to use it but I can’t think of going abroad without travel insurance. The cost of medical facilities could be prohibitive in some countries and it makes sense to buy travel insurance.
I was browsing through the Royal Sundaram Travel Insurance webpage recently. It is an extremely detailed page listing various provisions of its policies. Their multi trip insurance particularly caught my eye. It is something I need to dig in more detail! The best bit about travel insurance is that we can apply online, and the cost no longer is too high!
Deciding on the foreign currency is also a major task. I do not have a forex card yet but with every passing day it looks attractive. I often end up changing money and for that I carry either dollars or pounds if the local currency is not easily available. I also like to withdraw money from an ATM these days. Whatever you prefer, forex requires some thought and planning.
For me happiness on a trip depends on carrying the right gadgets. For me I need to check three things. I basically wish to have three chargers with me- for the cell phone, camera and the laptop. After that I make sure I have packed the three gadgets as well. I sometimes carry an e-book reader, a Nook, but it has not yet moved to my essentials. On some trips I am happy with a paper book too! But if I miss out on any of the other three, it affects my capability to enjoy the trip. I can sometimes afford to leave the laptop behind; but as mine is a lightweight, I often lug it around too. I also always carry an adapter on my trips abroad.
For clothes, the first thing I look at is the weather forecast. I need to know how cold it would be. I am someone who doesn’t like to get cold. Once I know how the weather is going to be, I can decide what clothes to pack! I almost always carry a swimsuit.
For me, the size of the suitcase depends on the number of days I am traveling for. Thailand is one exception though. I always carry a big suitcase there because I know I will fill it with shopping!
Luckily I do not take any prescription medicines at this stage of my life. So I carry a few general medicines for fever, cold etc. Sorting this out almost completes my essential packing.
I hardly wear any accessories; just a few earrings are more than enough. Walking shoes are a must for me! If I need to attend formal functions I put in formal footwear too.
Essentials to pack for a foreign trip are not that complicated. Now if only I could start packing a little ahead of my trip and not leave it all to the last minute!
Even though I never had to use my travel insurance while traveling abroad, I have realized the importance of knowing what is covered and what is not. Adventure travel insurance is different from normal travel insurance! And I learned it at my cost!
When I was trekking to the Everest Base Camp, in Nepal I had this unnerving chat with my trip provider Puru of ‘Above the Himalayas’. He asked me, “So do you have helicopter evacuation cover?” Now this completely stumped me. It was May of 2012. I had a normal travel insurance policy. Sitting in his office I realized that most of them do not cover adventure sports! I decided to proceed on the trek without any insurance cover, nothing to say what about emergency evacuation cover.
In India helicopter rescue is anyway not common. But in Nepal it is possible and effective. I came back from the trek safely to tell the tale. But I have learned my lesson. It is extremely important to know what is being covered rather than just looking at the lowest price! In 2013 I trekked in Nepal again with the right kind of travel insurance cover, I took it out with World Nomads.
Then I went as a pillion rider, in 2014, on a snowmobile in Lapland, Finland with a daredevil who answers by the name of Mark Pedro Hindle. He drove at such a speed that I suddenly became conscious of how brittle my body was and how many bones it had, all of which breakable! I worried about my neck getting broken, I was happy for the helmet I wore and other protective gear I had. I actually thought of my father during the drive and how upset he would be if I ended up in a hospital in Finland.
I was lucky that my sponsors for the trip, Nokia, were bearing my medical expenses. While my thoughts were a confused muddle, I maintained an outwardly calm. Mark promised that I only needed to scream to let him know that I wanted us to go faster! I cannot tell you how relieved I was when that ride was over. Mark is a thorough gentleman when he is off the snowmobile. I asked him if he had gone snowmobiling before and he said his favorite is dirt biking. I immediately understood where he was coming from! The lesson I learned this time was to know your rider before you go and get attached as a pillion! And you need to avoid daredevils with a penchant for dirt biking at all costs.
Do you have any adventure/travel insurance stories to share?