Why multi-trip travel insurance is better if you're travelling frequently

As the fear of terrorist strikes in major tourist destinations grows, taking travel insurance has become imperative. Recently, London suffered two terrorist attacks within a fortnight. At the beginning of the year, a similar incident happened in a nightclub in an Istanbul, Turkey.

For frequent travellers or those who holiday with family abroad two-three times a year, opting for an annual multi-trip (AMT) travel insurance makes more sense than buying a policy every time you travel. “The multi-trip policy comes out to be cheaper if the individual travels abroad two or three times a year,” says Anurag Rastogi, chief actuary and head–retail underwriting and claims, HDFC ERGO General Insurance Company.

The features offered in AMT travel insurance are same as those provided in one-time travel insurance plan. “The premium varies depending on the number of days a traveller stays abroad,” says Sasikumar Adidamu, Chief Technical Officer–Non Motor, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance. For example, if someone in the 41-60-year age group takes a $500,000 cover, the premium is Rs 4,700 for plans that limit the stay to 30 days for each trip, and Rs 5,100 for plans with a 45-day cap.

A few companies, such as Religare Health Insurance and Max Bupa, also have plans that let individuals get treatment abroad. The sum insured for such policies can go up to Rs six crore. “Even if an individual has this policy, he should still go for travel insurance as there are many additional essential benefits it offers,” says Anuj Gulati, managing director and CEO, Religare Health Insurance. While the key reason tourists buy travel insurance is health, it also offers benefits such as trip cancellation, loss and delay of baggage, loss of passport, and so on.

While the policy from Religare Health insurance covers all kinds of treatment – planned or unplanned – others restrict the treatment you can undergo. “Some may cover only those medical expenses incurred on emergency treatment for an illness or injury sustained or contracted outside of India, which cannot be postponed. Others only cover specified critical illnesses. Also, they may charge extra for treatment of specified diseases in US and Canada,” says Dhruv Sarin, head of health and travel insurance, Policybazaar.com.

While travel insurance covers individuals for medical exigencies, it doesn’t usually offer coverage for pre-existing illnesses. So if a traveller has a cardiac condition and gets a heart attack abroad, he won't be covered. Most don’t cover illnesses pertaining to pre-existing conditions. If a person has hypertension and gets a stroke, most insurers would not cover the treatment. “Insurers would also not cover if a doctor has advised the insured against travelling,” says M Ravichandran, president–insurance, Tata AIG General Insurance. Ravichandran adds that individuals should correctly declare all pre-existing conditions when taking the policy to avoid hassles later. Some do cover pre-existing diseases if it becomes a life-threating.

Insurers also don’t reimburse claims if you cancel trips because there’s a terrorist attack at the destination. “There’s also no coverage for injuries due to hazardous activity or sports; partial loss of checked in baggage and loss of passport if it is left unattended in public and not reported to police within 24 hours,” says Parag Gupta, chief underwriting officer, Bharti AXA General Insurance.

Also ensure that the country that you travelling to is not excluded from the coverage of the insurer. Travel to countries such as Syria, North Korea, Congo and so on are not covered by insurers. There’s a list of countries available in the terms and conditions. Have a look at it before you buy. Many insurers also have specific policy for different regions such as North America, Asia and Schengen. The prices vary depending on the medical costs in each country. If you are taking a multi-destination trip, ensure that you take a policy that provides coverage in all the countries you are travelling to.

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