Travel Insurance

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Published in Mint on 21 July, 2015, Written by Abhishek Bondia

My office provides medical cover up to Rs.3 lakh for the family. Should I take a top-up from the same insurer?
—Vikram Gandotra

Insurance companies offer two kinds of top-up covers. One is a group top-up plan, linked to the employer’s group insurance scheme, and the other is an independent top-up plan. The big advantage of the group top-up plan is that benefits of group insurance plan are carried forward. For instance, pre-existing diseases may be covered from day one in a group top-up plan. A group plan, however, carries the risk of being discontinued at the employer’s discretion and would certainly end with employment. The independent top-up plan is not linked to your employment. Once the initial waiting period for pre-existing ailments is over, it becomes at par with a group top-up plan, and can be renewed throughout the policyholder’s life, irrespective of the base plan.
If the benefits are similar, it does not matter if the top-up insurer is different from the base plan insurer. The key difference among top-up plans is the approach to apply deductibles.
Deductible could be applied on each and every claim separately, or could be applied cumulatively over multiple claims in a year. The latter is better but more expensive.
I will be going to London to study in about two months. Should I take an insurance cover from India before I leave? Will the university accept this as a substitute for their compulsory insurance cover?

You should buy a student travel insurance to cover you as a student in London. Most overseas universities offer their own registered insurances but also allow students to buy cover from their home country provided the main insurance requirements are met. Generally, the requirements are in terms of sum assured and cover for pre-existing diseases. Buying insurance in India is considerably more cost-effective—often one-fourth of international costs. The only situation in which overseas insurance makes more sense is if you have a pre-existing disease. Cover for that is far better in overseas insurances.
Some insurers provide a list of universities that accept their insurance and also give a 30-day free-look period to return the insurance if the university does not accept it.
Are those travelling abroad on business allowed to buy travel insurance? I will be going for work purposes for three days. Will I be given insurance?
—Paras Munjal

Yes, business travellers are eligible to buy travel insurance. In fact, the benefits do not vary based on purpose of travel. It is customary for business travellers to buy travel insurance, particularly for countries where health care is expensive. For frequent business travellers, I recommend an annual multi-trip policy. It is cost-effective and saves the hassle of buying a new policy each time.