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Why you should buy travel insurance as soon as you book a holiday abroad

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Recently, Mumbai resident Neha Sharma, a PR firm executive, was in the news for seeking help from the Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj, on Twitter after she was stranded in Bali following a severe accident. Neha, 32, who hails from New Delhi, went to Bali in the last week of December for a vacation with a friend. However, on December 29, the car in which she and her friend were travelling met with an accident as the driver fell asleep while on the wheels. The accident was so severe that the driver died on the spot while Sharma sustained fractures in her leg, wrist, and fingers along with injuries on her face. Post the accident, Neha had to undergo seven hours of surgery at a local hospital where an official from the Indian Embassy in Bali, as per media reports, met her and assured assistance with her health insurance claims once she s back home.

In a series of tweets, Neha demanded an immediate medical evacuation from the government. Unfortunately, the same wasn’t obliged. In fact, had she just spent a mere Rs 300 on buying a travel insurance worth coverage of $50,000 online for her 10-days trip to Bali, all this mental pain and financial stress could have been easily avoided. Call it sheer ignorance or indifference – many travellers like her taking a trip abroad make the huge mistake of not spending a pity amount on buying adequate travel insurance. Rather, what most travellers think of buying travel insurance as an additional cost, especially when the trips are short, not realizing that the cost is pretty meagre for the coverage it offers against any emergencies you may face on your travel, especially related to health.

With more and more people frequently travelling abroad for holiday, business or education, travel insurance has become an absolute must. Most importantly because on a trip abroad, the expenses related to any hospitalisation like the one stated above can be exorbitant and can drill a hole in your pocket, and not only in a developed country but also exotic holiday destinations in the under developed or developing regions of the world. Though a misconception surrounding travel insurance is that it only covers against flight delay, trip cancellation costs, loss of baggage or passport, and theft, but the fact is it also provides adequate protection against medical expenses.

Natural calamities disrupting a travel plan is yet another important risk it covers. The recent volcanic eruption that disrupted flights to Bali, stranding millions of vacationers from all parts of the globe, is a perfect example. It was reported that once the eruptions began in the Indonesian island, major insurers applied a cut-off date and only claims for policies that were purchased before the cut-off were entertained by the insurers. However, people who had travel insurance were reimbursed for their hotel, food and travel expenses for the days they were stranded in the island. Under any such natural calamity, the total expenses for staying in a foreign land can cost you anywhere between Rs 2 and Rs 3 lakh for around 10 days.

South East Asia is a popular holiday destination amongst vacationers across the globe for the economically-viable deals it offers. The spirited cities, remote hill tribes, vast lakes, and spellbinding rainforests together make for a memorable holiday experience to be only found in South-East Asia. But not to forget, with travel plans also comes the stress of some unforeseen circumstances which you can control through opting for travel insurance.

Travel insurance when travelling to South East Asia also covers the cost of any lost goods or possibility of a theft or robbery. When on a holiday you are not in your usual well-known whereabouts, therefore, you can be more prone to thefts and mugging. You could lose your passport and other travel documents. All such items are covered in your insurance plan and it is a very useful feature for those who want to stay connected while on a holiday.

Not only does travel insurance get you feeling secure with your belongings, but it also adds bonus security while travelling to regions where the weather conditions too can vary like that in South East Asia. It is handy to have travel insurance that would cover any change in flights. There are insurance policies available which assure your insurance on flights and accommodation when you have to reschedule your entire trip due to flight cancellations or may even miss out on a connecting flight.

(By Tarun Mathur, Chief Business Officer-General Insurance, Policybazaar.com)