Should you buy travel insurance?

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Sharmila is an IT professional living in Bengaluru. Her aging parents, however, live in Kolkata. Forced to shuttle between the two cities frequently, and usually on short notice, Sharmila runs up high travel expenses each year.

Since flight tickets take up a large chunk of the costs, and since she buys them online, Sharmila always un-ticks the additional insurance fee offered by the vendor website. Each time, however, she worries that she might be taking an unexpected risk, but she does it anyway.

Should you buy travel insurance?

The fact is this: the insurance offered by such vendors usually costs about ten percent of your bill. Is it worth it? In most cases, you can avoid insuring domestic travel.

It is helpful to have a policy in place-just in case your bags get lost or your travel plans are cancelled at the last minute-but you can go without it too. There are times, however, when you should not take the risk of going without insurance. Let us consider some of these situations.

When Not to Ignore Travel Insurance

In Sharmila's case, flying within the Bangalore-Kolkata sector does not seem laden with much risk. But if Sharmila were planning an expensive holiday, whether within or outside the country, it would make sense to purchase insurance. In the case of international travel, for instance, one visa requirement may be the purchase of adequate travel insurance.

Nevertheless, even if the purchase of travel insurance is not mandatory, it is a good idea to back up your travel expenditure with a suitable policy. This proves useful, for instance, when you have to take connecting flights, but because your first flight is delayed, you miss the second one out of no fault of your own. Being stuck at an airport is never a good thing.

Travel insurance would also come in handy for Sharmila if her travel plans could change at a moment's notice. For example, if she were required to postpone her Europe trip because her parents fell ill. Uncertainty of schedule is a crucial factor in favour of buying insurance when pricey hotel and transport bookings are involved.

Similarly, travelling abroad during hurricane season is fraught with uncertainty. Hence, buying insurance for protection against the financial perils of trip cancellation or interruption is advisable.

Insuring the costs of the trip is only part of the picture. What if Sharmila fell ill and required medical care abroad? Medical emergencies are a big problem. Healthcare may be more expensive at her travel destination; therefore, she must ensure that she is not lagging behind on coverage. A traveller with pre-existing conditions must additionally to inform the insurer of the same.

Choosing the Right Travel Insurance

I mentioned at the start of the article that Sharmila always un-checks the travel insurance fee offered by the vendor when she is buying flight tickets. Other travellers might willingly pay that extra fee, but without reading the insurance details. As a result, they will not know what is covered and what is not.

Thus, rather than blindly purchase insurance at the vendor's site, the traveller should shop around for insurance, going directly to the insurer's website to compare rates, inclusions and exclusions. Only then can you buy travel insurance that provides adequate coverage at a reasonable cost.

Written By: Deepak Yohannan
The author is the CEO of, an online insurance price & features comparison portal

For more articles by Deepak Yohannan, please visit
You may contact him directly on Twitter: @dyohannan

Read more about: travel insurance
Story first published: Tuesday, May 20, 2014, 8:29 [IST]
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