Insuring Your Holiday

More and more senior citizens are travelling abroad. They must make insurance an essential aspect of their travel plans, finds out Gaver Chatterjee

The overseas travel sector is booming. Last year, Indians made six and a half million trips overseas. While 55% of this was corporate travel, a fair chunk came from senior citizens increasingly taking to foreign travel. That is a direct fallout of the Indian diaspora. Today many Indian youngsters are working abroad. They are inviting their parents to come over for a holiday and are ready to foot the cost of the ticket. Senior citizens today are living a different kind of existence compared to what their parents did. Today's middle-class senior citizens are seeing their kids earning big bucks at a comparatively young age and they are in a position to travel abroad to meet them. They come back and talk to their neighbours about it who in turn want to make a similar trip. Besides, air fares for foreign travel being comparable today to domestic fares, many a people are opting for overseas destinations, whatever their age group.

While there are a myriad travel agencies and tour operators guiding travellers with much-needed travel advice, what is often overlooked in this process is the critical need of senior citizens in taking out travel insurance. Indian insurance companies are trying to educate travellers not only of the merits of adopting an overseas travel insurance but also on the value of buying it within the country before venturing abroad.

"There is a misconception in the minds of many that a Mediclaim or a life insurance covers a traveller for overseas travel," says Sudhir Menon, Head-Travel Insurance & Worksite Marketing, ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company Ltd. "However remember that neither of these two will be of any value when travelling abroad. Mediclaim is for domestic use only and neither scheme is going to cover you for aspects like baggage loss or delay, passport loss etc." Menon also points out that many travellers, especially senior citizens prefer the option of going abroad and letting their kids handle the insurance for them in the foreign country of their destination. He emphasises that it makes far better sense to get the insurance done here. "Remember that a policy purchased here, starts and ends here, unlike one which is bought abroad and which does not cover you all the way till you return," he says. "Over and above everything else, it is far cheaper here where one pays in Indian currency unlike when one buys in a foreign country."

To make it easier for senior citizens, many Indian companies have introduced special schemes to fit in with different plans of travel as well as other steps for their convenience. "For instance, we make provisions to take the contact numbers of the children being visited by the travellers. We call them and explain the scheme to them and arrange for them to buy directly from us," says Menon. Insurance companies in India are also making foreign travel much easier for the country's senior citizens by introducing a number of other steps, which are customised to meet their needs. ICICI Lombard for example has made provisions for a toll free number in the US to which travellers can call where they are spoken to by a service provider who speaks in Indian English. Says Menon: "Senior citizens are quite vulnerable. It makes good sense to have a reliable travel insurance scheme to ensure a trouble-free holiday. With the kind of flexibility and covers which are available today, there is something to fit into everybody's scheme of things."

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