Foreign Travel Insurance? Here’s Why You Should Buy It from a Foreign Insurer
Do you plan to join the 25 million Indians who travelled abroad in 2017, with the number expected to go up to 50 million by 2020, and will you be securing your risks and liabilities by taking all risks travel insurance – voluntarily, by choice or because the destination countries insist on it? And if so, will you, like almost all these 25 to 50 million people, buy your travel insurance from an Indian company?
 
My wife is a frequent global traveller and we, typically, pick up a multi-entry multi-trip all risks travel insurance for the whole world. 
 
The one we picked up last was Tata-AIG multi-platinum 45 days, which meant top of the line coverage, for all trips anywhere in the world not exceeding 45 days each. The validity was from 13 September 2017 to 12 September 2018.
 
In the cover note (incidentally, we never received the full insurance policy document) was a line to the effect that an automatic extension of seven days was part of this policy. This policy cost us about Rs15,000 for a full year, no single trip to be more than 45 days.
 
My wife left India for various countries on 2 August 2018 and was scheduled to return on or around 24 September 2018. Allowing for 45 days + 7 days, and a renewal when due, we thought we had the travel insurance well in place.
 
Around the end of August 2018, we received a reminder for renewal dated end July 2018, by hard copy and also by email, quoting the policy number in the subject line. 
 
The renewal cost was just about thrice the cost of the original policy, all other parameters remaining the same, except that my wife had entered the 61-70 years’ age band from the 50-60 years’ band.  
 
The renewal was going to cost me about Rs45,000.
 
So I called the toll-free number and explained the whole situation as follows:
a) Wife is travelling and needs extension from 12 September 2018 onwards.
b) How do we resolve the 45 days’ limit.
c) Why is the premium so high?
 
I was told that for renewal, she would have to return to India before the expiry of the policy on 12 September 2018. 
 
For resolving the 45 days’ limit? they said there is no solution, because the seven days automatic renewal applies only if a flight is cancelled and there is no alternate flight option. 
And as for the premium being high, I was told that is because she has gone into the next age band.
 
There was one solution I discovered on the Tata AIG website - I could reduce the cover from Platinum to Gold and the duration from 45 days to 30 days, at which level it would be a more reasonable Rs23,000 or so. This I discovered online on the Tata AIG website without any help from Tata AIG.
 
However, before all this, I was given a huge run around because I was told that the policy number was incorrect. 
 
After a few calls, I finally got through to somebody who then told me that the policy number had been changed because of the internal migration policy of Tata AIG, and they did not think it fit to mention the changed policy number to me even in the renewal letter. 
 
Imagine the effect of this practice if one is trying to make a claim abroad. Or if any of the immigration authorities had tried to re-verify the policy or the cover note.
 
The long and short of it was that I was told that unless my wife returned from Europe to renew her travel policy, her movements to other countries en route back to India were going to be cut short as she would be without insurance cover while travelling from one country to another, and that any solution by Tata AIG was simply not feasible. 
 
And for any change in policy terms or a fresh policy – “you got it right, Madam will have to return to India,” is what I was told.
 
More than anything else, this was informed to me over phone by the call centre staff in the same tone of voice and attitude that they reserve for denying a claim. 
 
A "Do what you wish" kind of message being voiced over the phone. They may have assumed I was talking from abroad.
 
It was at that juncture, that a person who is an even more frequent traveller, suggested that we look at picking up a short-term two-week policy from abroad, from destination countries, directly. 
 
Sometimes the best solutions are the simplest.
 
It took me less than 15 minutes online to pick up a fresh cashless policy for the missing period: 12th to 24 September 2018, for all of Rs1,200 or so.   
 
With a direct cashless linkage by the insurance company in their own home country to hospitals in their own country. 
 
The only condition was that the policy needed to be bought one day before travel. In addition, the age band for senior citizens in their case started at the end of the 64th year, i.e., on the 65th birthday.
 
I did not even have to attach any ID or age proof. Just name, nationality, date of birth. 
 
When I called up their call centre, I was told that they assumed we are filling the truth in the online form and, if we are not, then not only would the claim be in jeopardy but it would also be considered a serious attempt to defraud by forgery. 
 
What about previous ailments, I asked over the phone and was told that, the policy was only for 15 days and covered any medical problem in those 15 days other than dental treatment not caused by an accident, full stop.
 
The policy issued by Tata AIG in India has lapsed. 
 
I am now bombarded by calls and reminders to renew or revive the policy. 
 
One of them even quotes the seven days extension. 
 
On the other side, middle-level management are busy throwing fine print at me on why they cannot bend from their policies in facilitating an extension or renewal. 
 
And more interestingly, how the seven-day extension is simply not feasible.
 
The policy issued abroad is signed by a human being who also appends his local regulatory authority's ID number as well as his competence and qualifications. 
 
Insurance Regulatory Development Authority in India (IRDAI) also has a similar clause, but I have yet to see anybody (other than old-timer insurance agents and government insurance company staff) contacting me from an insurance company in India, quoting the IRDAI certification number.
 
(Veeresh Malik is an activist from Delhi, who continues to explore several things in life.)
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COMMENTS

AMIT S PHATAK

2 weeks ago

you mentioned \" policy issued abroad is signed by a human being who also appends his local regulatory authority\'s ID number as well as his competence and qualifications. \"
how was this possible if you bought this policy online?

Sukanya Rao

2 months ago

I am traveling to Singapore only on 15th October for a week. I searched for inbound travel insurance and I am unable to trace any. Would you be aware of any agency providing the same?

Rajeevpillai

3 months ago

I highly recommend foreign insurance because of fast,Secured and progressive sector. An employee perspective from Shwas Homes by Shwas Group...

Sajjan Isaac

3 months ago

I usually buy online at https://www.insubuy.com. As the range of policies is wide, it is good to spend some time studying and understanding the terms and conditions before selecting one...
Also, some travel agents try to insist that only insurance bought from an Indian company is valid, esp when applying for a visa. This is false.
The other aspect to keep in mind is the difficulty of getting a cashless claim abroad if using an Indian policy.

RAJENDRA DALPATRAM MEHTA

3 months ago

Mr. Veeresh Malik, Does the foreign Insurance Company cover the existing disease? Please also note that I am a senior citizen. Please also name two three insurance Companies in USA, who would insure.

REPLY

Veeresh Malik

In Reply to RAJENDRA DALPATRAM MEHTA 3 months ago

Sir, each country, each insurer, each policy will have different terms and conditions. You would have to research this on your own, online, well before departure. All I am saying is this - an "inbound travel insurance" tends to work better than an "outbound travel insurance" from point of view of layers of incompetence.

Sonica Agarwal

3 months ago

Recently, during my visit to UK, i faced an insurance problem and realized that when travelling abroad, buy insurance from the foreign insurers as they r more aware of the working of their healthcare industry. My 10 month old son contracted chickenpox during our visit to UK. Since UK has an NHS driven healthcare, we walked in at one of the centres, were quickly attended to, diagnosis given and were told the remedial measures that need to be taken. However, the problem started wen the airline told us they wont allow us to travel without a fitness certificate or we will hav to wait for around 12 days before travelling back. NHS under it's rules could not issue fitness certificate. So, a private doctor was reqd which is quite expensive. Besides, extending our stay meant extending the insurance. We didn't want a situation whr we r uncovered n contract something. Talking to the Indian insurers n explaining the situation was turning to be difficult. It didnt help that our insurer had Spain as their service centre for UK related issues (communication wasn't easy). Our insurer was an Indian govt agency. Its site facilitated taking insurance but not extending. The Indian helpline worked only Monday to Friday. We were originally scheduled to travel back Saturday night (UK time). By the time, we decided to cancel tickets, it was Friday night time in India(beyond call center timings).

My learnings from the experience:
1. Do not buy travel insurance at the last minute. Invest some time.
2. Do not choose insurer merely based on premium. Although, in the absence of information, this is what most of us will do.
3. Take insurance for a few days beyond your return travel date, as if your extension is due to illness, some insurers may not permit extension. Similarly having it for a few days extra allows u to not get stuck due to non-working day/hrs.
4. Foreign insurers may b reasonable, but that will also require a lot of due diligence.
5. While Indian insurers do not allow taking out a policy once ur travel has commenced, many foreign insurers allow that. However i only came across such foreign insurers allowing it for their own country residents.

REPLY

Veeresh Malik

In Reply to Sonica Agarwal 3 months ago

The foreign insurance company (who are present in India through a JV too) enabled us to pick up travel insurance whilst in UK for onward travel to UAE for which I paid online using an Indian credit card and it was fully accepted at Dubai Airport when she entered Dubai from UK. The complete co-ordination on the policy is in UAE directly.

Abhishek Singh

3 months ago

I feel that IRDA is more responsible for all the insurance troubles (life/general) that we have here...they are not much bothered about public...

Harish

3 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Ashwin Mehta

3 months ago

In past I also had similar experience with 1) Bajaj Allianz once. 2) with ICICI LOMBARD also during our visit to USA. I wrote regarding this to Mr. Raj Pradhan about the same and my experience has been published in Moneylife. At that time also I suggested to buy insurance from destination country ( in my case USA). Even right now I am at SanJose (USA) and purchased my policy from the website http://www. visitorscoverage.com the policy being “Patriot America” a comprehensive policy for coverage of about 1 lakh USD for a one month period costing me 200 USD as the premium. Pl contact me on +1-669-253-8620 for more details. I can share my experiences with majority Indian insurance company. But the USA insurance company and few doctors here at “URGENT CARE” are equally same as India. Only a computer savvy person can deal with them. I got my claim of USD 242 reimbursed (after my 50$ deduction)and was able to get back 192$ in 2016 at SanJose. And about 135$ at Boston in 2017.

REPLY

RAJENDRA DALPATRAM MEHTA

In Reply to Ashwin Mehta 3 months ago

Dear Mr. Ashwin Mehta,

Can you share the name of Insurance Co. in USA, with whom you were insured? Secondly, I am a senior citizen and would like to know if the existing diseases are covered in their policy?

Ashwin Mehta

In Reply to RAJENDRA DALPATRAM MEHTA 2 months ago

To
Rajendra D Mehta
I wrote a very detailed explanation to your query, but on pressing the submit button, entire message got deleted. I request you to contact me on +1-669-253-8620 or provide me your India Mobile number,so I can contact you. Thanks Ashwin Mehta

Sucheta Dalal

In Reply to Ashwin Mehta 2 months ago

As citizens concerned with privacy and spamming we would urge you not to disclose your mobile number online. Please say if you would like your comment deleted.

RAJENDRA DALPATRAM MEHTA

In Reply to Ashwin Mehta 2 months ago







Dear Ashwin Mehta,
If you want to talk to me, kindly let me know if you are available on Whats App and what is the Indian Standard Time suitable to you for conversation.

Dr D V PUNWANI

3 months ago

Please share link to such insurers.

REPLY

Veeresh Malik

In Reply to Dr D V PUNWANI 3 months ago

You may search for inward travel insurance for pretty much any country / region in the world. And they all have online chat to clear up any questions. Yes, a knowledge of using the internet is very helpful.

Dr D V PUNWANI

In Reply to Veeresh Malik 3 months ago

Many thanks

Ajit

3 months ago

Great information.Will look into it for details. Thanks for sharing.

Arun Nair

3 months ago

Thank you sir, for sharing such a valuable input.

Pranav Khanna

3 months ago

Do share online resource to study the foreign insurer offerings, thanks

REPLY

Veeresh Malik

In Reply to Pranav Khanna 3 months ago

Please search by "inward travel insurance" for any country or region.

Mihir A. Kulkarni

3 months ago

Awesome! Thank you for sharing.

REPLY

Shree Narendra

In Reply to Mihir A. Kulkarni 3 months ago

Thank you for updating on Mediclaim Insurance from Overseas Insurance companies. I was informed by our agent that Foreign Insurance companies who have tie-ups with Indian companies will not give cover from their overseas offices as per their JV.
Next question is about payment through credit card. Is it permitted as per RBI Regulations?

Ashwin Mehta

In Reply to Shree Narendra 2 months ago

Yes. You can pay your insurance premium in USD using your India issued Debit or Credit Card. Thanks Ashwin Mehta. I always buy AMERICAN insurance policy before starting from MUMBAI and pay with mainly net banking or some times with Debit or Credit Card also. No need to inform RBI.

Veeresh Malik

In Reply to Shree Narendra 3 months ago

I am not aware of any such ban and I would only presume that the agent is looking after her or his own interests. There are a huge number of choices and if one JV partner refuses there are dozens of others. Better to research by way of destinations.

Max Life Insurance further improves its individual death claims paid ratio to 98.26%
Max Life Insurance Co. Ltd, one of the leading life insurance companies in India, announced that the company has paid 10,152 individual death claims amounting to Rs353 crore, thus achieving claims paid ratio of 98.26% in FY 17-18. This is a further increase over FY 16-17, when the company paid 97.81% of the total individual death claims received. In FY 17-18, only 178 death claims were rejected and at the end of the financial year only two cases were pending for closure.
 
As per IRDAI annual report for FY2016-17 released in January 18, Max Life Insurance has superior individual death claims paid ratio during the said fiscal year, thus making it a company that has maintained a strong claims paid ratio consistently for the past four years i.e. from FY 14-15 to FY 17-18.
 
Talking about the achievement, Mr V Viswanand, Senior Director and COO, Max Life Insurance said, “In line with Max Life Insurance’s vision, mission and values we have aimed at our claims philosophy to be the “fairest, fastest and friendliest” as an important pillar of TCF – Treat Customer Fairly. Through a dedicated claims officer, we also provide guidance to help claimants through hassle-free claims process. In a country which has low protection penetration, high claims paid ratio provides the assurance to life insurance customers that their families will be safe in case of any eventuality and thus encourages them to opt for pure protection products”.
 
Over the years, Max Life Insurance has consistently improved its claims paid ratio without compromising on its efficient underwriting controls and robust fraud management. This has been made possible using both analytical and technology interventions. The company has introduced predictive analytical models, robust checks at the time of policy solicitation in high-risk geographies and geo-tag enabled field or video verifications of customers through its Risk Management Unit. 

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Slow-moving and Unresponsive IRDAI may allow Insurance Companies to Experiment with Innovative Products
Insurance companies will soon be able to launch innovative insurance products with the support of the regulator. Insurance industry regulator Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) is working on guidelines for regulatory sandbox for certain innovative products that can be tried out in a limited scale and can be rolled out thereafter as full-fledged products, its chairman, Mr S.C. Khuntia said at an ASSOCHAM event held in Mumbai today.
 
He suggested that insurance sector can tap modern technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain, machine learning and others for improving coverage, generating awareness, having innovative product designs and catering to the needs of consumers.
 
Mr Khuntia said “There are some new types of products which have not been tested out, suppose some companies want to experiment with innovative products then we can allow them through a regulatory sandbox method where in a limited scale, either for a limited geography or a limited number of policyholders it will be tried out, so we will allow them,”.
 
The IRDAI chief further informed that insurance regulator would also bring into place new methodology for quick product approval. “We are also looking at opportunities to have more use and file kind of products so there I need co-operation from all of you.”
 
Mr Khuntia also shared his views on further developing the micro-insurance sector “It is another area where we need to concentrate so that we go to remote, rural areas as this is something where our progress has been very-very unsatisfactory and insurance industry must look into this aspect.”
  
India’s life insurance sector is the biggest in the world but accounts for about 2% of the world’s total life insurance premium. There are 24 life insurance and 33 non-life insurance companies in the Indian market and the public sector still holds the bigger market-share in both categories of insurance products.
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