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“Why You Should Always Purchase US-based Visitors Insurance When Traveling to the USA” By Rajeev Shrivastava, CEO and Founder, VisitorsCoverage
The number of Indians traveling to the United States is expected to hit 1.19 million this year and grow to an estimated 1.41 million by 2022. Many of you reading this may have heard stories of family and friends who have traveled to America without visitors insurance and ended up with huge medical bills, or worse, financial insolvency. America does not have a universal medical system and it is well-known that it has some of the highest medical costs in the world. Traveling for business or personal reasons without adequate visitors travel insurance is a risk not worth taking for yourself and your family.
 
How do I know if I need visitors insurance? 
 
Visitors insurance is always recommended for international travel, but especially for travel to the United States. While the US does not require travel medical insurance for entry, many other countries do. Some countries and regions, like Cuba and the Schengen region of Europe, require certain citizens to have a visitors insurance policy to gain entry. In the Schengen countries, at least 30,000€ of medical travel insurance coverage is required to obtain the Schengen visa. While this may be adequate coverage for a minor illness or injury in the EU, it would be woefully inadequate for any hospital visit or stay in the United States. 
 
When traveling to the United States, you always want to purchase your travel insurance from a US-based travel insurance provider so that you can have numerous policy options and pricing to choose from. 
 
Don’t think that you will be a “lucky” traveler and be safe from having a medical mishap 
 
Travelers have been known to injure themselves while traveling to the airport or while at the airport waiting for their flight. Injuries have occurred while disembarking from tour buses or cruise ships, but most injuries that happen abroad are no different than injuries or illnesses that could happen at home – but you won’t be at home, and if in the United States you would be looking at a minimum of 105,000 INR (1,500 USD) just to be admitted to an emergency room. 
 
What kind of travel insurance coverage do I need to have when traveling to America? 
 
The most important travel coverage you will need when traveling to the United States is medical coverage. It is recommended to have up to $2 million USD in coverage when traveling to the United States. If you can afford more, purchase more—it is not uncommon to accrue $2 million USD if a serious illness or injury requires hospitalization and surgery in the US. 
 
Travelers need to think about flight cancellations, emergency evacuation for both medical and global incidents such as California earthquakes, Florida hurricanes and Midwest tornadoes when visiting the United States. 
 
In addition to medical mishaps, foreign visitors could potentially be denied border entry, have their luggage or passports lost or stolen and need to consider being covered for emergency evacuation and emergency reunion with a family member in the US if they fall seriously ill or seriously injured. Repatriation back to your home country in the case of serious injury or illness or repatriation of your remains is sobering, but a necessary coverage option to consider, as is “Cancel for Any Reason” coverage which is the only coverage that will repay a portion of your prepaid expenses due to civil unrest.
 
How does trip insurance differ from travel insurance?
 
“Travel insurance” is often used interchangeably with “trip insurance” which is protection for a travelers’ financial investment made for a trip. Travel medical insurance provides different benefits than trip or travel insurance. Trip insurance generally does not provide medical coverage, but rather coverage for trip-related mishaps, such as flight and trip cancelations or interruptions. All airlines offer trip insurance to their customers before paying for their flight, typically with only one provider offered, and many travelers will click this option, not realizing that there are many more options for purchasing trip insurance with more comprehensive coverage. 
 
Trip insurance would cover the aforementioned scenarios including loss of passports and luggage, border entry denial and Cancel for Any Reason coverage, which allows cancellation of your travel up to two days prior to departure due to family illness or death, work reasons, a natural disaster or civil unrest in the city you are planning to visit. Cancel for Any Reason coverage allows you to recoup up to 75 percent of prepaid expenses should you cancel your travel plans. 
 
Benefits of purchasing a US-based visitors travel insurance policy:
 
  • While policies purchased in India are typically less expensive than US-based policies, this is usually because the coverage limits are lower and you may not have coverage for cancellation of your trip should there be an emergency such as family death or illness. 
     
  • Your medical coverage protection will be more comprehensive because they are based in the US and can negotiate fees directly with the providers without any middlemen.
     
  • Your options range from less expensive policies that have a range of deductibles to purchasing comprehensive plans within preferred provider networks (PPOs) where you may only have to pay a reasonable co-pay or pay nothing at all should you or a family member require medical treatment. 
     
  • If you need immediate assistance you may not be able to reach the Indian company due to different time zones, secondly, you will have to pay all medical or trip cancellation costs up front and file for reimbursement when you return home, which could take months.
 
Purchasing a travel insurance policy in India may seem like a good deal as your vacation costs add up, but this is one expense you can’t afford to “go cheap” with. 
 
Rajeev Shrivastava, is CEO of VisitorsCoverage Inc., an InsurTech company operating in the travel insurance space with a mission to simplify travel insurance for travelers. 
 
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    COMMENTS

    SURESH NAIR

    6 months ago

    The author has not given any concrete proof that the policies bought in US are way better than policies sold in India. This piece is full of insinuations and also highly misleading! Policies in India come with sum assured as high as 10 lakhs US Dollars. It is quite comprehensive and covers passport land luggage loss, flight cancellations, emergency evacuations, repatriation, family member reunion in case of emergencies etc . All the points mentioned by the author. Also to state that upfront payment is needed for policies taken in India is outright false! And another false point he makes when he states that due to different time zones you won’t be able to contact the Indian company! Customer care works 24 hours and also you can contact the service provider in US with whom the insurance company has entered into a tie up!

    Policybazaar fined Rs 10 lakh for concealing facts
    The Delhi High Court has slapped a Rs 10 lakh fine on Policybazaar, an online platform that aggregates insurance plans and serves as a marketplace for policies, for concealing facts to obtain a favourable order in a trademark infringement case filed by it against an insurance company.
     
    "The stature of a party or enormity of the claim should not be a constraint for the court to advance the cause of justice. Courts should not allow a party to get away with concealment of material facts when it comes to matters relating to grant of relief that are founded on principles of equity," Justice Sanjeev Narula said in a May 28 order while imposing fine.
     
    The court asked the firm to deposit Rs 5 lakh with the Prime Ministers Relief Fund and other Rs 5 lakh with Delhi Legal-Aid Services Authority. 
     
    On May 16, the court had restrained Acko General Insurance from using the trademark 'policy bazaar' in any manner or form or combination or as an adword/key word programme through Google.
     
    Later, Acko approached the court saying the Policybazaar had concealed and distorted material facts, made misrepresentations and false statements before this court to obtain the ex-parte ad-interim injunction order. 
     
    Acko told the court the Policybazaar had clandestinely approached this court alleging infringement on the part of Acko for making reference to 'POLICYBAZAAR' as a keyword when policybazaar themselves were making reference to Acko and its group company's registered trade mark 'ACKO' as a keyword.
     
    The Policybazaar admitted to doing so, but told the court it had stopped that since April 23.
     
    "I have no hesitation to say the concealment has been deliberate in this case. Plaintiffs (Policybazaar) could have easily mentioned the true and correct facts before the court. Plaintiffs ought to have candidly disclosed all material facts which have a bearing on the issues of the present case," the court said.
     
    Moreover, the Policybazaar owed a duty to the court and concealment of facts amounted to making an attempt to pollute the pure stream of justice, the court said adding the judiciary had repeatedly instructed that a party who didn't disclose all material facts wont have a right to be heard. 
     
    "Plaintiffs themselves for nearly one year were bidding for defendant's trademark 'ACKO' and were therefore acting in an unfair manner. This critical factor would have certainly weighed upon the court while granting ex-parte ad-interim injunction," the court said. 
     
    The court said by concealment of this material fact, the Policybazaar had taken unfair advantage over the Acko and directed that the May 16 order of injunction should remain suspended till July 11, the next date of hearing.
     
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
     
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    Tata AIG Rejects Claim due to delay in Intimation; Consumer Court Overrules
    Santosh Umakant Jawadkar had purchased an Accident Guard Policy from Tata AIG, with tenure from 27 February 2004 to 26 February 2005. The policy premium was Rs 17,110 and it covered him, his wife and their daughter to the extent of sum assured of Rs 1 crore, Rs 50 lakhs and Rs 10 lakhs respectively.
     
    On 2 February 2005, Jawadkar went to drop his daughter to her maternal aunt’s home. His wife Kalpana, being eight months pregnant was at home. On returning home, he found out smoke coming from his kitchen flat window. Since Kalpana did not open the door, he called the police and fire brigade.
     
    On breaking the door open, Kalpana was found dead on the kitchen floor with grievous burn injuries. The police treated the incident to be a case of accidental death. However, a complaint was lodged by Kalpana’s brother, after which a criminal case was registered against Jawadkar. As a consequence, Jawadkar was immediately arrested but was released on bail month later.
     
    Jawadkar approached Tata AIG to process the claim but could not follow through the process as he was defending the criminal case simultaneously. The Session Court at Nanded declared Jawadkar innocent and he was acquitted of all charges. The incident was declared to be a case of accidental death. 
     
    Jawadkar approached the insurer but was rejected the claim on the grounds of late intimation and submission of documents. The insurance company also alleged that his wife’s death was a suicide and not an accident.
     
    He filed a complaint at Maharashtra State Commission. The insurer held that the delay in intimation of seven months was the reason for the rejection of claim. The insurer believed that the court had observed 100% burns, which could have been a sign of suicide.
     
    The State Commission held that there was no adequate evidence with the insurer to prove that Kalpana had committed suicide. It also added that the reasons for the delay in intimation were genuine and valid. Tata AIG dragged Jawadekar to the National Commission. NC in its order dated 22 May 2019, delivered ruled that the reasons for delay in intimation were justified. It also brought to light a circular issued by IRDAI directing insurers to admit and pay claims when the delay in intimation is caused by legitimate reasons.
     
    As per the State Commission’s decision, the insurer is now liable to pay Rs 55 lakh for Kalpana’s death and Rs5 lakh towards educational expenses of her daughter. If the insurer failed to pay the amount within 60 days, an interest of 6% would be chargeable.
     
    Also, National Commission on consideration of Jawadkar’s appeal has directed insurer to pay interest for repudiation of claim from date of repudiation along with litigation cost of Rs 25,000. On failure to make the above payments with a span of four weeks, an interest of 9% shall be chargeable.
     
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