Do insurance companies need to hone their products to meet the changing traveller demand for a better insurance cover? Travel agents say yes, along with better product knowledge for more clarity.
After a year of pandemic-related challenges, travel insurance has become a topic of conversation in the travel community, as travel agents search for the best way to protect their clients. But, what is available in the market, especially now with vaccination in the picture? It is still possible for clients to contract COVID-19 if they haven’t been vaccinated and it’s still possible for them to have to quarantine for 14 days if they test positive in a foreign country. Have insurance policies adapted to this need by offering medical evacuation or coverage for the 14-day quarantine? Insurance companies need to ensure that travel agents receive regular training on different products. Even with training, the ever-changing nature of the insurance industry’s response to the pandemic has complicated the process of choosing the right policy. Here’s what some agents and service providers have to say.
Quarantine expense not covered?
Pradip Lulla, CMD, Cupid Travels
I am advising my clients to take a separate insurance for COVID before travelling overseas. In my opinion, the regular travel insurance does not cover COVID; you need to take a separate one that does. There are some insurance companies that offer COVID cover within India. For instance, Edelweiss offers group insurance that covers COVID which is a top-up. Alternatively, you can buy a local COVID insurance in the country you land in. The best is to buy both – one from India and the other local to ensure complete cover.
Anshu Tejuja, MD, Ashoka Dream Holidays
Right now we are mainly selling Maldives and Dubai, and if we take travel insurance for these two countries, it doesn’t cover quarantine if someone tests positive in these two countries. But it covers hospitalisation. I don’t know any Indian companies that sell travel insurance that offers any special COVID cover to travellers. But, an international company called Allied does offer that travellers can buy online in USD for Maldives. However, there are cases where clients have complained about discrepancies.
Mehernosh Colombowalla, Director, Beyond Borders Travel Management Company
There are some insurance companies that are offering a cover for COVID-19 such as TATA AIG. However, the cover is for hospitalisation only if clients are tested positive. It does not include hotel or house quarantine and COVID-19 test costs. My advice to clients is to always get themselves tested for COVID-19 before they travel overseas, and always take overseas insurance when they travel. The cost of insurance is negligible and well worth an investment to avoid any possible expense during your vacation.
Parag Ved, Executive VP, Consumer Lines, TATA AIG General Insurance
Currently, all our overseas travel policies cover medical expenses due to COVID-19 if contracted during trip duration. The medical expenses incurred during quarantine period are also covered. We offer coverage for medical expenses related to COVID-19 when the insured is outside India, at no additional cost. We offer insurance for five traveller segments – leisure (international), business (international), students, domestic and senior citizens.
Dev Karvat, Founder & CEO, Asego
We have launched a unique combo product that covers the travellers’ COVID-19 related expenses as well. It includes hospitalisation, hotel quarantine, cancellations along with other new-age travel protection benefits such as roadside assistance, emergency medical and accidental expenses which not only provides immediate relief in case of travel emergencies but also boosts traveller confidence. Considering the travel bans, this product is being offered only to domestic travellers. We are planning to start a similar product for international travellers.