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Covid-19: Insurers offer relief to travel insurance policyholders

Bavadharini KS | Updated on April 02, 2020 Published on April 02, 2020

Travel policies issued by insurers such as Bajaj Allianz General and ICICI Lombard can be extended up to 180 days by paying an additional premium

With continued rise in coronavirus infections worldwide, your planned vacation abroad may have come to a screeching halt. While airlines offer the option of rescheduling your flight tickets, travel insurers also allow you to reschedule your policy as per your travel dates. According to a recent circular by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI), the insurance regulator in the country, those travel insurance policies which are valid between March 22 and April 30, 2020, can have the option to defer the date of travel without any additional charge. Further, some of the insurers also allow you to cancel your travel policy, waiving policy cancellation charges.

Relaxation offered

Travel policies from insurers including ICICI Lombard, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance, HDFC Ergo and SBI General, as per IRDAI’s circular, offer to reschedule the policy free of charge. That is, those policyholders who are postponing their trips can reschedule their travel insurance policies to match the travel timelines. You can communicate the same to the insurer via digital platforms ― email, WhatsApp or by using Chatbot services or through your agents.

Further, if you (policyholder) wish to cancel your travel insurance (due to cancellation of your trip), insurers such as ICICI Lombard and Bajaj Allianz General Insurance offer to refund your premium, and cancel your policy free of cost. For instance, travel policies of ICICI Lombard charge ₹300 as cancellation charges. Similarly, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance charges a minimum of ₹224 (excluding taxes) towards cancellation of policy. This fee has been waived due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, some insurers may charge policyholders for cancelling their travel policy. Ashutosh Shrotriya, Head, Products & Business Process, Religare Health Insurance, says, “IRDAI’s circular mentions only deferment of travel policy without any additional charges. Besides this, other policy changes will have to be serviced as per terms and conditions of the policy.”

Travel extension

If you are a student or tourist who had travelled abroad before the coronavirus outbreak and had to stay abroad due to the travel restrictions, you can extend your policies. This feature, which is available in all travel insurance policies, can come in handy for those people who are stuck and unable to travel home. But keep in mind that your policy can only be extended before the expiry of your existing policy.

Travel policies issued by insurers such as Bajaj Allianz General and ICICI Lombard can be extended up to 180 days by paying an additional premium. But Religare Health Insurance travel policy (Explore) provides an option to extend the policy for 365 days.

Gurdeep Singh Batra, Head, Retail Underwriting, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance, says, “Bajaj Allianz General Insurance is providing extensions to travel policies, if someone has already travelled and is unable to travel back due to the current situation. However, travel policies will exclude Covid-19 cover in view of declared advisory by government agencies and in line with policy terms and conditions.”

But some insurers do offer cover for Covid-19 through travel policy, provided you are hospitalised for a minimum period. For instance, ICICI Lombard’s travel policy, hospitalisation expenses (both in-patient and out-patient) will be payable in case the insured is hospitalised (for a minimum period of three days) in the destination country due to Covid-19. Similarly, Religare Health Insurance’s travel policy also provides cover for all emergency medical/hospitalisation expenses.

Trip cancellation

If your flight is cancelled or your trip is delayed (due to flight operators) you can claim with your insurer on the same. Most of the travel policies in the industry provide comprehensive coverages for key medical and non-medical expenses (including baggage delay and baggage lost, flight delay, flight cancellation and trip curtailment).

Consider the case of trip cancellation. Insurers will pay for this cover, provided it is cancelled due to earthquake or other natural disasters, terrorism and personal contingencies including death or hospitalisation of immediate family member. For instance, claims from travel policies of ICICI Lombard will be payable for financial loss incurred by the policyholder if the trip is cancelled or interrupted due to death/hospitalisation of the insured’s immediate family member (including medical emergencies related to Covid-19).

Published on April 02, 2020

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