Business or pleasure is a question asked at the immigration counter. But the right time to ask the question is when one is choosing travel insurance to cover the trip; business, pleasure, or student. Based on the needs, travel insurance is offered as single trip, multi-trip or student travel plans. The difference in sum insured, focus areas of each plan and period of coverage can make the insurance highly suitable to each of the itineraries.

The basic differences relate to coverage duration with a few other minor differences. A single-trip plan covers one trip with pre-defined length of trip and destination, bought at the time of insurance. A multi-trip plan secures multiple trips in a year to one or several destinations by declaring a possible length for each trip. A student plan allows one to pick a length of trip ranging from 30 days to two years as per the length of the course. Here, we classify the risk covers of the three forms into medical and non-medical risk covers and evaluate the differences between them.

Medical and allied covers

A single trip and student plan insurance provide covers ranging from $100,000 to $500,000, while multi-trip plans start coverage from $250,000 sum insured. In all plans only unplanned medical emergencies and medical evacuation will be covered up to the sum insured after meeting a deductible of  $50-100. A personal accident sub-limit ranging from 10,000 to $25,000 is also included in most policies in single-trip plans, but is a ‘hit and a miss’ on the other two.

A multi-trip plan may offer daily cash allowance or a financial allowance in case of emergency hospitalisation, but may not be offered in other two plans (student and single-trip). Compassionate visit by a relative in case of medical admission is covered based on the insurer, rather than the plan. Reliance Insurance, for instance, offers the same across the three.

The policy costs ₹1,700-₹3,000 for a single-trip policy ( $100,000 cover) and ₹4,000-₹4,500 for a multi trip policy ($250,000 cover). The multi-trip cover should last for multiple trips through the year. Similarly, a two-year student policy would cost ₹25,000-₹30,000 for the two years with a cover of $250,000 for the period.

Non-medical covers

A student plan essentially centres on medical cover and a few other non-medical covers while single and multi-trip plans offer incrementally more options, apart from medical covers. Trip cancellation, delay and missed connection are well covered in multi-trip plans with USD $300-$1,000 cover. In single-trip plans, higher-cost covers provide similarly, while lower-cost plans offer plans with a cover of USD $200-$600 for the same (missed connection and trip cancellation). Student plans may not provide this feature. These cover any reimbursable cost due to cancellation or delays and compensate for charges in case of a missed connection. With higher relevance to a flight-hopping business traveller, multi-trip plans allocate a higher cover for these risks.

Baggage loss is covered in all three segments ranging between $250 and $1,000 with higher outlay for expensive plans. Similarly, passport loss is also covered in all three segments, but with the lower allocation for student plans who get the short end of the stick. Personal liability risks are covered up to sum insured in all three plans. Except student plans, home burglary risk is covered up to ₹1.5-2 lakh in both the plans. A student plan may also include study interruption risk cover of $7,500-$10,000, for when the course of study is interrupted by emergency situation and the tuition fees need to be indemnified.

Points to note

The common thread in any of the three plans is to go through the policy document and identify the right cover for the right risks.

Third-party administrators or TPAs can be a critical link in securing services even after insurance has been bought. Travel policyholders should know the TPA contact details, especially multi-trip policyholders, before starting a trip. From the list of network hospitals in the destination or even the travel mandates applicable to each zone, TPAs may be helpful apart from the claim processing part, if any.

The policyholders must mandatorily disclose any pre-existing diseases for smooth claim processing even if PEDs may not be fully covered. Care Health, for instance, allows a sub-limit cover of 10 per cent of sum insured arising from PEDs. Even otherwise, the risks from not disclosing PEDs which may be discovered later will lead to claim rejection. Within policies as well, depending on the risk, activity or nature of the destination, policy focussing on trip curtailment, medical related or baggage-related covers can be shopped for.