Will you have to pay more to extend travel cover?
Those who had travelled abroad (be it on holiday or for business meetings) are now stuck where they are since the lockdown started on March 25. One can approach the airlines and hotels for rescheduling stay and travel dates, but what about travel insurance? Can its tenure be extended? If yes, how much will it cost?
Can foreign travel insurance be extended?
To extend your foreign travel insurance while you are abroad, you need to have a valid travel insurance policy, that is, the policy should have been bought before the commencement of the journey. You cannot buy a new travel insurance policy while you are board.
This is because the cover starts at the immigration counter of the home country and continues until the immigration is completed after returning to the home country. Travel insurance policy brought after the commencement of the journey is not considered valid. You can extend the period of your valid travel insurance in case of an emergency while you are in a foreign country.
Will you have to pay an additional premium to extend your travel insurance?
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) stated that in case insurers have issued travel insurance policies which were or are valid between March 22, 2020 and April 30, 2020, an option may be provided to policyholders to defer the date of travel without any additional charge.
Naval Goel, CEO & Founder, PolicyX.com said that travel policy from insurance companies such as ICICI Lombard General Insurance, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance, HDFC Ergo General Insurance and SBI General, as per IRDAI’s circular, are offering to reschedule policies free of charge. “Further, a few of the insurance companies also allow you to cancel the travel insurance policy, waiving policy cancellation charges. However, some insurers may charge policyholders for cancelling their travel policy as IRDAI’s circular mentions only the deferment of travel policy without any additional charges,” Goel added.
What happens after April 30? Can you extend it further?
“Beyond April 30, 2020, if you wish to extend your stay further, you might have to pay an additional premium until IRDAI notifies. You also need to keep in mind that the policy can only be extended before the expiry of the existing policy,” said Goel.
You must ideally inform the insurer 7-10 days before the policy expires.
Tarun Mathur, Chief Business Officer, Policybazaar.com said, “If your travel policy has an automatic extension in case of pandemic or flight cancellation, then you just have to write to your insurance provider and they will give an extension for however many days – your plan allows. This feature does not require you to pay any additional premium for an extension.”
Do keep in mind that even if you don’t have an automatic extension feature in your policy, you will still have to write to your insurance company – before your existing policy expires – and request them for an extension. However, Mathur said, “If you don’t have an automatic extension feature, at its discretion, the insurance company can approve the extension and you will have to pay an additional premium.”
A policyholder can extend any of their travel insurance covers, however, this will depend on the insurance company. Rakesh Goyal – Director, Probus Insurance an Insurtech Broking company says, “Currently, no country-specific restriction has been imposed for travel policy claims by several insurance companies.”
How long can you extend it for?
During an emergency trip extension, several insurers provide an extension for 10-15 days. Some insurers extend it up to 180 days, said Goyal.
Goyal added, “Several insurers say that claims will be payable for food and lodging expenses in case the trip is delayed abroad due to cancellation or rescheduling of flights done at the instance of the common carrier due to novel Coronavirus. Having said that claims will be payable for the financial loss incurred by the insured if the scheduled trip is cancelled or interrupted due to hospitalization (three days mandatory hospitalisation) of the insured due to Covid-19.”
How to connect with the insurer for extension
Policyholders need to contact the insurers either through email or helpline number and inform them about reasons for extensions.
Goel said that policyholders who are postponing their trips can reschedule their travel insurance policies to match the travel timelines. “You can communicate the same to the insurance companies via digital platforms – email, WhatsApp, by using Chatbot services or through your agents. You can also call on the toll-free number to get the required assistance,” Goel said.
Once the premium is paid online on the respective insurer’s portal (if required as per the policy term and condition), a policy copy with the extended date is issued and emailed to the policyholder. This email serves as proof of extended insurance for all purposes.