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Traveling abroad? Don't forget to get travel insurance

An international travel may not be as simple as packing clothes and voila. Securing a visa or a travel insurance plan and mapping out a detailed itinerary may sound cumbersome. But a wee-bit of planning and

research can certainly help insure your journey and make it memorable. After all, an adequate travel insurance policy along with your travel visa can prove to be your savior in an emergency.

GETTING VISA

The first stage of your research would essentially start with securing a visa.

A visa is a document certified by the destination country that allows you a stay for a particular period of time. And, depending upon the country of your visit, duration of stay and purpose, there may be various categories that you may want to consider before applying - for instance a business, medical, student, or tourist visa.

Many countries also release time-valid visas, such as a 90-day stay visa.

There are also countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan that demand a visa irrespective of the duration of stay. In most cases, the country that you are planning to visit would require details of travel insurance along with the travel visa. The destination country embassy website will be the best place to gather additional information on visa specifics.

THE INSURANCE PLAN:

Once you are past the stage of securing a visa, you will have to plan on getting a certified travel insurance plan. This plan essentially indicates that you have adequate coverage for expenses that you might incur in case of emergency hospitalization or repatriation for medical reasons.

Repatriation would involve the cost of travel back to one own country. The insurance plans and repatriation costs are country specific, similar to the visa-application process.

For instance, repatriation is a must for travel to Schengen. But, a visa alone may be sufficient in case the business or tourist visa travel to the Schengen is below 90 days. Thebest travel insurance policy covers medical expenses.

The ideal insurance plan will essentially have the right coverage to manage medical emergencies. In many cases, staking money in quality travel insurance will fulfill the requirements for your visa; so before you buy additional travel insurance, you must find out if the policy you already have does not alleviate or cover the cost for a medical emergency.

GETTING THE COVERAGE RIGHT:

In most cases, your insurance agent would be the adviser to suggest whether your coverage is adequate. It is always a good practice to seek professional advice and clarify doubts than end up with assumptions before departing on that trip.

You must also verify the limitations and restrictions of your policy to ensure it covers everything that you would need for a safe travel. This could also include coverage for the extreme adventure sports like parasailing or downhill skiing.

The travel insurance, besides protecting travelers from pricey emergency medical expenses, can also cover repatriation of the remains, overseas funeral expenditure, trip interruption, emergency evacuation, lost, damaged or stolen luggage and trip cancellation.

CHOOSING THE INSURER

Besides coverage, another demand could be the authenticity of your insurer. Ensure that your insurer has a valid license and is accepted in the country you plan to travel to. A few countries also mandate that insurance be procured from agents within their country. You may seek advice from the local insurance company, in case you are not sure about the insurance corporation in a foreign land.

Travel insurance is mandatory for a lot of visas as a means to safeguard their visitors from unanticipated

pricey expenditures, which would make up for an otherwise distasteful visit. You can submit an application for most of the visas from the embassy of the country you wish to visit or directly apply online. As with the travel insurance, you must begin your research for a visa early in your process of trip planning, and always ensure that you have all the necessary documents to fulfill the requirements for travel visa in order to stay away from any redundant surprises that could disturb your expedition.

WHY THIS FUSS?

A lot of countries across the world have started executing changes to avoid foreign travelers from taking benefit of their healthcare system. In several cases, travelers would leave without paying their medical bills.

Many countries have also brought in the insurance angle to stop travelers from benefitting from their free health protection and wellness programs.

An immediate case is that of the Thailand government that has recently noticed the financial burden faced by state hospitals for offering free medical services to foreigners. Although the Thai government has started conversations, there has not yet been an official decision yet.

A RISING TREND:

Although the number of nations that require travel insurance is finite, this could be the beginning of a trend.

Schengen countries, Dubai, Cuba and Russia are among the countries that insist on visitors buying travel health insurance. There is a silver lining for travelers though. In many cases, insurance can be procured even during arrival or departure to homeland.

To seek travel insurance or not to is a question that countries are also debating. Seeking tourist dollars may be advantageous, but certainly not to the point of losing a potential traveler owing to elevated insurance costs. Even if travel insurance is not a pre-requisite to enter a country, having adequate coverage is always a great idea while travelling abroad.

BONUS FOR TRAVELERS

Besides being a savior, your travel insurance can also provide supplementary benefits. Let's assume there is a need for immediate evacuation, and your embassy is short-staffed to handle emergency travel. The travel emergency aid services with your insurance plan in this case can offer necessary support including helping you find the means to leave the nation. Insurance can also help in immediate evacuation during medical emergencies when a host country does not have adequate medical facilities.

Travel insurance can come in handy in cases where a country cannot repatriate traveler's body back to their nation too. Also, in cases involving the death of loved ones, travelers can avoid the hassles of a time-consuming processes and other expenses.

Travelling abroad should ideally be a pleasant experience, but it can turn out to be a nightmare if you fail to ensure your safety. So plan your trip accordingly. Bon Voyage!