Before heading out to your favourite destination this holiday season, remember to pack in travel insurance too. But ensure you go through the terms and conditions of your policy thoroughly. Very often one tends to take a close look only at the premium and coverage part of the policy without understanding the fine print. 

Last week, the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum dismissed a complaint lodged by Mumbai-based petitioner Nagin Parekh against his insurer for denying his claim for treatment of injuries incurred during a hot air balloon crash in 2015, calling the ride a “hazardous activity". You can read the story here.

Insurance companies can deny claims in certain situations and an accident during adventure activities is one such instance. That’s why it becomes important to read the fine print as different companies may have different policies on exclusions. We tell the circumstances under which an insurance company can deny claims.

If you go for Adventure activities

Planning to go bunjee jumping at the Western Cape in South Africa? Or a fancy skydiving experience in New Zealand? Adventure seekers may want to get their heart pumping, but your insurer will not be amused. “Most insurers do not cover adventures activities including bungee jumping, paragliding, mountain climbing, racing, etc. Some other insurers cover it as an add-on cover for international travel," said Tarun Mathur, chief business officer-general insurance, Policybazaar.com.

If you are still looking for options, then you would have to pick a policy that mainly caters to adventure travel. Only a few companies, including Go Digit General Insurance Ltd cover adventure activities as a part of their basic policy but at a relatively higher premium. Most insurers don’t cover adventure travel if your itinerary includes high-risk activities which could put your life in danger.

Baggage loss within 24 hours

Among the many reasons why people purchase travel insurance, the fear of misplacing or losing one’s baggage tops the list, especially if you are travelling abroad. As a norm, most policies cover loss of baggage but there is a catch.

Though it depends on the cover you have and its features, most policies don’t process the claims unless your baggage is missing for more than 24 hours.

If you don’t get a direct flight and the next flight is scheduled on the same day, you may panic and file a claim within 24 hours but insurers give that much time to the airlines to trace the missing baggage. Your insurer will step in only if nothing is done by the airline in the first 24 hours.

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If your tour operator denies service

If you have booked your holiday through a travel agency and if the operator cancels the trip at the last moment, you cannot file a claim for the cancelled trip. The most trusted insurance companies within India or even outside the country would not cover this loss.

Always remember to get a confirmation from the tour operator in the form of an email receipt or a hardcopy so you can hold them accountable for the cancellation.

Having an email evidence will still not make your insurer dispense the money but you will at least be able to take legal action against the tour operator. 

If you initiate a loss

Travel insurance policies in India and abroad, even if they are from the most trusted companies, will not pay for the losses for which you can be held accountable. “Baggage loss and passport loss is built-in, but losses like theft or robbery are provided only as add-on covers," said Mathur. If you do file a claim for such a loss, the company will first evaluate if you were under the influence of alcohol or any drugs when the loss of baggage occurred. Also, if you are travelling by a flight and end up damaging the airline’s property, you cannot expect the insurer to process your claim.

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Other exclusions

Regular travel insurance policies will mostly not cover you for certain medical conditions such as diabetes, AIDS and high blood pressure. However, on searching widely, you may be able to find a suitable insurance by paying more to cover for these conditions. Insurance companies don’t accept separation cited as reason for cancelling a trip. Travel insurance policies will cover you only for unexpected logistical eventualities or death but not for emotional reasons such as divorce or break-ups.

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Remember to read the fine print that comes with your insurance policy and take necessary steps before you plan that trip. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

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