Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mediclaim policy for travellers (foreign)



Travelling abroad? Pack an Overseas Mediclaim policy

Overseas Mediclaim is, in any case, mandatory if you’re travelling to the United States, Europe and a few other countries. But even where it isn’t required by law, it makes sound sense to pack this low-cost, high-value medical cover–along with your beach-bum outfit and your holiday attitude. "Your domestic Mediclaim policy does not cover your hospitalisation abroad."

Medicare, and more. Up until a year ago, you could buy Overseas Mediclaim policies only from the four public sector general insurance players. Since then, three non-life private insurers–Royal Sundaram, Bajaj-Allianz and Tata-AIG–have begun to offer value-added "travel insurance" packages: in addition to offering Mediclaim facilities, these cover other travel-related risks– loss of luggage or air-tickets or passport, flight delays and even hijacks. The premium you pay depends on your age, number of days of proposed travel and the countries to which you plan to travel. You have to pay a markedly higher premium for travel to the US and Canada.

The plain-vanilla Overseas Mediclaim Policy covers your hospitalisation and medical expenses up to the sum insured for 45 days; it also provides cover against in-flight accidental death and for loss of passport.

Typically, a 30-year-old would pay Rs 1,630 as premium for medical cover up to $50,000 for 45-day travel that takes in the US and Canada. Private players offer their value-added "travel insurance" packages for about the same premium (see table: Travel Companions).

TRAVEL COMPANIONS

Premium (Rs)*

Sum insured ($)

Overseas
Mediclaim

Travel Guard
(Tata-AIG)

Travel

Care
(Bajaj-Allianz)

TravelShield
(Royal Sundaram)

50,000

1,630

1,638

1,638

1,653

200,000

**

1,911

1,863

2,178

* For a 30-year-old for 45-day travel (including US and Canada); includes 5% service tax
** Available on a case-to-case basis

How it works. This is why it pays to look beyond the premium rates when you’re planning to buy the Overseas Mediclaim policy or the travel insurance packages. Where the public sector insurers’ policy scores is in the fact that it comes with an international toll-free helpline (+44 (0) 1273 749222) you can dial from anywhere in the world when you need hospitalisation or medical attention. If you seek admission in one of the accredited hospital (you can get a list of such hospitals from the insurers), you can walk away without paying a dime.

If you’re admitted to other hospitals, you might need to pay up front and make a claim to the insurer along with the required paperwork (a filled-up claims form, prescriptions and medical records and cash receipts). Private players, on the other hand, offer country-specific phone numbers–so you’ll have to declare your itinerary before you leave and collect the appropriate contact numbers.

Know your deductible. Remember, however, that only claims in excess of a specified amount (called a "deductible") will be settled. Ajay Srivastava learnt this the hard way when his claim for $100 towards expenses incurred on securing medical attention for his son Ritvik while on a tour of Germany was rejected because his policy came with a $100 deductible. "All I got was a card wishing me good health for the rest of my travel period!" he recalls wryly.

Also, the fine print on private insurers’ packages have certain exclusions: they don’t cover you for medical expenses arising from motor accidents. The public sector insurers, however, make no such exclusion. But if you plan to drive abroad, make sure you carry a valid international driving licence, without which any attendant claims may be rejected.

Additionally, none of the private insurers lets you extend your insurance cover once your tour has begun. Public sector insurers, on the other hand, allow you to extend your Overseas Mediclaim Policy for up to 180 days–even after the tour has begun.

Overseas Mediclaim policies can, additionally, be bought only up to age 70. So, what does a person do when he’s required to stay on longer than six months or does not otherwise qualify for Overseas Mediclaim policies? Rakesh Vashishta, 40, who works for a tech firm in the US, found himself looking for just such an answer when his 70-year-old father planned to visit him for a year. Even though his father had a clean medical history, Vashishta couldn’t buy him an Overseas Mediclaim policy. Since he could scarcely have afforded not to buy any insurance, he trawled the Net for insurance quotes. "The US insurance market is much more mature than in India, and I could buy my father a medicare policy right here in New Jersey," says Vashishta. "For anyone who plans to stay longer than six months in the US, I’d recommend only this: buy local insurance!" he says. "You get far more customised insurance products, at competitive rates."

Source: Outlook Money - 2009

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