Overseas medical insurance is much more than a hospitalisation policy
It is summer, and foreign holiday time! What if you have to go to hospital while abroad? Your hospitalisation policy covers treatment only within India.
Enter a specialised, short-term policy for hospitalisation outside India. Brand-named Overseas Mediclaim Policy by the public sector general insurance companies or Overseas Travel Insurance, International Travel Insurance and various other names by other companies, it has a cashless medical facility for claims administered through third party administrators operating in the destination countries.
But it is more than a hospitalisation policy. It bundles several covers including against loss of baggage/ passport, flight delays and trip cancellations, emergency medical evacuation, emergency cash advance, personal accident cover, funds for repatriation of remains, personal liability, hijack distress and even a burglary at your home during the trip! Different companies offer varying combinations of options in their packages.
The policy is available for a wide age range with medical screening required beyond a certain age or under certain conditions and premiums increase in case of adverse medical history.
A key feature of the policy is that it covers you from the time you leave India until you step back in, and the premium rates are tailored to these time-frames. The rates differ significantly if the U.S. is or is not part of your travel plans. Sometimes a policy is a visa condition. For example the Schengen visa requires you to have a minimum cover of $50,000 in all its member States.
You can buy a policy for a single trip of one week at the minimum to 180 days at the maximum and even 365 days from some select companies. Annual policies covering multiple trips of 30 days to 90 days per trip and longer are also available.
A 35-year old male travelling to the U.S. for 30 days pays anything between ₹1,700 to ₹4,000 for a $1,00,000 sum insured (SI) policy. If the U.S. is not part of this travel, the premium ranges between ₹1,300 and ₹3,000.
Cover for several trips
If you are taking an annual cover for several trips (including to the U.S.) of maximum 30 days per trip, the premium is about ₹3,500. The same cover without the U.S. would cost about ₹2,000.
Please note that this SI is across all its sections, medical coverage and all the rest and so, only part of it is your medical expenses cover. Read the fine print!
Most terms and exclusions are similar to a domestic hospitalisation policy.
The usual exclusions apart, if you are travelling abroad for medical treatment you are not eligible for this policy. Some companies and policies cover accident-related dental expenses, out-patient treatment and even compassionate visits to and fro during your hospitalisation.
Religare Health Insurance Company Limited, for example, offers a cover for pre-existing conditions in case of life-threatening conditions.
Look for sub-limits on room-rent and other expenses and also check for co-pay or deductible clauses. Waivers on all these are also available on some policies as optional extras.
An interesting tip: When you are travelling abroad, your domestic hospitalisation insurance is a waste.
But, if you take both policies from the same company, your domestic policy will be suspended for that period and its expiry/ renewal date extended appropriately!
(The writer is a business journalist specialising in insurance and corporate history)
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