Explore why, when it comes to international travel, strapping on your travel insurance helmet is as important as strapping into your airplane seat
Before we get into this travel insurance article, let’s take our minds back to March 1, 2003, the memorable day when ISI-approved helmets became compulsory for motorcycle riders in India and not wearing them became a punishable offence.
Motorcycle riders reacted angrily to this rule, traffic policemen’s ears were filled with hundreds of excuses (while their pockets filled with “fine” amounts), and after several weeks bikers finally accepted that this rule was not going to be withdrawn by the Government.
After a few months (and crores earned in bribes!), police authorities in major cities realized that this new rule had been accepted by the society and they stopped enforcing it with the same energy as they had in March 2003. But they made a crucial error in enforcing this rule.
Research and statistical figures available at the time showed that the rate of people dying from head injuries in motorcycle accidents would be reduced by 50% if there were strict motorcycle helmet laws in place. But that was only if the right type of helmets were used. This was why the law-makers had made ISI-approved helmets compulsory, and not just any type of helmets.
However, due to the large number of motorcycle riders on the roads, the shortage of time, and the sheer laziness of traffic police, this vital quality check was not always done. Therefore, even today, you will find riders using helmets just for the sake of it. These low-quality helmets have neither padding inside (to soften the blow in case of an accident) and nor the crucial straps (which make sure the helmet doesn’t fly away from the victim’s head during impact in an accident).
When it comes to Indians and international travel insurance, the scenario is very similar to the careless use of helmets in our country.
Just like the law-makers who had the right intentions in mind, we have certain countries that have made travel insurance compulsory for tourists entering their borders. Just like policemen who are only interested in their own profits, we have dishonest agents/companies that aggressively sell ineffective travel insurance. Just like low-quality helmets, we have insurance schemes that barely satisfy the requirements but are hollow and useless in cases of actual difficulty. And finally, we have international travellers who choose the cheapest travel insurance that they can find because they believe that they would never, ever have any difficulties while abroad anyways.
The right travel insurance covers you in situations like a lost or stolen passport, lost or stolen baggage, delayed or missed connecting flights, and even foreign hospitalization. Trust us when we say that foreign hospitalizationcan actually totally wipe out your bank balance back home. Healthcare costs, especially in first-world countries, are so high that people who live there prefer to travel to South East Asia for medical treatments. In fact, in India itself, Medical Tourism is a $5.5bn industry as of FY2017 (worldwide: $45bn). This clearly points out to the extremely high healthcare costs abroad. For example, basic blood work in the US costs more than $1,200. Ask yourself, can you afford a Rs 80,000 blood test while on a tight-budget tour or vacation?
As mentioned earlier, travel insurance covers you and your family against situations beyond your control, like theft, a vehicular accident, or delayed connecting flights that will ruin your entire schedule in a matter of hours due to the cascading effect. So it makes sense to be safe rather than sorry and choose a solid travel insurance that is there to assist you in any situation. What’s more, the right travel insurance packages are really not that costly!
Just like ISI-approved helmets that cost just a few hundred bucks more than jugaadu helmets, the right travel insurance costs just a little bit more than the hollow, useless ones and give you cover against almost any situation you could face during foreign travel – whether you are traveling alone or with your whole family.
Moreover, just like a helmet costs just a fraction of the bike’s cost, the overall cost of the travel insurance is going to be a mere 2 – 4% of your total travel expenditure. For such a small extra sum of money, one can be sure to receive immediate financial support in case anything goes wrong while abroad or while traveling.
So take in the gorgeous sights of the Australian Outback, breathe in that mouth-watering aroma of waffles in Brussels, or cruise on that Venetian gondola to your heart’s content, just don’t forget to strap on your travel insurance helmet!