If you are leaving on a vacation, or intend to travel somewhere for professional purposes, there’s probably a lot on your to do list. Last minute visa problems, packing luggage, and making hotel and stay arrangements. It won’t come as a surprise to anyone traveling abroad that a lot can go wrong at times. You can lose your documents, you might need to cancel or postpone your trip, or there can be medical emergencies. In a country such as Pakistan, political turmoil can disrupt a lot of plans, and there can be interference in incoming or outgoing flight schedules. Travel insurance allows you to consider all these problems beforehand, and provides solutions for them.
For some countries in the World, travel insurance is one of the visa requirements and you aren’t awarded a visa until you invest in a travel insurance policy from a reliable provider. These include the Schengen countries which are European countries that maintain open borders but other countries such as Turkey are also included. If you are going to the Schengen states in order to get education, then upon buying a travel insurance policy you will be awarded as much as $50,000 coverage on medical expenses.
What does travel insurance cover?
Before buying travel insurance, it is important that you do your research. If you already have a health insurance policy, then you need to find out if your insurance policy has travel insurance included. Most health insurance policies do not cover any medical emergencies that arise outside of the country where the insurance was bought. Then, once you have decided that you will need to purchase a separate travel insurance, you will need to know what kind of emergencies it covers.
These are the usual coverage areas:
1. Medical emergencies:
Medical emergencies do not happen with a warning. Medical expenses are costly in Schengen countries, and as a foreigner it can be difficult to gain access to appropriate healthcare services. But travel health insurance can provide you with 24.7 medical assistance wherever in the World you may be.
2. Lost baggage:
It is impossible to go on a trip and not lose at least a few small items, so do not expect complete coverage in any situation. Your travel insurance will not cover any losses that occur when you lose your luggage in a hotel, or are a victim of theft. However, if you check in your luggage at the airport and lose it, your travel insurance can cover the loss upto a certain monetary value.
3. Trip cancellations/delays:
What if you have made all the hotel reservations, bought the plane tickets, and someone from your family passes away? Or if one of the passengers falls so ill that he is unable to board a flight and travel? If you have a travel insurance policy, then the company will cover cancellation costs for you, and give you a complete refund.
Another important feature of travel insurance is emergency assistance. If you are stuck in an unpleasant situation, you and your family members might be evacuated from the area on behalf of your travel insurance supplier.
5. Loss of passport:
Your passport is probably the most important document to have when you are travelling. If you happen to lose or misplace it, it can be a troublesome experience. Travel insurance also cover such mishaps, and if you contact the company with claims the whole replacement process can be made much more convenient for you.
6. Burial and repatriation of mortal remains:
If someone has an accidental death abroad, then if anyone from their family files a claim, the company will transport the dead body to the deceased person’s country and take care of the burial arrangements. This will not come at any cost to your family members.
These are problems that may arise during or before your trip. It is not necessary that you will encounter such problems. If you are fortunate, then your trip may go off without a glitch. But travel insurance be it Schengen travel insurance is merely a protective measure for your own peace of mind. In case there are any problems, you will not need to deal with them especially when you are in a foreign country whose language you do not speak, and people you do not know. In such a situation, you will simply have to call the helpline number given on your company’s travel policy. It is important to report all medical injuries within 24 hours of hospitalization.
What is the best time to buy travel insurance?
The ideal time to buy travel insurance is when you are booking your trip. If you wait for a problem to arise before you buy travel insurance to cover it, then your claim will get rejected. For example, if you need to delay your trip because there is a medical emergency in the family, then if you have bought a travel insurance policy you will be able to get refunds.
Consider what it might cost you
Travel insurance is usually cheap, depending upon the details of your trip. It costs about 1 to 3 percent of the price you are paying for your entire travel package. But there are a few things to consider.
1. Age of the person traveling:
Your travel insurance package will be more expensive if your age is above sixty-five. It’ll be cheaper if you are young and generally healthy.
2. Duration of the trip:
The duration of your trip also determines the cost of your travel insurance. If you are going to be travelling for more than three months e.g. if you are going to the Schengen states for education purposes then your travel policy cost will vary to cover a term of six months up to a year.
3. Country where you are travelling:
Policy coverage varies according to the country you are visiting. It depends upon the extent of medical coverage needed. If you are going to the Schengen states, then $50,000 medical coverage is a minimum requirement.
4. The type of policy you are purchasing:
Multi-trip policies cover your travelling year round. If you are going to be travelling a lot for work or personal purposes, then it’ll be more convenient to buy combined travel insurance. It’ll also be cheaper than having to buy a new policy every time.
5. Family travel insurance or individual travel insurance:
If you are covering a couple, or a whole family in one policy, it’ll be cheaper than buying an individual travel insurance policy for everyone, and paying for it. Family travel insurance policies are harder to find than they used to, but they are cheaper if you are going on a family vacation, and will be involved in tourist activities.
6. Tax or non-tax filer:
If as a Pakistani citizen, you dutifully pay your taxes then your travel insurance pricing will differ from if you are a non-tax filer. If you don’t pay taxes, then your premium price will increase by 4%.
When do you need travel insurance?
1. Student Visa:
Countries award student visas to people who want to visit a country in order to pursue academic studies, and conduct research work. Travel insurance is often a requirement in order to get visa.
2. Schengen Visa:
The twenty-six European states included in the Schengen area have abolished border control if you are travelling in that region. To visit the Schengen states and cross over their borders, travel insurance is a requirement so that your medical expenses are covered by your insurance agency and you aren’t a liability to the host country.
Pakistan is an Islamic state where majority of the people residing are Muslims. Muslims have a religious obligation perform pilgrimage at least once in their life so a lot of Pakistanis travel to the Holy places each year. Travel insurance is important in these cases to provide health coverage abroad.
4. Family Vacation:
You might decide to travel for enjoyment. As a family, you must be looking forward to doing a lot of interesting activities together such as hiking, rafting and paratrooping. Investing in a family travel insurance will cover the whole family’s health emergencies, and mishaps such as passport loss while you are on vacation.
5. Business trips:
Business trips are another reason why people require travel insurance. Your company might not be covering all of your expenses while you are on an assignment, so it is convenient to buy a travel insurance that would provide coverage for emergencies and accidents.
Related read: 6 Important Dos and Don’ts of Travel Insurance Plans
Which companies offer travel insurance in Pakistan?
1. EFU Travel Insurance
Operating since 1932, EFU is one of the oldest insurance providers in the area and its shares are included in the Pakistan Stock Exchange. EFU general offers travel insurance for Pakistanis with worldwide 24/7 assistance.
EFU offers special discount for people travelling in groups that include twenty-five or more persons. Their policy packages are inclusive of all applicable federal taxes and commissions.
Their premium prices vary according to the age of the person travelling. For people older than 65 and less than 75 years of age, the premium price is increased by 50%. For people older than 75 up to 80 years of age the premium price is raised by 75%. For people of ages 81 to 85 years, the premium price is doubled.
EFU also has a personalized Student package for people travelling for studies. The product has three packages with or without tuition fee benefit.
EFU has three packages available in international travel for both individual and family travelling.
In case of emergency, direct claims can be made from the country of visit.
2. Adamjee Travel Insurance
The company has been operating in Pakistan since the 1960s, and has a regional presence in the UAE. Adamjee travel insurance provides 24 hours coverage worldwide.
Adamjee Insurance offers individual and family travel policies, with varying premium prices for tax-filers and non-filers. Their family friendly policies cover a couple and up to four children who are not younger than 6 months and not older than 18 years.
It partners with International SOS to provide travel health insurance, which is the largest medical and travel assistance company in the World. Their support services are built to evacuate tourists from elements of distress should any problems arise.
Adamjee provides domestic travel plans which cover multi-trips inside the country with each trip a minimum of 7 days and a maximum of 30 days in duration. There are two packages for domestic travelling.
Adamjee offers international travel insurance in the following packages for schengen and other countries.
- Elite (Schengen insurance policies)
- Bliss (Schengen insurance policies)
- Schengen Basic (Schengen insurance policies)
- Schengen Delite (Schengen insurance policies)
Elie, Bliss and Schengen Delite packages cover trips up to 90 days. Schengen Basic and Care packages offer coverage for trips up to 60 days in duration.
Adamjee offers Hajj, Umrah and Ziarat plan for people travelling abroad on religious pilgrimages. These plans have a senior citizen extension for people between 65 and 85 years of age, for whom the premium is doubled.
For multi trip plans, this insurance plan can cover up to 60 days per trip.
Their Student insurance plans are viable for six months to an year. These plans have the optional tuition fee cover functionality as well. The packages include:
- Student Delite
- Student Basic
3. Jubilee Travel Insurance
Jubilee life insurance is one of the ‘big three’ insurance providers in Pakistan. The company has been functioning since 1953 and has entered its sixth decade. The Aga Khan Foundation, Habib Bank and the Hashoo group own the company shares.
Jubilee has introduced its travel plans for people between the ages 18 and 45 that are applicable for a trip extending to about six months. Jubilee travel insurance claims can be made in case of medical and personal emergencies, or accidental death.
Jubilee insurance works with international assistance company Specialty Assist to take care of their customers travelling around the World.
Their travel plans include:
- ViaCare International Travel
- Hometrip ViaCare
- Domestic ViaCare
- Student ViaCare
- Hajj Umrah ViaCare
- Ziarat ViaCare
4. IGI Travel Insurance
IGI insurance company offers travel insurance to people travelling to the Schengen states, and other states worldwide with coverage of medical expenses ranging from thousands of dollars. The company also partners with International SOS, and provides worldwide healthcare assistance to all policy buyers.
With the name of Travel Sure, IGI Travel insurance offers individual and family travel insurance plans. These are available in the following packages.
- Majestic +
- No Icing
IGI also offers a Senior’s Citizen Plan for people older than 65 years of age. A 4% increment is added for non-tax filers.
5. Askari General Insurance
Operating on the Army Welfare fund (AWF), Askari General Insurance started in 1995. The company offers simple yet comprehensive travel insurance plans for people, which are catered towards their specific needs.
There are publicized by the name of Ask Travel, and claims can be made up to one year from the date the policy was bought depending upon the type of policy you have purchased.
Askari General offers family and individual travel policies for leisure and business.
Their travel plans include:
Except the Schengen plan, all of the rest can be used to travel in countries apart from the Schengen area. However, only Economy plan is applicable for Hajj/Umrah travel.
Premium pricing is increased by 50% for people aged between 66-70 years and 100% for people between 71-80 years of age.
Comparing travel insurance policies
It is important that you do an adequate amount of research before any investment, and this holds true for buying travel insurance policies. Once you know about the top insurance providers in your area, you need to compare their policies to figure out what policies suit your particular needs.
1. Get free quotes:
All insurance providers are willing to deliver quotes for their policies. These allow you to get a sense of what kind of product they are offering, and how it is in comparison to other similar policies in Pakistan. You can also use the quote generator on our website, and view quotes by entering your visit details.
2. Use a comparison tool:
Once you have decided your coverage criteria, and filtered policies based upon your requirements, you will need to compare these policies. These tools allow you to view policies side by side, and figure out what are the positives and negatives of each policy. Our website also has an integrated comparison tool, which you can use to compare about four policies at one time.
3. Read policy exemptions carefully:
All policies have a list of exemptions, which are scenarios in which a policy claim will not be applicable. It is important to go through that list before deciding upon a policy, as some policies could be lacking in an important service that is one of your requirements. Remember to look in these areas:
- 24/7 customer assistance
- Medical coverage for pre-existing conditions
- Documents/passport coverage
- Coverage for cancellations/delays
4. Purchasing the policy:
Once the decision has been made, you will need to purchase the travel policy. This can be done online, or you can visit a site location and fill out the relevant forms. Some policies will take effect as soon as the payment has been cleared, but you should be in content with someone from the company to confirm if your travel policy has been activated before you board the plane to foreign lands.
What to do after you have purchased your travel policy?
So now you have bought your vacation or business travel insurance policy and have begun counting the days till your trip begins. This is not time that should be wasted. There are a couple of things that you should do before you leave on your business or leisure trip:
1. Print your confirmation email:
After purchasing your travel policy, you will receive a confirmation email that will signal that your transaction has gone through. It will also include your payment receipt, and information about the product that you have purchased. You must take a printout of that email and keep it with you at all times. You will need to show it when making any claims, but it is also important because there are emergency contact numbers listed in that email. If you are stuck in an unpleasant situation, then it’ll be more convenient if you have those numbers at hand rather than having to gain package data access, and going on the company website.
You should also save a copy of that email electronically, in your Google or iCloud drive so that you can access it from anywhere in the World.
2. Read the policy carefully:
Next step is that you should look over your policy carefully. If any changes are required, you can request them. Or if there is a change of plans, such as if your visa application gets rejected or one of the passenger becomes terminally ill, then you can request a refund on the policy. This refund will not be more than 70% of the initial cost that you paid, and you will need to provide documentary evidence in order to claim it.
Here are a couple of things you should check on your policy so that details of the trip can be changed if necessary:
- If the trip starting and ending dates have been mentioned accurately
- If there are any exemptions that were necessary for you
- If the coverage per day is adequate for your needs
- If the cancellation reasons cover all risks that you may run into
3. Contact company immediately when you have a claim
Once the insurance policy is in effect, and you have left on your trip, you will need to have read the policy carefully. So that if a situation arises where you think you might have a claim applicable, you should contact your insurance company as soon as possible. For example, if you get into an accident with your rental car, and your insurance company offers rental car coverage, then you can get in touch with customer service, and explain your predicament.
This is also applicable before the trip. If you feel that you need to cancel the trip, or that the weather might be unfeasible for travelling, you can contact your travel insurance supplier, and ask for a complete refund on your trip. Not only that, but they’ll also take care of all the hassle of cancelling hotel reservations, and car rentals for you.