Not all those who travel are lost

The year was 2014 and I had just crossed the finish line in the well-known Hackney 5 km race in London. No, I wasn’t a front-runner and had just about managed to do some sort of a combination of a fast walk and slow jog to complete the distance with an average pace of 8 minutes per km which was fair enough in my mind.

With the medal dangling from my neck and smile that was tolerant of all those who were still hobbling in the distance, I told my son, ‘That was pretty good, wasn’t it?’

‘Yes, a fair performance,’ he said, ‘you need to do this regularly though.’ This was when we noticed another Indian couple with stress written all over them.

I walked over to them and asked, ‘Can we help you?’

‘Yes,’ said the husband, ‘my wife has sprained her ankle and though the pain seems to have subsided, her anxiety has led to an attack of depression and we don’t know what to do.’

My son told them the way to the nearest hospital and added, ‘Your travel insurance policy will help you cover the costs incurred, I guess.’

We returned home a while later and I do not know what happened to that couple… though later that day I did went deeper into the clauses of my own travel insurance and realised that what a travel insurance covers is just as vital as all that it doesn’t.

Travel isn’t about the destination, nor is it just about the journey… I have always felt that the entire period of travel needs to be necessarily free of the stress of uncertainty. Thus knowing what you will not get is what makes travel less stressful.

It is great to know and understand every relevant travel insurance detail and this, I believe, must also include a healthy focus on all that cannot or will not be covered. This part is vital because of a mantra that I was taught at the Indian Military Academy years ago. During a class on CQB or Close Quarter Battle my instructor there said without mincing any words, ‘Knowing what to do will give you confidence but knowing what not to do will help you win a fight. If you adopt stances that the enemy can counter, the gains will be minimal and this could be as good as losing that fight.’ I guess this is true everywhere. Even in life, even for travellers who are planning to go abroad and are looking for the most appropriate travel insurance policy.

There are hundreds of posts telling you about all the benefits it is equally important to know the reasons where the policy may not work in your favour. There are a few aspects that everyone is aware of and will know that keeping clear of issues related with sexually transmitted diseases, alcohol and drug addiction but not many may yet be unaware of a whole list of issues that can create hassles when claiming travel insurance in case of a calamity.

What I really don’t understand is how people forget or overlook reading the exclusions and direct all their focus on what can be claimed. This doesn’t label all travel insurance policies as villains out to fleece a person far away from his country… in fact, the list of inclusions is impressively long and covers a lot of other facets than just the loss of checked in baggage including handbag!

It pays to understand that baggage, burglary, and bookings are just a small part of the inclusions and the advantages of a travel insurance can come with protection against even missed flight connections, trip cancellations, loss of passport and even has something that is mentioned as ‘hijack distress allowance’! The list of inclusions is far larger than the exclusions and generally takes care of most common issues that may arise during travel… but this does not mean that exclusions are petty facets that deserve no attention.

What is vital is that every discerning traveller must go through the insurance exclusions before deciding on the policy. This is what can make all the difference between stress-free claims and misunderstandings about a travel policy that rocks a person’s confidence in travel. What is really important is that travel without an insurance policy can be the biggest mistake of your life… so beware! Well, obviously, all those who travel and are not lost are possibly holding the soundest travel insurance policy.

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Not all those who travel are lost

Not all those who travel are lost

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Arvind Passey
26 July 2016