When can you extend foreign travel insurance period without paying more premium?
- Planned trip extension: When you want to reschedule your return ticket as per your own discretion and want to extend it to a future date.
- Emergency trip extension: When your airline asks you to extend your return ticket due to an emergency.
- You can extend your travel insurance till the time you come back to your home country. However, the extension is granted only for valid reasons.
If the cancellation is made from the airline's end, then they will bear the cost of your new flight ticket. But, will your insurer bear the cost (additional premium) of the extended travel insurance?
Nikhil Apte, Chief Product Officer, Royal Sundaram General Insurance said, "To extend your travel insurance during the overseas trip, first you need to have a valid travel insurance policy, that is, the policy should have been bought before the commencement of the journey." He added, "Once you reach abroad without travel insurance, you cannot buy it overseas. It is because the cover starts at the immigration counter of the home country and continues until the immigration is completed after returning to the home country. Any insurance policy brought after the commencement of the journey is invalid."
While travelling abroad and having valid travel insurance, there can be two reasons you could have to extend your travel policy.
- When you want to reschedule your return ticket as per your own discretion and want to extend it to a future date. This is known as a planned trip extension.
- When your airline asks you to extend your return ticket due to an emergency. This is known as emergency trip extension.
In both scenarios, you need to extend your travel insurance till the time you come back to your home country else, if anything happens during that point in time, you need to bear the cost which can be related to further trip cancellations, trip delays, medical emergencies, loss of baggage, and so on.
Emergency trip extension
In this situation, your insurer may not charge you additional premium towards extended travel insurance.
In case your flight gets delayed or postponed due to uncontrollable circumstances like a civil war or unrest, airline cancellation, any weather phenomena, etc. and your policy provides the benefit of emergency trip extension, then your insurance cover will get extended automatically for the time period specified in your policy for this benefit. In such a case, you neither have to purchase a new travel policy nor do you have to pay an additional premium towards it.
Tarun Mathur, Chief Business Officer- General Insurance, Policybazaar.com said that one normally gets an emergency trip extension benefit feature in such policies and, it will be mentioned in the policy document that for how many days the policy can be extended without payment of additional premium. Almost all insurers follow the same practice of providing extension in case of an emergency. But still, one must always check their travel insurance cover details and read the policy document carefully while purchasing it. "Generally, the extension provided to you can be for 7-15 days depending upon the insurer. So, make sure that you re-book your flight tickets within the stipulated time period as mentioned in your travel policy. This way, you will not have to pay an extra premium in case of an emergency extension," he said.
How and when to inform the insurer?
To avail this extension, all you need to do is write an e-mail to your insurer or claim settlement mail-id (which is mentioned on the travel insurance policy document) citing the reason for the emergency extension and request them to extend your travel insurance. Before that, you also need to produce a letter from your airline stating the reason for flight cancellation or some official letter proving that it is an emergency trip extension and not a planned trip extension.
You can even call the insurer on their helpline number (which is mentioned on the travel insurance policy document) immediately after receiving any intimation from the airline related to flight cancellation/rescheduling while you are abroad. However, Apte recommends, "you should inform the insurer through email of such an incident along with the proof of communication from the airlines of such delay or cancellation."
Do you get a new policy with extended dates?
Mathur said, "In case of emergency extension, where you have an in-built emergency extension in your policy, the same (existing) policy will be continued for the extended period. You do not get any separate insurance certificate unless you plan to extend your stay beyond the emergency trip extension time frame."
Do you get any other benefits?
Apart from 'no additional premium' being charged for the extended policy, you may also get some additional benefits from the insurer in case of an emergency trip extension. "Some insurance companies extend your existing coverage for 7 to maximum of 15 days of your stay and some insurers may even offer an additional benefit for the emergency extension. For example, the insurer might allocate an additional $1,000 for your emergency hotel booking or flight rescheduling," said Mathur.
Planned trip extension
It is a situation where you have to pay additional premium for extending your travel insurance.
There could be a situation where you will have to reschedule your return ticket and extend it to a future date voluntarily. Apte said, "the option of travel insurance policy extension is not available (on a guaranteed basis) if you voluntarily extend your stay. If there is some emergency and you want to extend the stay, then again, there is no automatic extension provided to you. The extension is granted only for valid reasons and for that, you have to pay additional premium. Also, the process is different as you have to request for extension clearly mentioning the reason and the time frame of extension," he said.
For example, if you are staying with your relative in the US and he (relative) falls ill, and you have to stay back for two weeks to take care of him then it's a valid reason. For such requests, insurance companies will extend the policy by way of endorsement subject to the confirmation that the extension is not due to any health emergency related to the insured (policyholder) and the insured is in good health.
How and when to inform the insurer?
All the details on how to contact the insurer are mentioned in your policy document. So, you just need to write the application on your behalf via e-mail. Mathur said that the policyholder has to inform the insurer at least 7-10 days in advance of the expiry of insurance policy to extend the cover for the number of days the insured wants to stay further.
"The insurer will inform you (insured) about the additional premium that you need to pay for the extended number of days. The insurer will send you a payment link. Once you make the payment through online banking, then the insurer will share the endorsement schedule on your existing policy. This means that they will not issue a new policy, but a separate insurance certificate will be issued via e-mail which you need to keep as a proof of extension till the time you come back to the home country. Hence, for the extended time period, your existing policy (along with endorsement) will continue providing you the same cover," he said.
How much extension you can get
Typically, a travel insurance policy is extendable up to 180 days for which you have to pay an additional premium through online banking.
You should also know that taking a planned trip extension is not guaranteed, it is upon the insurer to approve the extension based on their underwriting. After mailing the insurer, their underwriting team evaluates your risk profile and basis the analysis the extension is approved and provided to you over an e-mail. Each insurer has its own extension policy and hence, the permission is granted accordingly.