When it comes to a holiday, let’s be honest, we want everything to be perfect. We plan out every little detail with meticulous care, especially for international vacations. Whether it is hotel stays, eating joints you want to try out, the places you want to visit or the things you want to buy, you would always want to build an itinerary for everything and make sure they are all perfect to the ‘T’. Unfortunately, however, many of us forget to include an essential for almost all our travels and that is a travel insurance.
Being travellers, our first tendency is to always cut down on expenses wherever possible which is why we mostly find ourselves not checking the Insurance boxes while purchasing tickets or hotels, etc. Many of us also don’t consider the possibility of unforeseen events while travelling such as falling sick or misplacing one’s belongings. However, trust me when I say this, these are pretty common with travellers, whether they are travelling in the country or abroad. Besides these, you may also experience:
- Accidents and unexpected bodily injuries
- Flight delays and baggage losses due to irresponsible carriers
- Theft of money, documents or personal belongings
I don’t want to sound negative but well, isn’t prevention always better than cure? Believe me, I was no different from the rest of the travellers and never considered buying a travel insurance (honestly, it would never even cross my mind!) till my one trip to Thailand which changed it all.
Recently, I travelled to Thailand for work and I was all gung-ho to shoot a travel documentary on Buddhism there. We were a crew of four people and were prepared for excess baggage – considering that we were travelling with heavy travel equipment – cameras, tripods, lights, microphones, etc. What we were not prepared for, however, were the surprises that awaited us as soon as we landed at the Suvarnabhoomi Airport.
The one thing that was constantly on our minds were our equipment. When you travel with such large and fragile items, you are always a little worried about on-transit damages. We had huge caskets containing expensive cameras and shooting gear. We headed to the baggage belt to pick up our luggage where we hit our first block of problem – a tripod was missing. Naturally we panicked! We sought out representatives but they could not give us any clear picture of what may have happened. Nevertheless, they took down our complaints and helped us complete the procedural formalities.
With the assurance of a timely intervention, we proceeded to our hotel where a hectic itinerary had already been planned keeping our shoot in mind. Enroute the hotel, one of my technical assistances joked that the tripod may be jinxed as it had injured him while being packed. We had a good laugh about it but were also constantly worried about our shoot being affected. Nevertheless, we proceeded with the day’s shoot without either the tripod or any news of it from the airline. We were planning on getting a new one the next day, when luckily, we received news that the tripod was traced back to Delhi Airport and it would be sent across to us within a day.
We ultimately got possession of our MIA tripod on Day 3 in Thailand. But the jinx of the tripod did not seem to be over yet. We were shooting on a ledge near a temple in Chiang Mai when a particularly strong gust of wind toppled the tripod into the valley below! Yes, and it happened right in front of our own eyes – while we could do nothing about it! With long faces, the crew and I were contemplating the amount of money we would have to pay to the studio from which the equipment was hired. This is where we first thought of an insurance as suggested by one of the locals who kept telling us how an insurance could help us take care of these expenses.
Sadly, our problems on that vacation were far from over. We faced two more major mishaps – I fell sick to a bad bout of flu, and one my friends’ passport was stolen. I cannot even begin to tell you all about the expenses that these problems came along with. Though the procedures for recovering my friend’s passport were pretty straightforward, it cost us valuable time and quite a bit of money. And, getting myself treated for just a viral flu turned out to be unexpectedly expensive. I had heard of healthcare being an expensive affair in Southeast Asian countries, but this was the first time I realized that it’s not just expensive, it’s pretty exorbitant. Falling sick, especially, made me realize how handy a travel insurance would have been and how much my expenses would have been cut down. Even the first thing they inquired at the hospital was whether I had an insurance or not!
Thankfully, we completed our work well within schedule in spite of all the problems and came back home with a bunch of thrilling memories and a lot of important lessons. However, so many troubles during the vacation were enough to kick some senses into our heads and we learnt the importance of a travel insurance the hard way. The first thing that I did once I returned was research around the various travel insurances available in the market. Even though we fulfilled out purpose of shooting in Thailand, the enormous amount of extra expenditure got me slightly scared and I was ready to purchase an insurance right away!
Since I am a frequent traveller to South East Asian countries, the Asia Travel Insurance from Reliance General made sense for its country-specific benefits. Not only is it very pocket-friendly but it also covered,
- A good range of medical emergencies – from accidents to sudden illnesses
- Multiple scenarios of losses – baggage loses due to carriers, passport and monetary theft and much more
- General expenses in case of monetary or baggage losses
- Expenses for recovering your passport as well as reissuing duplicate or fresh ones
These are common troubles that a traveller can face in anywhere in the world. However, it makes sense to have destination-specific insurances as the services are aware of region specific problems and devise their coverage policies accordingly. Another couple of ways the Asia Travel Insurance could come in really handy for you is in the case of thefts which are pretty common in Southeast Asia as well as road accidents (traffic, especially in Bangkok, can get really rough and unruly).
An insurance should become a travel essential for everyone – you never know what you are up against when you head to a new destination. It can be bad weather conditions which make you fall sick, unexpected losses and accidents or unnecessary travel delays. In fact, you may even have to cancel your vacation due to some unexpected emergency. So, why take a chance? Get yourself a travel insurance right away and make sure your next vacation is absolutely stress-free!
Text by Aarti Kapur Singh
Images by Ramya Mishra