India is a melting pot of cultural, historical, spiritual and culinary experiences. It’s the land that gave us Bollywood, spicy curries, yoga and some of the world’s best cricket players. The south-east nation is home to architectural gems like the Taj Mahal and the pink city of Jaipur, natural wonders like the Himalayas, the holiest river in the world, colourful festivals – the list goes on.
Whatever calls you to this unique destination, taking out travel insurance is a must to protect yourself financially against the unexpected or if things don’t go as planned, so can you enjoy your trip with peace of mind.
Do I need travel insurance for India?
The unexpected can happen anywhere at home or abroad. Travel insurance is designed to provide financial protection against mishaps, injuries and accidents on your journey from the moment you leave your house to when you return.
Think about it this way. Could you afford medical treatment in India if you broke your foot falling out of a rickshaw? How about the cost of replacing everything that was in the suitcase lost in transit from Mumbai to New Delhi? Could you afford to pay for new flights home in case your scheduled flight was cancelled because of bad weather? If the answer is ‘no’ to any of these questions, you could benefit from travel insurance.
What should my travel insurance policy for India include?
Typically, you’ll have the choice between single-trip and annual cover travel insurance. Single-trip policies cover one trip, and potentially layovers as well, until you return to your home in Australia. An annual or multi-trip policy generally covers any number of overseas trips taken within a year, however, the policy will stipulate what the maximum trip length is for any one journey. The maximum trip length will vary – some policies could be as low as 15 days, some as high as 93 days. It’s important to ensure that your longest trip doesn’t exceed the policy’s stipulated maximum trip length.
Travel insurance also comes with different levels of cover ranging from basic to comprehensive. A top-tier policy should offer cover for:
- overseas medical and hospital expenses
- trip cancellation, amendment and delay costs
- lost, damaged or stolen luggage and personal belongings
- stolen cash
- hire car excess
- personal liability
- some sports and activities
- permanent disability and loss of income
- accidental death
- dependents under 21
- 24-7 emergency assistance.
You should always read your policy’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) for limits of cover, policy terms, conditions and exclusions.
What should I consider before taking out travel insurance?
- Which parts of India you’re travelling to
- What activities you’ll be doing including sports, tours, driving etc.
- The value of your cash, contents and personal belongings
- The cost of your trip including flights, other transportation and accommodation
- Your current and predicted healthcare and medical needs
India travel insurance: exclusions and what to watch out for
Travel insurance comes with a set of general exclusions you should look out for before deciding to purchase a policy. Generally, travel insurance doesn’t provide cover for:
- travelling against government advice or warning (these are listed on the Australian Government’s website Smartraveller)
- negligence leading to loss or damage of personal belongings and valuables (i.e. forgetting your luggage outside your hotel)
- trip cancellations due to change of mind or unpreparedness (i.e. forgetting to renew your passport)
- extreme or high-risk sports and activities (like skydiving)
- hire car excess if the accident was caused by breaking the road rules or if the driver was under the influence of an intoxicating substance
- claims arising from drug or alcohol-related activities
- claims arising from unlawful activities
- loss or injuries from unapproved pre-existing conditions
- acts of war, terrorism or civil unrest.
How can travel insurance can help me in India?
Theft and scams
India has a high crime rate which includes theft, scams, robbery and assaults on foreign nationals. Now, this is not to say this will happen to you or that you will run into any trouble, but it’s always best to be prepared just in case.
You should always be on the lookout for pickpockets near popular attractions or for any suspicious activity; this is especially important for unsuspecting tourists who can be at risk of being fleeced. Common scams in India include but are not limited to:
- card skimming at ATMs or establishments in tourist areas when fraudsters use skimming devices to copy people’s bank card details onto a blank card to use
- tour package scams when fraudulent operators sell tourists a fake tour package, or when a guide tells tourists that the package they have is invalid and are then sold a ‘valid’ one
- dodgy guide services who are often criminals who pose as tour guides and take tourists on ‘tours’ only to rob or take advantage of them at an opportune moment
- scalpers or agents who hang around government offices and claim to provide faster services for a fee.
Travellers should always look into a comprehensive travel insurance policy that offers coverage for theft of cash and stolen, lost or damaged luggage or personal property.
Poor roads and driving conditions
India has one of the highest vehicle accident rates in the world. This is in part due to the country’s lack of enforceable road rules and transport infrastructure, and notoriously poor traffic conditions.
Cars often share the roads with pedestrians, carts, cattle and other livestock. It’s also not uncommon to encounter vehicles travelling in the wrong direction without warning or cars driving at night without headlights.
If you were to be involved in a car accident, your rental car company would most likely charge you an excess to cover the cost of repairs for your hire car. Generally, comprehensive travel insurance would cover your rental car excess and any overseas medical expenses in case of injury.
The quality of healthcare services in India will vary depending on where you go. You may receive an adequate standard of treatment in hospitals in most major cities, but healthcare facilities in rural areas can be limited and aren’t often up to date with modern day standards and practices.
So, if you were to suffer a serious illness or injury, chances are you would require hospitalisation or medical evacuation, which could set you back tens of thousands of dollars without travel insurance. That’s why it’s important to choose a policy that provides unlimited or comprehensive coverage for overseas medical expenses or evacuation.
Top travel tips for India
1. Register your trip with the Australian government
Travel insurance can only provide so much protection. If you’re travelling to India, you should register your trip online with Smartraveller, so that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade knows your whereabouts abroad and can contact you or your family in case of emergency. This is especially important when travelling to developing countries.
You can also receive advice, alerts and up to date information on over 170 countries by signing up to the Smartraveller’s free email service. Remember, however, that registering with Smartraveller doesn’t guarantee you consular assistance if you get into trouble in another country. See the Consular Services Charter for more information.
2. Check your passport and visa requirements
If you’re travelling to India as an Australian national, you should make sure your passport is in good condition and valid for at least six months from your date of arrival in India.
Australian citizens also require a valid visa for entry into India. The easiest way to get an Indian visa is to apply for an e-tourist visa online at least four days before your departure. E-tourist visas are valid for up to 60 days. If you plan to stay longer, you’ll need to apply for a longer term tourist visa in person.
3. Check your travel immunisations are up to date
Travelling to a developing nation like India means you could be exposed to infectious diseases. So, before you head off on your trip, make sure you’re up-to-date on all your childhood vaccinations, boosters and travel immunisations. Consult a doctor or visit a travel health clinic a month before departure for the most up to date information.
The following vaccines may be recommended for your trip to India:
- hepatitis A/B
- Japanese encephalitis
- yellow fever.
You may also want to pack medication for traveller’s diarrhoea in case you consume contaminated food or water.
4. Familiarise yourself with local laws and customs
Remember that while you may be an Australian national, you’ll be subject to India’s local laws and penalties when you enter the country. So, do your research on local laws and customs before you travel to avoid trouble.
Some illegal activities in India include:
- failing to carry your passport at all times
- trespassing or taking pictures or videos of airports, military establishments, dams and certain places of worship and temples
- intentionally maiming or killing a cow
- flying drones without official permission.
India also has a strict social code of dress and behaviour. If in doubt, always dress conservatively and take care not to offend or provoke anyone. You should also be aware that physical contact between men and women in public is frowned upon.
Compare travel insurance for India
Looking for travel insurance to cover your trip to India? Our free comparison tool can help you compare a range of comprehensive and basic products from leading brands based on your preferred level of cover, policy benefits and excess amount – the amount you pay your insurer when you make a claim.
Thanks to our handy tool, you could find a travel insurance policy that suits you and your budget almost as fast as saying ‘Namaste’.
Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade- India (2019).
World Health Organisation- Road safety in India (2019).
Travel Vaccination Clinic-Vaccinations for India (2018).