Travel insurance to India: what you need to know

It’s a land of dance and music, fascinating flavours, towering peaks and lush rainforests. A trip to India can be the holiday of a lifetime – and you should enjoy it with the peace of mind that travel insurance for India brings. Here’s how to find and compare India travel insurance that does what you need.

It’s a land of dance and music, fascinating flavours, towering peaks and lush rainforests. A trip to India can be the holiday of a lifetime – and you should enjoy it with the peace of mind that travel insurance for India brings. Here’s how to find and compare India travel insurance that does what you need.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: please check the latest government travel advice that sets out what you need to do, if anything, before you travel abroad and before you return home. You should also check the latest travel advice and entry requirements for each country you visit or transit through. Travel rules can change at short notice, so check the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) for the latest information.

Josh Daniels
Travel Insurance expert
9
minute read
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Last Updated 5 DECEMBER 2022

Do I need travel insurance for India?

Travel insurance for India isn’t compulsory, but it’s recommended if you’re planning to visit the country. Travel insurance to India could cover medical emergencies and help you access treatment if you fall ill. According to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), local medical facilities aren’t comparable to those in the UK, particularly in remote areas. Meanwhile, private healthcare facilities in India’s major cities can be expensive if you don’t have medical cover.

Although many visitors travel to India from the UK every year without any problems, crime is an issue in some areas, so it’s also a good idea to have cover in case of a snatched purse or stolen passport.

Customers with more serious pre-existing medical conditions

If you have a serious health condition, the price you pay for travel insurance is likely to be more expensive. However, there are still many providers out there and you should be able to find affordable cover. Whatever happens, don’t be tempted to lie to an insurance provider, because if you do and then need to make a claim, it could be rejected.

When you declare medical conditions on our website, we’ll only show quotes from insurance providers who will cover all declared medical conditions, with no exclusions.

MoneyHelper has launched a directory of insurance providers who may be able to provide quotes over the phone if you have more serious medical conditions. Find more information at MoneyHelper or by calling them on 0800 138 7777.

How much is travel insurance for India?

To get travel insurance for India from the UK, you’ll need worldwide cover. Compare worldwide travel insurance to India with us and you could find cover for £16 a week[1].

If you’re planning on travelling to India as part of a longer trip visiting several different countries, backpackers travel insurance may be a better fit for you.

The actual cost of your travel insurance to India will depend on several factors including:

  • How long you’ll be travelling for
  • What activities you plan on doing while you’re away
  • What level of cover you want for luggage, holiday cancellation and medical care
  • How old you are
  • If you have any health conditions.

[1] Based on Comparethemarket Data for a worldwide travel insurance policy for a 20 year old with no pre-existing medical conditions travelling for 1 week. Prices correct as of October, 2022.

What will India travel insurance cover?

A holiday to India can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so you should absolutely make the most of it. For peace of mind while you explore this vast and diverse country, worldwide and backpackers travel insurance to India will typically include:

  • Medical cover – although India has a universal healthcare system, the quality of public healthcare facilities can vary greatly and treatment may be unavailable or inadequate in poorer, rural areas. Private hospitals in India’s urban areas are often high quality but they’re also expensive. Travel insurance can help you cover medical expenses that, in the worst-case scenario, could run into thousands of pounds.
  • Lost, stolen or damaged luggage and passports – take great care of your belongings when travelling in India. Be aware of pickpocketing, especially in larger towns and cities like Delhi, and watch out for bag-snatching in tourist areas like Goa. Be alert and get the appropriate cover for your possessions, in case you become a victim.
  • Holiday cancellation cover – travelling to India from the UK can be expensive. If you need to cancel your holiday to India because of illness, injury or family bereavement, travel insurance could help you recover what you’ve already paid for flights, accommodation or excursions.
  • Flight cancellations and delays – if your flight is cancelled or delayed and your airline won’t give you a refund, or a transport delay means you miss your flight, travel insurance could help cover the costs.
  • Repatriation – if there’s trouble with the airline, or you need special travel arrangements due to a medical requirement or emergency, travel insurance could help get you safely back to the UK from India.
  • Coronavirus cover – could cover your costs if you catch Covid before your trip to India and you’re unable to fly as planned, or you get it while you’re away and need to extend your trip. We make it easy to compare levels of COVID-19 cover when you look for India travel insurance quotes with us. Just use the ‘more details’ option on the quote results page to see what cover is included.

What won’t India travel insurance cover?

Here’s a few common exclusions to bear in mind when you compare India travel insurance quotes:

  • Pre-existing medical conditions: if you’re travelling to India with a pre-existing medical condition, you’ll need to declare it when you apply for travel insurance. If your condition is serious, you may need to look for cover from a specialist provider. When you compare India travel insurance with us, we’ll only show you quotes that cover your declared medical conditions, so you can easily see what’s available.
  • Drugs or alcohol: insurance providers won’t usually pay out for claims that came about because your judgment was impaired by drugs or alcohol. Be aware, too, that alcohol is prohibited in certain states in India and the possession of even small amounts of illegal drugs is taken very seriously, carrying a minimum sentence of six months in prison.
  • Injuries or accidents resulting from high-risk activities: check your travel policy to see what sports or activities are covered. You may need to add cover for extreme sports if you plan on doing any climbing or high-elevation trekking, or water sports travel insurance for white water rafting or surfing.
  • Terrorism: there are several active terrorist groups in India and places where tourists gather, such as restaurants, hotels, railway stations, markets, places of worship, festivals and sporting venues, may be targeted. Check the FCDO website for details of any potential threats in the areas you’re travelling to. Terrorist attacks are not normally covered by standard travel insurance policies, so if you’re travelling to a part of the country with frequent incidents it could be a good idea to arrange specialist cover.
  • Natural disasters: travel during India’s monsoon season (typically June-October) can be dangerous, with flooding and landslides possible. Cyclones and violent tropical storms are also common, and the storm season varies depending on which part of the country you’re in. In the Himalayas region, earthquakes are also possible at any time of year. In more rural and remote areas of India, the impact of these disasters on local infrastructure can be substantial and long-lasting.  It’s wise to look for a travel insurance policy for India that specifically covers travel disruption due to natural catastrophes or extreme weather events.
  • Travelling against FCDO advice: if you decide to travel to India against FCDO advice, your travel insurance policy could be invalidated. So check the advice before you travel. At the time of writing, the FCDO was advising against almost all travel to the regions of Jammu and Kashmir, and to areas close to the border with Pakistan.

What else should I think about when I choose my travel insurance to India?

What activities will you do? India’s mountainous Himalaya regions offer world-class trekking and mountaineering, and there are countless other adrenaline-fuelled adventures on offer across the country, including white-water rafting on the Ganges, rock climbing in Karnataka and surfing in Tamil Nadu. Insurance providers may exclude some high-risk activities from your policy, so it’s important to check to you have cover for all the activities you plan to try. Find out more about adventure travel insurance.

What are the limits for cancellations? Flights to India aren’t cheap and some insurance policies have low limits on what you can claim back if you have to cancel a flight. Look at the limits before you buy – and don’t forget to factor in accommodation and excursion costs. Find out more about holiday cancellation insurance.

Are all your belongings covered? Add up the total value of the personal belongings you’re taking and make sure you have at least that much cover for theft or loss of baggage and personal belongings. You might want to look at gadget travel insurance.

Will your policy pay doctors directly? Check if your insurance provider will pay money directly to a doctor or hospital, or whether you’d have to cover it initially and then be reimbursed. (Don’t forget to keep any bills or documentation so you can make your claim.)

Do I need a visa for India?

If you’re a British citizen visiting India for a holiday (this includes visiting friends and relatives), you’ll need to apply for a visa. E-visas are not currently available to UK citizens, so you’ll need to apply for a ‘paper visa’ instead. The visa will allow you to travel for up to 30 days in India: if it’s your first time applying for a tourist visa it should be free.

You can start your application on the Indian government’s official portal. You’ll need to submit your passport and any supporting documents in person at a processing centre and pay any required fees.

You should also check your passport to make sure:

  • It has at least two blank pages (for your visa)
  • It’s valid for at least six months from the date you arrive in India.

More details about the entry requirements for India can be found on the GOV.UK website, including rules on COVID-19 vaccines and testing.

Any other tips for travel to India?

Here are some tips to make your trip to India as smooth as possible:

Vaccines and malaria: check your immunisations are up-to-date or if you need a booster for diphtheria, hepatitis A, tetanus and typhoid vaccines – usually free on the NHS. You may also want to consider vaccinations for cholera, hepatitis B, Japanese encephalitis and rabies. Speak to your doctor ideally at least eight weeks before you go to discuss what you might need.

You can’t get vaccinated against malaria, so you’ll need to take antimalarial tablets if you’re travelling to areas at high risk of malaria.

Currency: the Indian rupee is the official currency. You can’t take travel money into the country, so you’ll need to exchange money while you’re there. ATMs are becoming more common and some places accept cards. Always choose to pay in the local currency when using a card and consider using a specialist travel money card to access the best rates. This can help you save money on currency exchange fees.

Language: there are 23 official languages in India, but Hindi is the most spoken (around 40% of the population speak it). English is also widely spoken.

Alcohol: there are bans and restrictions on the sale and consumption of alcohol, which vary from state to state. Check the local laws ahead of your trip, to ensure you don’t break the law while travelling.

Altitude: if you’re travelling to the Himalayas, take time to acclimatise before you do anything too strenuous. Be aware of and watch out for any signs of altitude sickness.

Air pollution: can be a real problem in New Delhi and other major North Indian cities. Travellers with existing respiratory problems may find the air quality especially harmful.

Women travelling in India: attitudes vary across the country, but women travelling in India may face verbal or even physical harassment in certain areas. To stay as safe as possible, respect local attitudes towards dress codes and avoid travelling alone.

LGBTQ: although homosexuality was decriminalised in India in 2018, attitudes towards LGBTQ people are more conservative and less tolerant than in the UK, especially outside of urban areas.

Tipping: is welcomed and as a tourist you’ll probably be regarded as wealthy.

In restaurants, tipping 10% of your bill is a good start. If you’ve been particularly impressed with the service, then it’s at your discretion how much more you give.

Taxi drivers won’t expect tips unless they’ve made unscheduled stops. If you’re using a guide or driver, it’s entirely down to you what you choose to give.

Tap water: never drink tap water unless it’s been boiled. You should also avoid ice cubes, and salads and fruit if they’ve been washed in tap water. It’s important to stay hydrated and avoid heat exhaustion.

Where can I compare travel insurance quotes?

It’s easy to find and compare travel insurance for India from the UK with Comparethemarket. We’ll ask a few questions about you and your trip, then show you a range of great-value quotes to choose from.

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