What you need to know about travel insurance for visiting India

It's a land of dance and music, spirituality, fascinating flavours 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 brings. Here's how to find and compare India travel insurance that does what you need.

It's a land of dance and music, spirituality, fascinating flavours 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 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
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Posted 7 OCTOBER 2019 Last Updated 8 NOVEMBER 2021

Do I need travel insurance for India?

It’s not compulsory, but it's not recommended to visit India without any insurance that could cover medical emergencies. According to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), local medical facilities aren’t comparable to those in the UK, particularly in remote areas.

India isn’t without crime, so it’s 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.

What should my travel insurance to India include? 

A holiday to India can be a once in a lifetime opportunity, so you should absolutely make the most of it. However, you should consider the following cover for peace of mind: 

  • Medical cover – you’d be surprised at the full cost of medical treatment in India, expenses could run into the tens, or even hundreds, of thousands of pounds.
  • Lost, stolen or damaged luggage and passports – take great care of your belongings when travelling in India. There’s a history of pickpocketing in larger towns and cities, with the metro in areas like Delhi particularly rife with pick-pocket crime. Be alert, and get the appropriate cover, should you become a victim.
  • Cancellations and delays – if your holiday is cancelled, delayed or shortened, you could claim for some expenses. 
  • Repatriation – if there’s trouble with the airline, or you need special travel arrangements due to a medical requirement, these costs could be covered. 

What should I think about when choosing India travel insurance?

What activities will you do? You might be going to chill on a beach in Goa, a yoga retreat or an Ayurvedic resort or to admire the temples, but for some, India's a great place for active exploring. There's trekking, white-water rafting and even trying to spot wild tigers in Ranthambore, if you prefer something more active. But insurance providers may exclude some high-risk activities from your policy. Double check to ensure 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 policies have quite low limits on what you can claim back if you have to cancel. Look at the limits carefully 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? Think about the value of the personal belongings you're taking along – whether it's a backpack of the basics, or all your gadgets, long-lens camera, jewellery and designer sunglasses. Add up the total and make sure you have at least that much cover for theft or loss of baggage and personal belongings.

Will your policy pay doctors directly? If you'd find it hard to cover a big bill, check to see if your insurance provider will pay money directly to a doctor or hospital, or if 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.)

Are you covered for repatriation? In layman's terms, will your policy cover the cost of flying you home in an emergency?

India travel insurance exclusions 

There are many things to consider when choosing travel insurance for India. It’s a country which is very different to the UK, and you should be careful where and how you travel. Here are some of the things to check carefully for in your policy: 

  • Pre-existing medical conditions – if you require treatment for these, you’ll likely need to pay more on your premium. Please be aware that certain regions of India can suffer from severe air pollution, which may be particularly hazardous to those with health conditions. At Compare the Market, any medical conditions you declare will be covered in your policy.
  • Injuries or accidents resulting from high-risk activities – with India being one of the five countries which share the Himalayas, there are lots of adventure sports, like rock climbing and mountain biking, available to try. The Indian Ocean’s waves also offer surfing opportunities, while the rivers offer white-water rafting and kayaking experiences. If you’re travelling to India and intend on trying some adventure sports, check your policy carefully and arrange extra cover if necessary. 
  • Incidents related to alcohol abuse – while it’s nice to have a few drinks on holiday, incident rates typically rise with greater alcohol consumption. India’s laws regarding the sale and consumption of alcohol vary between its different states, so you should be mindful of any restrictions in place as you travel through the country. If you’re injured or lose something whilst under the influence, your claim may be rejected. 
  • Travel to regions which Foreign and Commonwealth Office have advised to avoid – this may be because of disease epidemics or terrorism threats. The FCO currently advises against all travel close to the India-Pakistan border. They also advise that there is a high likelihood of terror attacks in India. You should check for the latest updates ahead of travel. 
  • Act of God – this includes natural disasters. India’s monsoon season spans between June-October. The heavy rainfall can cause flooding and even landslides, while tropical storms can be common between September-December. In the Bay of Bengal, there are two cyclone seasons, April-June and September-December. Some regions of India also lie on active fault lines, which can lead to tremors and even earthquakes. Be sure to check information regarding safety procedures and local advice. 

Do I need a visa for India?

If you're a British citizen visiting India solely for a holiday (this includes visiting friends and relatives), you can apply for an e-Visa. It's free, and you can do it online at the Indian e-Visa website.

You should also check your passport to make sure:

  • it has at least two blank pages (for your visa going in and coming out)
  • it's valid for at least six months from the date you arrive in India

There are some exceptions to these guidelines so always check first.

Any other tips for visiting India?

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

Vaccines and malaria: You can't get vaccinated against malaria, so you'll need to take suitable antimalarial tablets if you're travelling to areas at high risk of malaria or you have additional personal risks or are staying for a longer time. All travellers should try to avoid being bitten my mosquitoes.

Also, check that your immunisations are up-to-date or if you need a booster for diptheria, hepatitis A, tetanus and typhoid vaccines – usually free on the NHS. You may also want to consider other vaccinations for cholera, hepatitis B, Japanese encephalitis and rabies. Either way, speak to your doctor at least one month before you go to discuss what you might need.

Currency: The Indian rupee is the official currency (₹ or R). 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 sneaky currency exchange fees.

Language: There are 23 official languages, 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. 

Tipping: 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 you've made unscheduled stops.

If you're using a guide or driver it's entirely down to you what you choose (and can afford) 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.

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