Get the right travel insurance for trips to India
You should get travel insurance for every trip abroad, and India’s no exception.
As well as being home to the Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, India hosts a range of cultures and wildlife - which means your travel insurance will need to cover a lot of eventualities.
Choose a policy that’s suitable for travelling to India and with the right level of cover
Major cities have private medical care but it’s expensive, so choose travel insurance with high medical limits.
Local hospitals and clinics might only offer basic care, so treatment for specialised conditions, particularly psychiatric illnesses, might not be available outside India’s cities.
The British High Commission has a list of the most commonly used hospitals in India with information about the treatment available at each.
Travellers should be up to date with recommended vaccinations, including measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-polio, hepatitis A and typhoid.
If you’re travelling to India from a country that has a risk of yellow fever, you’ll need a yellow fever vaccination and certificate.
Arrange a consultation with your doctor at least eight weeks before your trip and check the NHS’s advice on travel vaccines.
With such a range of terrain and landscape, backpacking, trekking and sports activities are popular in India.
If you plan on doing any adventurous activities, make sure they’re covered. You can check policy docs to be sure, and can usually upgrade your cover to include particular activities.
There are some high-altitude tourist destinations and extreme weather conditions which can be hazardous.
Although your travel insurance will cover you for treatment if you’re taken unwell in India, you should take steps to avoid illness.
Air pollution is a major hazard to public health in Delhi and many other Indian cities, especially during winter, so travel outside the worst affected months if you can.
Mosquito-borne diseases, such as dengue fever, occur all year round. There have also been recent cases of zika virus, chikungunya virus and nipah virus in India.
Be wary of food and water if you’re unsure of its origin or suspect it might be contaminated.
Diseases like cholera and travellers’ diarrhoea are easily transmitted, so only drink safe water, stay out of inadequately treated pools and carry alcohol hand gel.
For more health advice, the National Travel Health Network and Centre have a section for those travelling to India.
You’ll need to get a visa before travelling to India. Visa types include tourist, business or medical, so be sure you’ve got the right one
India remains a popular destination, but the situation can change quickly - monitor news reports and travel advice in the run-up to your trip.
Most travel insurance policies won’t cover you if you travel to areas advised against by The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). They currently advise against travelling to certain areas in India, so make sure you check the FCDO website for the latest updates.
It’s also recommended that you avoid busy gatherings while in India, as stampedes have occurred during events with large crowds.
While most visits are trouble-free, check your travel insurance cancellation limit is enough to cover your flight and accommodation costs, in case you need to change your plans.
Some of the laws in India can be very different to those in the UK, so make yourself aware of them before you travel. Here are a few things you should be aware of:
Exercise caution, even when travelling in groups. Avoid isolated areas and respect local dress codes (this goes for men too)
Be cautious on public transport alone or at night. Verify your driver has the correct identification and make sure somebody knows where you’re going
Keep a photocopy of your passport, visa and flight ticket at home, or store them electronically
The laws on alcohol vary between states, but there are some areas, such as Bihar and Mizoram where it’s banned. The sale of alcohol is usually banned during religious festivals, national holidays and elections
Homosexuality isn’t illegal, but same-sex marriage is and attitudes are generally intolerant. Be mindful of local attitudes