Get your travel insurance before heading to India

Photograph of the Taj Mahal in India

Historical temples, yoga retreats and delicious street food await. Purchase your travel cover for India so that you can enjoy the vacation with peace of mind.

India has the second largest population in the world with over 1.3 billion people currently living there. The South Asian country is situated between several other nations including Pakistan and China, and it is currently made up of 29 states and 7 union territories. Some of the more popular tourist destinations include Delhi and Mumbai, while Jaipur, Kasmir and Darjeeling also attract many visitors each year.

Delhi also ranked number one as the cheapest city to explore in 24 hours in our study where we looked at the cost of beer, food and taxis, as well as the number of free attractions that are available. Whether you’re looking to spend your time exploring religious temples, eating Indian street food, or visiting the many national parks, here is everything that you need to know to ensure that your holiday goes by without a problem.

Do I need travel insurance to go to India? 

Travel insurance is essential if you are planning to go on holiday to anywhere in India, and it is important that you ensure that you are adequately protected. Private medical care is available in many major cities, but they can be expensive if you don’t have the right medical cover with your travel insurance.

India is outside of Europe and has no connection to the Schengen visa, so you would need to have worldwide travel insurance to cover you for any medical needs that you might have during your trip. It can also help protect you from loss or theft of belongings, cancellations, travel delays and abandonment.

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Do I need vaccinations or a visa to travel to India? 

An eVisa is required if you are planning to travel there from the UK, which you can apply for online through the Indian government’s website. There are also other types of visas depending on the purpose and duration of your stay, while certain criteria can affect your eligibility.

You may need to get vaccinations for hepatitis A, tetanus, typhoid and diphtheria, but only if you haven’t already had them in the UK. Some regions also require you to have shots for hepatitis B, rabies, cholera and Japanese encephalitis, so it is worth checking ahead of your journey.

If you are entering India from a yellow fever country, then you will also need to provide a yellow fever certificate to be allowed to enter.

India is categorised as having a risk of the Zika Virus, which can be spread through mosquito bites. There is currently no vaccine for the virus, but the illness is mild, although having an infection during pregnancy has been connected to birth defects.

Some mosquitos can also transmit Dengue Fever, which can lead to flu-like symptoms such as headaches, joint pains and a fever. There is no vaccine for the illness, so it is advised to take measures to avoid mosquito bites.

Malaria is another potential danger for some travellers, although you are at a higher risk if you are visiting the north-eastern parts of India, such as Meghalaya and Mangalore. Antimalarial tablets are only really suggested for travellers in high risk areas.




India travel tips

Gold coloured Ganesh Kumar statue in India

Driving cars and motorbikes in the country can be particularly dangerous for travellers, with roads in India causing the death of several British people each year. The best way to avoid accidents on the road include ensuring that you have a road-legal, well maintained vehicle with crucial safety measures including seatbelts and airbags. If you decide to ride a motorbike then you will need to be extra vigilant of the traffic around you, and you would need to wear a helmet and protective clothing.

Tourist boats can also pose risks for holidaymakers as they don’t always have life-saving equipment on board, while there is also the potential of encountering piracy while in the Indian Ocean. The sea has strong currents and many beaches are without signs or equipment to provide information or support, so it is worth making sure that the beach is suitable before heading out.

In higher risk areas, travellers should also take particular care of their bags, purses and other valuables. It is also advised to not leave drinks unattended, as there have been cases of tourists being drugged and then robbed or sexually assaulted. Violent crime has also been reported in rural areas like Jharkand, Odisha and Bihar.

Monsoon season, which usually occurs between June and October, can cause problems for holidaymakers, as the heavy rainfall can lead to flooding and landslides across the country. This can create safety concerns, as well as potential travel disruptions for those moving around the country.




Health in India

Most travellers should not drink tap water, and should use bottled water instead, even if offered treated drinking water. Delhi belly is a common experience for holidaymakers in India, but there are ways to avoid it. You should find busier restaurants to eat at where you know there is a fast turnover of food so that you know that it is more likely to be freshly made, and you should also avoid eating washed salads or having ice in your drinks. Some travellers decide to adopt a vegetarian diet while in the country, to avoid low quality meat or undercooked food.

It is also worth using hotel or restaurant toilets when needed, as public toilets are often in poor condition and are not well maintained.

Carrying anti-septic gels and wipes can help you stay clean while travelling through the country, and they are good to use before eating.

If you intend to stay in Delhi for an extended period, you are also advised to be aware of air pollution. In 2018 it was reported that pollution levels in the capital were 20 times the limit recommended by The World Health Organisation.




What to do if something happens while I’m in India 

The main national emergency number in India is 112. The other national emergency numbers that are used are 100 for the police, 101 for the fire service and 102 to call for an ambulance.

If you are in India and need urgent help, you can also contact the British High Commission or British Embassy, and you can find your nearest one here.

The British High Commission in New Delhi can be contacted on +91 (11) 2419 2100. The Indian Ministry of Tourism also has a multi-lingual helpline that is available to call 24 hours a day on a toll-free number - 1800 111 363, which provides information about travel and tourism in the country.

Travel with confidence with Columbus Direct

With over 25 years of experience, we know what you need from your travel insurance. You can travel with peace of mind, knowing we’re here for you and your family with cover for everything from lost baggage and flight delays, to stolen items and medical bills while you are on holiday.