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8,000+ Indians Die Abroad Every Year: How Travel Insurance Can Help

September 25 2018

More Indians than ever before are dying abroad. Here’s how travel insurance can help ease the financial burden

With the boost in the economy, a lot of Indians can now afford to travel abroad. According to a repo from India’s Ministry of Tourism, there has been an 11.4% growth in international departures, from 18.3 million in 2014 to 20.4 million in 2015. An additional 7.3% growth was seen in 2016, with a total of 21.9 million travellers going abroad. Moreover, it is predicted that Indian travellers will be spending nearly 40.7 billion USD on international travel by 2025.

However, with all this travelling there has also been an increase in the number of Indians dying abroad every year. The numbers have been increasing steadily since 2013, with more than 8000 Indians dying abroad annually.

Causes of the Deaths

A study by the Airport Health Organization (APHO), Mumbai, showed that cardiovascular diseases and road accidents are the biggest causes of these deaths. Of the 534 deaths that were analysed, around 65% died of either heart problems or road accidents. Moreover, the majority of people who died were mostly between the ages of 40-60 years. Additionally, more than 85% of the dead were males, and their average age was around 48 years.

Other reported causes of death include falling from a height, drowning, suicide, stroke, and even infectious diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, etc. Some of the deaths were due to natural causes like ageing as well. However, the data analysed was secondary and therefore limited.

How Travel Insurance Can Help

While death cannot be prevented completely, it can still be delayed through timely health care. However, health care is pretty expensive these days, particularly when you’re travelling abroad. In fact, in 2016, health expenditure as a percentage of GDP was 17.2% in the U.S.A, which is a popular travel destination for Indians. In Switzerland – another popular destination – this percentage was 12.4%.

Additionally, in other popular travel destinations like France, U.K, Germany, and Australia also these percentages were pretty high, being 11%, 9.7%, 11.3%, and 9.6% respectively. Thus, getting hospitalised abroad while travelling could really burn a hole in your pocket, unless you have travel insurance.

Procedure for Repatriation of Mortal Remains of Indian Nationals

As problematic as falling ill in a foreign country can be, it is nightmarish situation to repatriate the mortal remains of a loved one if the unfortunate has happened on a foreign soil. While there are measures and systems in place to make the reclamation process smooth, yet due to different religious, legal and political policies in different countries, the task of repatriation can become excruciating.

Indian Ministry of External Affairs via its missions and posts abroad maintains contact with concerned foreign governments, in an effort to streamline the process of transfer of mortal remains back to India. Here are the guidelines as outlined by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) for Transfer of Mortal Remains of Indian nationals from foreign countries. 

Registration of death needs to be performed at the Indian Mission or Post in the country where death has taken place. For this several documents are required, namely:

  • Death Certificate/Medical report issued by a local hospital
  • Detailed police report (copy) needs to be furnished. The police report should be translated into English before submission, in case it’s in a foreign language.
  • Letter of Consent by the next of kin of the deceased and duly attested by a notary. This consent letter covers burial, local cremation, and transportation of the mortal remains.
  • Passport and Visa pages copies.
  • Clearance and arrangement documents for embalming, local customs and immigration clearances etc. Please note, these documents can vary from country to country due to different customs and laws observed



Repatriation of remains caused due to natural deaths is usually a fairly uncomplicated process and encounters no unforeseen delays. However, in the cases of death due to accidents/homicides, the process can get delayed due to investigative and autopsy protocols, that differ from country to country.

Expected Hurdles for the Transport of Mortal Remains to India

  • France: The repatriation process can hit a snag and face red tape hurdles because as per French law, no deceased body can be released without a police tag and the approval of the local mayor. Furthermore, if a body is kept more than 24 hours in the mortuary, it’s mandatory for the body to be embalmed and encased in a wooden coffin.
  • Islamic Nations: Islamic countries have strict repatriation/burial policies with it comes to the mortal remains of foreign nationals.
  • The Administrative procedures in case of the death of an Indian national, employed by a Saudi sponsor can only be initiated by the sponsor himself. The Saudi sponsor is solely responsible for the transportation or burial of the deceased and is legally bound to bear all the related costs as well. However, the sponsor may be exempted if the deceased worker is insured under the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI).
  • Saudi Arabia and other Islamic nations allow the burial of deceased foreign nationals, provided they are Muslims. In the case of non-Muslims, the repatriation of the mortal remains to the respective countries is mandatory.
  • Mortal Remains are subject to pending traffic violation fines as well as overstay (Iqama) fines. Without a settlement of these fines, the exit Visa for the remains will not be issued.
  • Note-Exit Visas are mandatory for the transport of the mortal remains.

In such harrowing circumstances, Travel Insurance ensures that you don’t have to deal with the pressures of mounting financial expenditure when you are grieving the loss of a friend or loved one away from your country and people, as travel insurance covers the transport cost of a dead body.

Be sure to read and understand the terms and conditions of the policy before you purchase it. Moreover, compare the premium rates and features to ensure that you choose a policy best suited to your requirements and budget.

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