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Buying travel insurance? 6 things you must know

Last updated on: July 01, 2014 20:06 IST

Buying travel insurance? 6 things you must know

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Courtesy CollegePond

Most insurance providers do not mention about hidden charges and policy conditions unless asked for.

These tips will help you pick the right travel and medical insurance for you.

You have really slogged hard for this much awaited opportunity of pursuing your higher studies abroad and now you want to single-mindedly concentrate on your education.

Taking a reliable student health insurance policy is an absolute necessity and should be the top priority for international students.

Forearmed with a dependable insurance policy one can easily guard against any unexpected financial burden in the event of sudden illness or injury.

Along with the health insurance policy, at all times, remember to carry travel insurance from the date of your departure from the home country to the day you leave the US soil.

The million-dollar question is whether you should purchase the insurance from a local Indian insurance company or consider buying it from the university you've applied at.

Before you make a choice, consider these factors. 

1. University insurance policy

At the very outset you must know the insurance policy of the university you are attending.

You must ascertain whether it is mandatory to take the insurance from the concerned university or you have the flexibility of buying it from your home country.

Even if the university gives you a choice to pick up a plan for a local insurance company, you need to check if the pre-designed plan is in line with university requirements.

If not you can request them to customise it accordingly; most insurance companies will happily comply to add a feature or two.

Also, if your spouse is working in the US, please check if the university allows you to be part of their family coverage benefits.

Courtesy: CollegePond.com

Collegepond is an online/offline-counselling career guidance, test preparation and admissions counselling outfit.

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Image: Is your university's health insurance policy the best you can get?
Photographs: Reuters

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2. Pricing factor

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An insurance policy purchased from India is any day cheaper than one bought in the US and the difference is substantial.

While you may be tempted to buy a policy offered at a low premium since it guarantees maximum coverage, make a genuine attempt to know the plan in detail.

Do a thorough comparative study to understand whether it offers value for money.

There are numerous hidden clauses and riders in the policies that need your due consideration.

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Image: Do not be tempted by the low premium of the policy.
Photographs: Illustration by Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
Tags: India , US

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3. Policy deductible and co-payment clauses

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Policy deductible is the out-of-the-pocket expense which insurer is required to bear before s/he can avail the benefits of the health insurance.

Co-payment is the amount that the insured has to pay every time s/he visits the doctor/hospital.

This amount is over and above the policy deductible.

As a rule the lesser policy deductible and co-payment are, the higher the premium would be.

You need to diligently pick up an insurance that has the right balance.

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Image: Check for out-of-pocket expenses and hidden charges, if any.
Photographs: Illustration by Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
Tags: 1

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4. Sublimits and pre-existing ailments coverage

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This is a very crucial factor to be considered before buying an insurance policy.

Sub limits are the upper limit applied on room rent, ICU expenses, diagnostic tests or ambulance charges by the insurance companies.

A lower sub limit means that you would not be able to take services from a good hospital and, therefore, choose a policy either without sub limit or has a higher sub limit.

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Image: Check for limits and sub limits on hospital expenses.
Photographs: Illustration by Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com
Tags: ICU

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5. Hospital network

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Before picking up a policy, always have a look at the list of hospitals that come under the hospital network defined by the insurance company.

University insurance may provide you with a better network of hospitals and may even have Preferred Provider Organisation (PPO) tie up with good hospitals.

This would make life easy as treatment in these hospitals would be cashless and the claim process too would be comparatively smoother.

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Image: Does your insurance policy cover a large list of hospitals?
Photographs: Illustration by Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
Tags: PPO , Hospital

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6. Claim settlement history

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Always look at the claim settlement ratio of the company you are buying insurance from.

After spending a hefty amount on skyrocketing premiums, claim denial is the last thing you want to face.

Make sure you read every word of your insurance policy and not get tricked by exclusions and riders written in almost unreadable fonts.

Also try and call up the customer service helpline to check the quality and promptness of their service.

Your home insurance company may have an upper hand as far as cost of the premium is concerned whereas university insurance may score high in terms of better hospital network, no sub limits and cashless benefits.

Medical expenses are exorbitantly high in the US and you must pick up an insurance policy that ensures quality treatment without any financial worries.

Make sure you leave no stones unturned and weigh the pros and cons before you take the final call.


Image: Make sure there are no hidden clauses that rid you from claiming medical benefits.
Photographs: Illustration by Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com
Tags: US

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