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Studying abroad? Don't forget to buy adequate travel cover

By Mahavir Chopra
October 24, 2017 10:50 IST
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Buying in India is usually cheaper unless you have a pre-existing disease.

Study abroad

Most of us have relatives who are either already studying abroad or preparing to do so.

Getting into one's dream university is a long-drawn process: preparing for admissions, financing the education, organising important documents such as passports, visa, tickets, foreign currency, and so on.

The drill is cumbersome and there's one thing that gets the least attention in the process -- a good student travel insurance. And it's among the most important decisions.

Importance of student travel insurance

For one, it is mandatory in most international universities.

So, one cannot be lax about the product one is buying.

Even if it is not mandatory in some universities, it is strongly recommended to have one while studying abroad.

While most overseas universities offer their own registered insurances, they also allow students to buy cover from their home country.

These policies are customised policies, which cover the trip abroad, as well as take care of the health-related financial needs during the stay.

We all know that getting medical treatment in foreign countries can burn a big hole in your pocket.

Consider this, treatment costs in the US for a fracture cast can be around Rs 1.65 lakh and in case of admission to an intensive care unit (ICU), the charges are around Rs 1.75 lakh a day.

Such huge expenses can be easily taken care of with a student travel insurance plan.


Indian student travel insurance plans provide a good mix of health, liability, travel cover and student specific benefits.

Listed below are the covers most plans will offer:

  • Emergency medical expenses: Medical expenses incurred due to an accident or an unexpected sickness are reimbursed. 
  • Medical evacuation: Covers expenses for getting back to the country in case of medical emergencies.
  • Emergency dental treatment: Reimbursement of emergency dental expenses due to injury or acute pain.
  • Accidental death: Payout is made in the case of death due to an accident.
  • Permanent disablement: Compensation is paid on permanent disability caused during an accident.
  • Repatriation of mortal remains: Coverage for funeral expenses or expenses related to bringing the mortal remains back to the country.
  • Personal liability: Covers damages that an insured is liable to pay for property damage or medical expenses due to an accident.
  • Loss of passport: Reimbursement of expenses for obtaining a duplicate or fresh passport.
  • Loss of checked baggage: Reimbursement of replacement cost incurred for any damaged or lost articles.
  • Delay of checked baggage: An amount is paid for making emergency purchases due to delay in getting baggage.
  • Study interruption: Reimbursement of remaining part of the current school semester fee, if studies are interrupted due to health reasons or death of a family member.
  • Sponsor protection: Pays tuition fees in the event of accidental death of sponsoring person who was paying for studies.
  • Bail bond: Pays the bail amount on arrest or detention by police for a bailable offence.
  • Compassionate visit: On hospitalisation of student or a family member, where a family member is required to visit student or the student is required to visit a family member. Accommodation for the family member visiting abroad and round-trip economy class tickets for the student or family member are reimbursed.
  • Psychological coverage: Treatment of mental and nervous disorders, including alcoholism and drug dependency are covered.

How much is sufficient? 

The university you are enrolled in will suggest the amount of travel insurance you should get.

If they do not, then it is ideal for you to go for the highest cover amount you can afford.

However, you should not settle for anything less than $100,000 if you are going to the US/Canada.

In fact, since the medical treatment costs are higher in these countries, it is recommended to have a cover for around $250,000.

For studying in a European country, 50,000 euros insurance cover is recommended; for countries like Australia and New Zealand $50,000 is advised.

Remember, these are just sample minimum figures. You should always consider your needs and medical fitness before deciding the right coverage amount.

Product options

You can buy a student travel insurance plan from any of the following places:

  • An Indian insurance company
  • University you are enrolled with
  • Insurance provider in the country you are visiting

Buying student travel insurance in India is a much cheaper option as premiums are significantly lower than most international university student insurance plans.

For example, where a US university plan cost close to $2,000, the Indian student travel insurance plan would range from $300 to $500 for the same coverage amount. 

The only situation in which buying travel insurance from an overseas insurer makes more sense is if you have a pre-existing disease. 

Buying tips

Confirm beforehand whether the university you have enrolled in insists on a mandatory insurance cover.

It is important as some universities like in the UK, do not accept insurance policies other than state-prescribed NHS (National Health Service).

If the university offers the flexibility of buying insurance from home country, it is advisable to check whether the benefits offered match the university's requirements.

Avail appropriate health covers from India with better benefits to be well protected. Some insurers provide a list of universities that accept their insurance and also give a 30-day free-look period to return the insurance if the university does not accept it.

Also, ensure the chosen plan provides complete medical protection as discussed earlier along with these three key student specific benefits – study interruption, sponsor protection and bail bond.

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

Deductible is the expense which a student bears before availing the benefits of health insurance.

Co-payment is the amount that one has to pay for each time one visits the hospital.

The co-payment amount is over and above the policy deductible. Needless to say you must pick an insurance cover that has the right balance of the two.

Carefully scan the sub-limits which is the upper limit applied on room rent, ICU expenses, diagnostic tests or ambulance charges by the insurance companies.

Choose a plan either without a sub-limit or one that has a higher sub-limit.

Similarly insurers do not cover pre-existing ailments, but if required by the university, the insurance company may provide this coverage.

The author of this article is the director -- health, life and strategic initiatives,

Lead image used for representational purposes only. Photograph: Kind courtesy eommina/

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Mahavir Chopra
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