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A dummy's guide to student travel insurance

By Mahavir Chopra
August 06, 2017 08:54 IST
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Here are all the things you need to know so that you worry about nothing but your grades, says Mahavir Chopra. Read on!

Illustration: Dominic Xavier/

Done with all the necessary preparations to go abroad for higher education at your dream university? Hope you are not overlooking to buy your overseas student travel insurance.

A student travel insurance policy guards you from the unwanted stress arising from an unexpected situation that may affect your studies. Being from the insurance industry myself, let me put light on a few facts.

1. Student travel insurance is mandatory in most foreign universities

A reliable student travel insurance policy suiting your needs is an absolute necessity and should be your top priority. It secures you from unforeseen contingencies at a fraction of the cost that you would otherwise need to incur.

Every university/educational institution will have a list of benefits that would be required to be covered under the policy. So, kindly ensure you have one that matches the institute's requirements.

This will protect you against any financial crisis that may arise due to sickness, injury or any other emergency during your stay abroad.

2. Student travel insurance should cover a lot more than travel

A regular travel insurance policy covers you during the trip and expires with the end of the journey. However, a student travel insurance policy is more comprehensive in nature and should cover the following:

  • Medical expenses covering the cost of consultation, hospitalisation, medicines for the treatment of the illness or injury.
  • Two-way compassionate family visit in the event of hospitalisation.
  • Loss of possessions like passport, checked-in luggage and laptop.
  • Risks like suicide, treatment of mental or nervous disorders, treatment for alcohol and drug dependency. Some policies also cover extended treatment in India.
  • Any unforeseen circumstances like the accident or demise of the sponsor that can cause interruption of studies leading to loss of your time and tuition fees.
  • Bail bond coverage for any unfortunate incident of breaking the law.
  • Personal liabilities like unintended injuries or damages caused to the third party and any accidental damage caused to the property in which you are living in.
  • If you have any pre-existing medical condition such as diabetes or asthma, make sure that they are covered to secure you from any financial implications.

So please ensure that if not all, at least most of the above are well covered in the policy you go for.

3. Make sure to read the fine print of the policy

Do look into the following factors of the policy that you may not be well versed with:

  • Sub-limits and pre-existing ailments coverage: Sub-limit refers to the upper limit applied on room rent, diagnostic tests, ICU expense, ambulance costs etc. So it's better to buy a policy either with no sub-limit or higher sub-limit. If required by the university, the policy should also cover the pre-existing ailments.
  • Policy deductibles and co-payment clauses: Policy deductibles mean the expenses/amount of the claim that the student has to bear before he/she can avail the benefits of health insurance. Whereas co-payment is the amount that the student has to pay every time he/she visits the doctor or a hospital. So, if the policy deductible and co-payment are lower, then the policy premium would be higher and vice-versa. It would only be wise to choose the right balance of the two.

4. All that goes into the premium calculation

  • Type of plan

A basic plan would cost less as compared to a premium one. The coverage amount of the plan affects the premium too.

  • Duration of travel:

The policy usually covers trips for a duration of 1-365 days. However, there are plans available up to 730 days. The higher the duration, the higher would be the premium applicable.

  • Age

The policy is available for all ages between 1 month to 60 years. However, most companies provide for travel insurance plan between the ages 16-35.

  • Destination

Depending on the destination of your higher studies, the risks you are exposed to vary.

For example, a trip to a country like Japan which is earthquake prone is going to be costlier as compared to Singapore. Also, due to expensive medical expenses in countries like USA, UK, Canada and Australia, the premium is bound to be higher.

  • Source of purchasing the policy

Firstly, ascertain whether it is mandatory for you to take the policy from the concerned university or if there is flexibility of buying it from the home country. Buying the policy in India itself from an Indian insurance company would work out to be much cheaper for you.

Please ensure you buy a policy from a company that has a good claim settlement ratio. And always have a look at the list of hospitals under the hospital network of the policy.

So, wait no more and buy a comprehensive travel cover right away that lets you embark upon this new chapter of your life without any worry.

Ensure a smooth journey for yourself, right from the moment you get on the plane to the moment you are safely back home.

Make sure you leave no stone unturned while making the final decision after weighing the pros and cons.

The author is the Director -- Health, Life & Strategic Initiatives,

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Mahavir Chopra