If you are a student (or a parent of a student) reading this article, firstly, we are sure you must be pretty excited about the study trip and looking forward to a great career ahead. Well done! Securing admission abroad is not easy, nor is it easy preparing for it. As the travel date nears, one thing you need to prepare for is the uncertainties associated with travel and life abroad. We’ll list out some very important concerns that you should be aware of, and why an international student travel insurance can be your only savior in times of trouble.
Protecting Your Health
- If you are going to a foreign country, take a few minutes to understand that everything you need, especially healthcare, can be very expensive out there. In India, a doctor visit may cost you Rs. 100 – Rs. 500, but in the US, just treating a normal fever can cost you upwards of a few thousand rupees, from Rs. 4,800 to Rs. 15,000! Not treating yourself on time to save money may mean deterioration in health leading to hospitalization, which can cost you even a few lakhs of rupees abroad. People who move to other countries to stay for longer periods of time (e.g. for studies) can end up falling unwell sometime or the other because of change in climatic conditions, food, water, etc. You need to be protected financially so that you don’t cough up fat medical bills which can add to the already high cost of living. Student Travel Insurance helps you here.
- Another thing, and this is critical. The cost of a treating big diseases or unavoidable medical procedures can be really very high. Here’s a snapshot of the costs – the idea is certainly not to scare you, but to make you aware of and prepared for it.
Clearly, Americans have the highest hospital bills on the planet for any disease. And the value that conversion of the Rupee to a US Dollar brings, gives us a scary outcome.
Comprehensive Medical Protection
Student Travel Insurance comes with lots of other inclusions as well. Some of the more specific coverage you could look for are :
- in-patient and out-patient care,
- coverage for medical evacuation to India,
- compassionate travel for one or more family members to visit you in case you fall seriously ill,
- coverage from pre-existing medical conditions,
- repatriation (sending back) of your mortal remains (on death),
- accident insurance covering medical bills on hospitalization, disability and death,
- cover for expenses on cancer checks, mammography, etc.
- cover for treatment of drug abuse, neural disorders, etc.
Journey- and Stay-related Cover
While Medical insurance benefits are the main thing to look out for, there are other benefits which need to be kept in mind when comparing Student Travel Insurance plans in India. They could be especially important during your journey such as cover for lost baggage, cover for lost passport, cover for delayed baggage or a missed connecting flight, etc.
During your stay, you should definitely ensure that you are covered for personal liability as well. You might just be breaking a rule without knowing about it. The benefit of personal liability is paid to cover expenses due to injury to a third person or his/her property. e.g. an accident because of your fault, where you may have to pay thousands of US dollars (lakhs of rupees) as compensation.
3 key benefits of Student Travel Insurance you should seek from your education point of view, are as follows.
- Sponsor/sponsorship protection : If your Sponsor dies accidentally, the insurance company reimburses you the Tuition Fee incurred for the remaining period of education up to the maximum limit mentioned.
- Study Interruption or Tuition-fee Waiver : Provides reimbursement of unused tuition fees if you are not able to continue your studies because of a terminal illness or because of medical repatriation, for the remaining part for which Tuition has been paid.
- Bail Bond : If you get into trouble with the law, or are falsely arrested or are wrongfully detained by the police, any government or foreign power. This could be important in countries which are prone to street violence or have rampant lawlessness.
Specific to United States and Canada
Because of high medical costs in US & Canada, most of their citizens have health insurance. In fact, non-insurance medical costs in the US are just 13% compared to 78% in India. (Source : Sarah Dawson, Keith Pollard, Guide to Medical Tourism) So if you are going to study in the US/Canada, ensure you indicate the same clearly when buying your international student travel insurance plan. Because of higher medical costs, these plans will be a little expensive compared to other countries, but then, one look at the table you’ve see above will tell you why. In fact, while having an insurance policy is optional in the UK, Australia and South East Asian countries such as Singapore and Malaysia, it is mandatory in universities in the Schengen area and in US/Canada.
In general, even if the university or the country does not insist on student insurance, it is advisable to have one, because as you have already seen, medical costs are far higher abroad than in India.
The Cost of International Student Travel Insurance bought in India
Finally, the good news. You have a choice to buy a student travel insurance either in India or abroad. But insurance companies in India have developed some very comprehensive products to cover Student Travel in any country in the world. And the best part is that International Student Travel Insurance, when bought in India, is extremely inexpensive!!!
For US$ 100,000 of protection, student travel insurance policies cost $500-900 per year if you buy in the US, and around AUS $400 in case of Australia. But the cheapest similar cover offered by Indian insurers is $170-250 and the most expensive is $350-575 per year! Just 1/3rd of the cost abroad!
Yippee – that’s a lot of savings, and exactly what you need – remember that you are already spending a lot of your money on university fees, hostel/living costs, books and periodicals, etc.
We couldn’t have ended this article on a better note. Don’t try to save pennies going in for the cheapest student travel insurance plan. Ensure you look at the benefits in detail and then make the decision – it may cost you just a little more, but you get far more comprehensive protection which you might actually need during troubled times in a land you are not very familiar with.
So make sure you don’t leave India without getting a good international student travel insurance plan.