For students travelling abroad, it is a common dilemma whether to buy student travel insurance from the University or from an Indian Insurance Company. Luckily, if you research well, it is not such a difficult decision to make. Here’s how to go about making the choice.
Student Travel Insurance – Check University Rules
The first thing you need to do is check the rules set by the University (or School / College / Institution) that you propose to study in. All universities have a policy on insurance and you need to know what that is. Finally, that is what decides the validity. You should find these rules in the Joining Requirements for the course you are going for. Else just check the college website.
Priority of Checking International Student Travel Insurance requirements
- For most universities, especially in the US, UK, Cananda, Europe and Australia/NZ, international student travel insurance that covers medical costs, is mandatory. So not buying student insurance is thankfully not a choice. Healthcare costs abroad are extremely high and there is no question of taking such a large risk.
- Some universities make it clear that you would need to buy student travel insurance from a specific insurance company of that country. The university would have a partnership/understanding or a customized set of benefits meant specifically for all their international students. So you have no choice is this case either.
- Some other universities may only insist that you need to buy the insurance from the country in which the university is located. So you can choose an insurer which is strong in that region.
- There are also some universities who do not mandate travel insurance. We strongly recommend you don’t skip buying insurance for this reason. The cost of student travel insurance is really very small given the benefits they offer. And you need the protection from a student travel insurance policy just in case there is an eventuality.
- However, most universities allow you to buy from any insurer (Indian or foreign) as long as the insurance policy meets minimum requirements. These are generally about covering Pre-existing Diseases or Illnesses, and of course a minimum health cover limit in US $ or Euros.
- The good thing is that most Indian insurers know the requirements well and their products adequately cover all conditions set by Universities. Not just that, you also get optional add-on benefits with the main policy. MintWise also helps you to customize your policy (to an extent) by talking to the insurance company.
Premium Rates Differ Significantly
So what is the difference in premium if you buy a student travel insurance in India versus buying it abroad? Significant. Buying it in India will cost you just one-fourth of the premium that you pay abroad! To cover studies in the United States, a travel insurance cover when bought abroad for a Sum Insured of $100,000 would cost $2,200 annually. That is roughly Rs. 82,000. But an Indian student travel insurance for international study in the US will cost you just Rs. 20,000! Especially if your country of study is US or Canada, the savings can be substantial. Here’re some more examples that will make the cost benefit clear.
Coverage and Benefits Comparison
Then there is the question of how the benefits offered by both Indian and foreign options compare with each other. This is an important consideration when Indian insurance providers score very well. Let’s see how.
Generally, cover offered by foreign insurers are plain vanilla, i.e. they are focused entirely on the medical insurance bit and do not cover a lot of other benefits. Here is a list of additional benefits that Indian Insurers offer. Sometimes, such benefits can be really handy and makes your insurance cover far more comprehensive, and your study experience far more secure.
Pre-Existing Illnesses, Sub-limits
Now this is something to watch out for. A sub-limit can work in different ways – sometimes it is a limit on your daily spending or the room you can rent out in a hospital, and sometimes it can mean that there is a cap on the overall amount you are able to claim per illness. Most foreign student cover products come with sub-limits whereas Indian insurance companies rarely include this even in their base plans.
Also, if you are someone who has a PED (pre-existing disease) or Pre-Existing Illness, you need to be very sure about the insurance policy covering this aspect. Most such policies DON’T.
Claims Settlement Experience
There is no better way to check credibility of your International Student Travel Insurance provider than checking the claims settlement ratio. This ratio is just the percentage of claims passed out of the total claims received by the company. If you are thinking about a foreign insurance company for your student travel insurance, check their claim settlement ratio. For India, this information is published every year by the IRDAI, hence it is readily available.
Using the Free-Look Period
Student travel insurance products in India come with a really unique feature, thanks to Indian insurance industry norms. You can return a policy bought in India with complete refund (minus minimal costs) within 30 days of buying the policy. That gives you enough time to go through the coverage of the policy. Just in case there is something you expected to see and did not get, you can call up the insurance company and ask for a premium refund. Just make sure you do this before you start your trip. Of course, don’t forget to buy another policy after that.
Foreign insurers may not offer the comfort of the Free-look facility.
Company Service Levels – When in Rome, do you need to buy Roman?
Insurance companies is India have managed to service international students well. And here’s why. Every company is tied up with either an International Insurer or and International Service Provider which manages customer service. So when you buy a policy from an Indian insurer and were to encounter need for hospitalization, here’s what to do. Just call up the local number of the country provided to you by the Insurance Company. The Service Provider takes over and manages your case with local expertise and help.
Hope we were able to help with your decision on the best international student travel insurance for you.