Personal Finance

Going abroad to study? Carry the right cover

Bavadharini KS | Updated on October 28, 2019 Published on October 28, 2019

The policy should ideally meet the insurance criteria set by the university   -  ajr_images

Comprehensive policies offer more protection and meet the needs of universities; those from India are cheaper

The checklist for students planning their studies abroad is usually long, but what should top the list is insurance. One of the reasons why students should carry travel insurance while travelling abroad to pursue higher education, is to cover medical expenses.

This is because the cost of healthcare overseas is expensive compared to India. An insurance cover takes care of both medical and non-medical expenses.

So, what kind of policy does a student need? For starters, it is best to take insurance in India. Students do have the option of availing themselves of insurance abroad, but the cost could be higher and scope of coverage could also be limited.

That said, your student cover should ideally meet the insurance criteria set by the university. The criteria could be in terms of minimum sum assured or a list of specific covers.

Here is a low-down on the options available.

Comprehensive cover

Most insurers such as Bajaj Alliance, Reliance and HDFC Ergo cover basic expenses that include emergency medical expenses (approved by emergency assistance service provider), repatriation of mortal remains and medical evacuation and accidental death.

But there are products in the market that provide comprehensive medical cover and include non-medical covers related to travel, study interruption, sponsor cover and personal liability insurance.

For instance, in Bajaj Allianz Student Elite Gold plan, for SA of $2 lakh, you get cover for emergency medical expenses, medical evacuation, emergency dental treatment, repatriation, accidental death and disability, loss of checked-in baggage, tuition fee, bail bond insurance, sponsor protection and family visit. The premium works out to ₹9,947 per year (excluding US and Canada).

But for a SA of $3 lakh under Bajaj Allianz Student Prime Platinum plan, your cover includes the above-mentioned covers along with that for loss of passport and loss of laptop. The premium in this case works out to ₹ 10,741 per year.

It is better to compare the covers offered by difference insurers to choose the best comprehensive options.

Add-ons

You can also avail yourself of additional covers such as for maternity benefits, physiotherapy, HIV, pre-existing diseases, cancer screening and mammography examinations and emergency financial assistance. But these predominantly come as riders; hence, you might have to pay extra premium.

For instance, Apollo Munich offers additional covers such as for HIV, emergency financial assistance, cancer screening and mammography examinations, inter collegiate sport injury (up to medical treatment sum insurance) and maternity and childcare benefits.

The sum insured ranges between $500 and $2,000 and medical treatment covers up to sum insured.

The additional premium for medical expenses works out to ₹3,429, including tax for one year (screening, HIV, sports injury and maternity).

There are non-medical additional covers that include compassionate visit (round-trip economy class air ticket or first-class railway ticket for one immediate family member and accommodation in case the student gets hospitalised for more than seven days) and bail bond insurance (covers the bail amount in case the student needs to be let out on bail).

Check varsity requirements

While it is important to choose a comprehensive cover, ensure that it meets the minimum requirements of your university.

For instance, Princeton University expects international students’ insurance to cover not only emergency medical expenses but also injuries resulting from practice or taking part in intercollegiate athletics at Princeton, athletic injuries and illnesses sustained at other (out-of-state) sites of competition and medical care, including all diagnostic tests (echocardiograms, EMG-NCV, MRI, and bone scans) and speciality consultations.

Similarly, University of Cambridge expects students’ policies to cover emergency medical care, dental care, optical care, loss of tuition fee if a student is unable to continue studies, content insurance (insurance for students’ belongings) etc.

Companies such as Reliance General insurance and Appollo Munich offer cover medical expenses for intercollegiate sports injury as an add-on cover.

While students have the option to avail themselves of insurance from the university, it is better to take a policy from India, which is more economical. Tarun Mathur, Co-founder and CBO, Policybazaar.com, says, “Nearly 70 per cent of the plans available for students in India cover all the requirements of the universities abroad.”

But students are a little concerned over whether their insurance covers would be applicable in their universities; so the norm is for them to buy a cover from India and then opt for one offered by the university, which is usually expensive, says Tarun.

Claim procedure

If students have insurance from India, they will be worried over claim settlement, particularly in case of medical emergency. Prominent insurance players have tied up with a number of hospitals abroad.

So, in case of any hospitalisation, cashless facility can be availed of at the network hospital. Generally, cashless facility is provided by a third-party administrator (TPA) through the insurer on foreign soil.

However, if you happen to be hospitalised in a non-network hospital, the medical expenses will not be covered; the amount will be reimbursed to the student’s account.

Thus, before selecting your insurance policy, check with your insurer about network hospitals near the university you would be studying, to avoid financial hassles.

In case of non-medical covers, insurers make reimbursement, once the claim form along with required documents is submitted.

What to choose?

Policies are usually divided into two categories — worldwide, including the US and Canada, and worldwide, excluding the two. As policies are expensive in the US and Canada, this classification can help you save on premiums.

At the time of selection, keep in mind the deductibles for each cover (medical and non-medical) so as to avoid financial difficulties at the time of claims.

You can choose from comprehensive policies for more protection and to meet the standard requirements of the university. As for the frills, use your discretion to sign up for whatever you consider an absolute necessity.

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Published on October 28, 2019
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