Should you buy student insurance in India or abroad?

Should you buy student insurance in India or abroad?

Should you buy student insurance in India or abroad?

Getting admission in a preferred college abroad is a dream come true for both students, and their families. Parents often apply for loans to fund the high costs of education and living expenses that come with studying and staying abroad.

With Indian students ranging as far and wide as the United States, Canada, Australia, Germany, Singapore, Russia and New Zealand for their studies across various disciplines, one getting acclimatised mentally and socially to the new environment can be quite taxing. Amidst all the hectic formalities and procedures, a family can easily forget to protect itself against unpleasant events that a student might face on foreign soil.

Some features of a superior student travel insurance cover
Medical and dental treatment
When choosing student travel insurance, make sure it includes benefits such as medical and accident cover, so that you don’t spend a fortune on expensive
medical treatments abroad.

Dental expense coverage is also important, since dental treatment could cost five times more in foreign countries. The fact that so many Indians from America and other countries fly down to India to get cheaper dental care is proof of this.

Loss of documents, compassionate visits and legal expenses
Additionally, travel insurance with specific inclusions such as compassionate visits, legal expenses, and assistance with loss or theft of passport and other documents will come handy for students. The most comprehensive insurance products can even include loss of passport, delay of check-in baggage, etc.

Note that student travel insurance is different from regular travel insurance. While travel insurance insures a person only for the trip and expires once the trip is over, student travel insurance protects the insured, both during the duration of the trip and throughout the academic term.

What you must know before buying a student travel insurance coverEducation institutions also understand the importance of this cover for students. Hence, most colleges abroad prescribe some form of student travel insurance. However, the approach may be different from college to college.

A common myth is that colleges abroad make it mandatory for students to buy insurance from their service providers.

While this may hold true for a select few universities, most reputed institutes put forth a set of general parameters/guidelines, which your product should comply with, but eventually put the decision of selecting the product in your hands. In such a case, you have an option to either purchase the insurance before moving out of India, or take a regular health insurance cover from an insurer in the host country.

It is advisable to opt for student travel insurance over a simple health cover as the former is more comprehensive. Also, because you do not need to purchase a separate travel policy every time you travel overseas or come back to India on a vacation. You can buy student travel insurance for either one or two years, depending on your needs.

Cost of insurance
Generally, buying a policy from an Indian insurer is more affordable than buying one overseas. Given that medical costs vary significantly from country to country, the premium for the policy depends on the country you’re going to for education.

For example, a policy taken for travel and stay in the USA will be far costlier than one taken for Africa due to a difference in the prevalent medical cost.

For example, Columbia University provides a basic health cover of $300,000 for about Rs 1,29,420 annually, while you can get a cover of $500,000 for Rs 46,851 domestically. Students enrolling for studies in Canada have the option of taking cover under their University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP). This offers a cover of up to $1,000,000 Canadian (CAD) for roughly Rs 40,000 annually.

Having said that, premiums should not be the only deciding factor when selecting the policy. Another important factor is the ease of getting treatment. Some providers have networked hospitals where policy holders can avail cashless medical care at certain networked hospitals, which speeds up the process.

If you are opting for university insurance plan via a provider in the country you will be going to, enquire beforehand if any such arrangement exists.

Friendly claims service
The claim process too varies from insurer to insurer. Many Indian insurers have tie-ups with emergency assistance services abroad, so all you need to do is call a local number in your host country to make a claim. Research this area of information thoroughly before making your choice.

Students travelling abroad should adequately secure themselves from the financial impact of medical emergencies, loss of baggage or passport, etc. in a foreign country. It is, therefore, advised that students enquire from their colleges about the mandatory coverage required, and if they can purchase insurance from their base country. It makes a lot of sense for them to purchase a student travel insurance before commencing a new chapter in their lives.

(The writer is Chief Underwriting Officer, Bharti AXA General Insurance)