Shyamal Banerjee/Mint
Shyamal Banerjee/Mint

Get the best features with your student travel insurance

Take the time to read all the details of insurance policies to understand what is covered

One of the biggest dreams students have, and which their parents share, is to study abroad at reputed universities. Globalization has opened up a wide range of avenues for students to pursue. As a direct result of this, students are able to realize their ambition of studying abroad in any corner of the world and avail the best education.

For most universities in the US, a popular destination for Indian students, applications for admission to the graduate programmes for the Winter 2015, Spring 2015 and Fall 2015 academic terms will be accepted from September 2014 (through March 2015). Students will have to start applying for Fall 2015 admission beginning September 2014.

Studying abroad may be a dream, but if it comes true, it entails a lot of risk. Along with the thrill and anticipation, there is also a concern for safety. Staying miles away from loved ones, in a new country, with strangers all around, can cause much anxiety to the students and their families. Also, there is always a need for someone to be there in case of an emergency.

On top of that, medical expenses and hospitalization costs in foreign currency can be prohibitively expensive. A student living outside India might also need visits from family, or other back up, should something go wrong. Student travel insurance can come in handy in such situations.

This insurance is specifically meant for those students who are travelling abroad for higher education. While it is mandatory to have this kind of insurance in the US and the UK, as the cost of health insurance and medical services is high, it is optional in other countries.

However, every student going abroad to study must have this cover, irrespective of it being mandatory or not. Most top universities insist on students having medical coverage of $250,000 (about 15 lakh).

Most general insurance companies in India offer travel insurance, especially designed for students travelling abroad. This kind of policy provides a comprehensive medical and non-medical insurance coverage for Indian students. It is a comprehensive cover and costs much less than the medical covers available abroad. The cover is primarily meant for accidents and emergencies. This policy may also provide medical and non-medical insurance coverage throughout the student’s period of study with auto-renewal and extension facilities. Pre-existing diseases are, however, excluded from the coverage.

Some of the key coverages that one should look for in a student insurance policy are:

Content insurance: A student today is likely to travel with at least a mobile phone and a laptop, both of which are important to stay in touch with people back home, and for daily activities in the foreign country. Losing even one of these can cause a lot of anxiety and will mean extra expenses. Hence, it makes sense to insure these. Some policies have a property and casualty feature, which ensures that you are reimbursed even if your valuables are stolen or damaged during the course of the trip.

Personal liability feature: Some travel insurance policies for students include the personal liability component free of cost. This feature covers incidents where the student may be held financially responsible for damages caused to another person or property, say, at the rented accommodation where the student is staying.

Medical coverage: Whether you are going away for a few weeks or a few years, the risk of medical emergency is always present. Medical expenses can severely dent your finances. So, apart from wishing for good health, make sure that your travel insurance provides adequate medical coverage.

Study interruption component: An overseas degree does not come cheap. So, it makes sense to purchase insurance that will provide coverage in case your studies are interrupted due to some unforeseen factor.

Apart from ensuring that the most important features are included, it is also important to check that the policy is accepted by the overseas university.

Take the time to read all the details of insurance policies to understand what is covered and what’s not before making a selection.

Mukesh Kumar, head-marketing and strategy planning, HDFC ERGO General Insurance Co.

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