There was a time when only a few students could make their way to international universities for higher studies. However, this has changed drastically in the last few years with a significant increase in the number of Indian students enrolled in foreign universities.
As per a recent Reserve Bank of India (RBI) report, the total expenditure on tuition and hostel fees by Indian students studying abroad has gone up by 44% from $1.9 billion in 2013-14 to about $2.8 billion in 2017-18. Moreover, it is estimated that by the year 2024, approximately 4 lakh Indian students will enrol themselves in foreign universities. The U.S., Canada and the U.K. remain preferred destinations for Indians studying abroad, followed by Singapore, China, Australia and other European countries like Germany and France.
While planning to go abroad for higher studies, there is a plethora of arrangements that you need to make prior to your departure. From making financial arrangements to booking flights and packing the right stuff, there are numerous things that you need to take care of. And while preparing for all other important things, it is quite possible that you may miss out on one of the most important details while travelling to study abroad â€” overseas health insurance / comprehensive travel insurance policy. Other than for Australia, New Zealand and some European colleges, students can buy travel insurance from India by signing/opting for the student health insurance waiver. However, it is always advised to buy student overseas insurance while going abroad for study as it functions as a safety net for you if you get into any trouble or inadvertently cause damage during your stint overseas.
One of the most important reasons why students travelling abroad for higher studies must buy travel insurance is to cover medical expenses, given that the cost of healthcare overseas is quite expensive in comparison to that in India. For instance, a doctorâ€™s consultation fees in the U.S. are about $300-$400 i.e. about â‚¹20,500â€“â‚¹27,000 in Indian currency.
Now, without travel insurance in place, one can end up spending over a weekâ€™s budget on just consultation/emergency room visit charges, which do not include medicines. Keeping such a scenario in mind, it is very important to invest in the right insurance cover to enjoy overall protection.
Apart from providing comprehensive coverage against medical emergencies, student travel insurance also covers you against other possible incidents like study interruption, sponsor protection, university insolvency, loss of laptop/table, loss of baggage, passport and important documents. While buying student travel insurance, it is important to consider some crucial aspects. One, ensure that your student travel insurance adheres to your university-issued guidelines.
If a studentâ€™s travel insurance planâ€™s coverage is not in line with the university issued guidelines, they have every right to decline the studentâ€™s insurance waiver benefit or even cancel the admission. Most universities in the U.S. and Canada demand that international students insure themselves in a plan that covers all expenses related to pre-existing diseases, drug addiction, pregnancy and mental illness, without any sub-limits. Additionally, some of the universities even insist on international students taking travel insurance from insurers in their home countries. It is better for Indian students travelling abroad to buy insurance from India as policies offered by Indian insurers are way cheaper and offer better benefits.
As per industry experts, for students travelling to a foreign land for higher studies, the minimum sum insured must be between $250,000 and $500,000. However, it is always advised to check university guidelines before buying a policy. The premiums for different policies vary across insurers. For a 20-year-old student travelling to the U.S. for a 1-year programme, the average premium for a $500,000 sum-insured policy is about â‚¹35,000.
While buying student travel insurance policy, do compare different plans offered by various insurers, on the website of insurance aggregators. This will help you choose a plan that caters to specific needs and requirements and make the policy much more comprehensive by attaching required add-ons.
Also, ensure your insurer not only covers you for on-campus incidents, but also provides adequate coverage for incidents taking place outside the campus.
(The author is chief business officer, general insurance, Policybazaar.com)