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Memo to Indian students: Buy travel insurance before you go abroad

Indian students are increasingly pursuing higher education at foreign universities for better opportunities. Earlier this year, the Bureau of Immigration data suggested that more than 1.33 lakh Indian students went overseas for higher studies. However, staying away from home doesn’t come without certain risks. If you’re one of the aspirants looking to pursue higher education abroad, you shouldn’t forget to safeguard yourself with a student travel plan. The policy proves to be useful in case of unforeseen events that might arise during the course of your stay. 

Understanding student travel policy

It is only realistic to be ready for an adverse situation in a foreign country. Therefore, having student travel insurance coverage as a top priority will provide financial security against unanticipated expenditures such as lost luggage, flight delays, medical bills, laptop loss, legal fees, etc. Moreover, its absence might force the new settlers to pay out of pocket, which could impact the overall funds. 

It makes even more financial sense to buy the plan from India as it costs much less here. The Bureau of Immigration data also indicates that a high number of students head to the US for studies. So, if a one-year postgraduate course costs more than Rs. 20 lacs, student travel insurance costs will only cost about 1-1.5%, or approximately Rs. 30,000. This is a reasonable cost to ensure one’s safety and well-being in a foreign land without one’s family. Also, one should not forget to apply for extensions as required depending on the academic term. 

Besides, student travel policy shouldn’t be compared to the university health program or country-specific scheme because those plans cover only medical causes and exclude scenarios like travel to nearby cities and academic-related issues. For example, a trip to Mexico or Cuba for students studying in the US might not be covered based on geographical coverage.

Eligibility

The student policy is designed for people between 16 and 35 years old who are enrolled in full-time courses at an accredited college or university and have valid passports. 

Features that ensure wholesome protection abroad – Travel.

Delay and loss of baggage – Issues like baggage or flight delays can be harrowing for students. Hence, a travel policy is a must as it shields them against expenses made in such cases. 

Loss of passport – The policyholder gets covered against the expenses arising out of the loss of passport. 

Medical

Medical coverage – Healthcare outside India is expensive and can potentially deplete a student’s budget.Thus, a student travel insurance policy that offers cashless medical care at network hospitals is advisable as it reduces the pressure of hospital expenses. For non-network hospitals, reimbursement is made after submitting a claim for the bill amount. Other inclusions are dental expenses, medical evacuation, body repatriation, and lifelong disability.

Compassionate visit – Most insurance companies provide coverage for family members’ visits in case of an emergency.

Study

Fee reimbursement – This policy is helpful if a student has to return home owing to a medical condition but has paid up the current semester’s fees in full or partially.

Loss of laptop – Students heavily depend on their laptops during their course. Its loss can bring about major financial and mental stress. Hence, it’s ideal to opt for a plan that covers its loss.

Is cancellation possible?

If the insured individual has not travelled during the term, the policy allows for cancellation and premium return options. For this, submit a letter 15 days in advance or 7 days after the trip outlining a valid reason. Also, submit passport copies and supporting documents like visa refusal or medical proof.Don’t forget to evaluate the various features, and read the terms and conditions in detail before choosing your plan.

(The author is the business head of Travel Insurance and Policybazaar.com)



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