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### Benefits of Purchasing Insurance from India for Studying Abroad

That incident involving Konan underscores the significance of health insurance schemes for individuals pursuing studies overseas. Some educational institutions, especially in the United States, mandate students to purchase the health plans they offer as part of the tuition fee, while others permit private or third-party insurance options. In the United Kingdom, international students are required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) included in the visa fee, granting them access to the National Health Service (NHS), a publicly-funded healthcare system. They also have the option to acquire a private plan if they prefer.

It is worth noting that the university-endorsed insurance plans in the US can be quite costly. Anubhaw Goyal (29), currently pursuing an MS in supply chain analytics at a university in New Jersey, disclosed that he paid a premium of \(1,400-1,500 for insurance coverage for a single semester lasting six months. This plan included a fixed deductible of \)100 and co-payment for various expenses. Goyal mentioned that a friend covered by the same policy recently incurred a hospitalization cost of \(11,000, of which he had to bear \)550 out of pocket. Insurance providers suggest that having a private plan in conjunction with the university-backed one could be beneficial in such circumstances.

Student Travel Insurance

Many students and their parents or guardians may not be aware that Indian insurers offer travel-cum-health insurance plans tailored for students. These specialized student travel insurance plans not only cover hospitalization expenses but also provide additional benefits such as compensation for lost baggage and flight delays during their time abroad.

Data from Policy Ensure, an insurance brokerage firm, reveals that student travel plans provided by Indian insurers typically have a premium ranging from ₹25,000 to ₹30,000 for a two-year period, offering coverage of $100,000 in the US.

Despite these offerings, student travel plans are not widely popular. Factors such as lack of awareness and convenience often lead parents to opt for university-endorsed plans. Priya Deshmukh, head of health products, operations & services at ICICI Lombard, shared her experience of initially choosing the university-provided insurance for her son’s first semester in the US due to time constraints but intends to switch to a student international travel plan before the subsequent semester commences.

Interestingly, some US universities allow students to opt for a non-campus plan. However, these private plans must have an unlimited sum insured. While Indian insurance companies do not currently offer such unlimited coverage, they are actively working on introducing plans that meet university requirements. Amit Chhabra, health business head at, anticipates a surge in product offerings during the upcoming June-July admission season.

On-Campus Insurance vs. Student Travel Insurance

Insurance experts suggest that when a university provides a health insurance plan, parents are inclined to choose the on-campus option over exploring alternatives. How does this preference impact the student travel plans offered by Indian insurers?

Deshmukh mentions that approximately 20% of all travel insurance policies sold at ICICI Lombard are student travel plans. The top three countries for which such plans are purchased are Canada, the US, and Malta (Europe). University Living data indicates a significant year-on-year increase of 74% in US-related student travel plans and 81% in Canada in 2023. The growth in student insurance plans was even more pronounced in Europe and the UK (particularly Ireland) at 163% and 273%, respectively.

“We have noticed that university insurance is compulsory for undergraduate and MS courses, while private plans are permissible for MBA and postgraduate programs. The US ranks highest among countries where students opt for our health plans,” stated Aashish Sethi, head of health SBU and travel at Bajaj Allianz General Insurance.

Even in countries where government-sponsored insurance plans are available, such as the NHS in the UK, education counselors recommend purchasing a private plan. Mayank Maheshwari, co-founder & COO of University Living, emphasizes the advantages of obtaining insurance from one’s home country, citing cost differentials and additional non-medical benefits. He suggests considering private coverage for at least a month upon arrival to address any immediate healthcare needs.

Sethi highlights the prolonged waiting period for treatment under government-funded healthcare systems like the NHS in the UK as a significant concern. Private plans offer expedited access to medical services. Furthermore, on-campus insurance typically provides limited coverage, excluding events outside the campus premises. Student travel insurance, on the other hand, extends coverage beyond the university campus, ensuring protection in unfamiliar environments and during off-campus excursions.

Non-Medical Benefits

In addition to medical coverage, comprehensive student travel plans encompass various trip-related benefits such as compensation for common carrier delays, trip cancellations, baggage loss, and personal belongings loss. These provisions are crucial for students who frequently travel back home during breaks and may encounter travel-related challenges. The coverage extends to personal items like laptops and mobile phones, providing a safety net for unforeseen circumstances.

Financial contingencies are also addressed in these plans. For instance, if studies are disrupted due to a medical emergency or a family crisis, a study interruption cover can mitigate financial losses. Sponsor cover ensures that insurance providers will settle fees in case of sponsor-related issues, while compassionate visitor cover assists with travel and accommodation expenses for one immediate family member during medical emergencies.

Claim Process

Indian insurers typically collaborate with global insurance firms or third-party administrators (TPAs) with an extensive network of hospitals worldwide. Students can initiate a claim by contacting the 247 helpline or emailing the insurer for assistance. Digit General Insurance offers a dedicated 247 missed call service for prompt student support.

Global partners or TPAs may facilitate cashless hospitalization at non-network hospitals, subject to the hospital’s discretion. To streamline healthcare access abroad, insurers like Bajaj Allianz have partnered with overseas assistance providers like Allianz Partners. These partnerships ensure timely payments to both in-network and out-of-network hospitals, with insurers guaranteeing payment.

Before selecting a plan from an Indian insurer, it is advisable to confirm coverage for pre-existing diseases from the commencement date. Additionally, individuals should review any deductible or co-payment requirements. Rahul M. Mishra, director and co-founder at Policy Ensure, recommends choosing a plan without waiting periods for pre-existing conditions, co-payments, or deductibles. Opting for an Indian provider with a global joint venture can broaden the network of affiliated hospitals, enhancing healthcare accessibility.