Tips to choose the best travel insurance plan: The need for travel insurance arises because studying in a foreign land involves a number of risks, which can be in the form of a freak accident, accidental loss of baggage while traveling or ticket cancellation. Then there can also be a case of medical emergency which would mean you have to be immediately evacuated from the country of your study. Unless you are properly covered by a policy, the evacuation would turn out to be a costly affair. So, to avoid such contingencies, which might not only deal you a heavy financial blow, but even put your life at risk, travel insurance is pretty important. In fact, if you know how to choose the best travel insurance plan you can escape from the many troubles that otherwise could become a source of distraction during your studies. Also note that the best travel insurance plans needn’t be costly as there are many affordable travel insurance plans available for international students; all you need to do is to find them.
Travel insurance usually not mandatory for admission, but it is your safety cushion
Unlike health insurance, which is mandatory for admission into most top universities across the world, travel insurance is more of a personal requirement. Also, while there are country-specific study abroad health insurance policies, no such policies generally exist for travel insurance. Instead many universities provide travel insurance if a student is travelling abroad for study-related purpose for free, and in which case the cost is borne by the university’s insurance budget, with the University of Cambridge being a good example.
But typically travel insurance offered by these universities is very basic and barely covers the gamut of risks that a student may face in a foreign country. And when we speak of travel insurance, it is important to realize that it doesn’t only include medical coverage, but non-medical coverage as well like content insurance. So, you need a comprehensive and affordable travel insurance plan to go with your health insurance.
If you want to select right travel insurance plan, stick to the following points:
Content or property insurance: As part of your education, you will be travelling with items like mobile phone, laptops and cameras, which apart from being expensive are part of your day-to-day life and aid in your education process. Now if one or two of these items break(s) down in the middle of a journey, and you don’t have a travel policy, it can cause terrible distress. Because, finding replacements or getting it fixed at such a short notice might cost you a bomb. However, if you have travel insurance, you can simply walk into a gadget shop to get it fixed or buy a new one, all paid for by your insurer. The same way, if you lose your baggage or other valuables while travelling, you can make a claim. So, when buying a travel plan ensure that these things are properly covered. Also while items damaged or stolen aren’t covered by normal plans, some policies do offer reimbursements. The bottom line though is the more extensive the coverage, costlier the plan.
Check the credentials of the insurance provider
There are many shady characters masquerading as travel insurance service providers, who have very low credit ratings, and you need to stay away from them. A good way to figure out whether an insurance company is creditable and worth associating with is to check their credit ratings. For example, in India, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance has been awarded iAAA rating by ICRA, a rating that signifies the highest claim paying ability. If you buy any plan with insurance companies with such high ratings, there are less chances of your claim being rejected.
Another top travel insurance tip is to check the response of the insurance company’s customer care, whether they pick up your call immediately or keep you waiting. Promptness is very crucial factor, especially when there is an emergency and you need services like cashless hospitalization.
Is the medical coverage adequate enough?
When you are travelling abroad, you may fall sick or there may be an accident with some of these situations demanding immediate medical attention. But medical costs in the top study-abroad destinations can be prohibitive, and if you are not covered properly, be ready to pay a hefty medical bill. To be on the safer side, select right travel insurance plan that covers at least the basic health care ailments and also has proper accidental coverage. The best travel insurance plans are those that are affordable, have an easy claim process, and provide comprehensive coverage.
Is your study interruption covered under the insurance scheme?
The best travel insurance plans will more often than not include coverage for unexpected study interruption. Remember studying abroad is a very costly affair, more so, if you are pursuing an engineering or MBA degree, and if you are forced to leave your study half way because of some unforeseen circumstances, it would be a financial disaster. If you don’t want such a situation to unfold, insist on the study abroad component to be included in your travel policy.
There are many students that explore work opportunities when they are studying abroad. And you too can do the same as it will not only help you pay off the insurance bills, but go a long way to lessen the financial burden on your family. Countries like Germany and Australia have post-study programs that are student-friendly and also pay well. Many countries, including New Zealand, even have minimum wages fixed for international students. So, after analyzing their study program and visa allowances, students can take up either full time or part-time jobs.
Check out domestic plans
Domestic travel insurance plans typically are much cheaper than their counterparts abroad. If you buy Overseas Individual Student Travel Insurance from ICICI Lombard, for instance, the bills are up to three times cheaper. The cover offered by these domestic insurance providers is equivalent to those offered by insurance companies abroad. Further, since most of the service providers offer cashless settlement, the claim process is hassle-free and simple. In case you are not satisfied with the domestic plans, you can always opt for international plans offered by providers like Allianz Global and TravelSafe.
While many people ignore or fail to take note of the importance of the renewability feature, it has great benefits and can save you some hard-earned cash. For one, if you buy a plan that can be renewed before it expires; you don’t have to take the pain of finding an alternate plan or buying a new one. The second, and most important point, if the policy is renewable, any medical condition that may have occurred during your original plan will be exempt from the clause ‘pre-existing condition.’ But if you instead buy a new plan, the condition would be considered a pre-existing condition and as such it may be not be covered or you may be charged extra to get it covered. In the normal scenario, there are no extra charges levied for the “renewability" feature.
If you follow the points we have addressed, you will be well on your way to buying a travel plan that won’t let you down. But do remember, the best travel insurance plans work best only when you make them work, since policies and personal requirements differ from country to country and from individual to individual. This means you have to cross check every point minutely and figure out loopholes in a plan, if any.
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