Study abroad insurance - Policies across countries
Updated on Dec 11, 2015 - 3:35 p.m. IST by Manashjyoti
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Study Abroad Insurance
: In most of the top international academic destinations, universities demand that you maintain a healthy insurance cover for the period of your study. If we look closely, it becomes clear that there are sound arguments behind institutions adopting such a policy. For one, the cost of medical treatment and services in a country like the USA or Australia can be so extravagant that you might be forced to leave your study half way to just pay the medical bills. The second reason why study abroad insurance makes sense is there may be instances like a medical emergency when you can’t afford to wait until you can arrange the money for hospitalization – but with an insurance plan in hand, you can get immediate treatment and save precious time.

Having an insurance plan is not only beneficial for students but their parents are also assured about their child's well-being. Therefore, you must look at study abroad insurance programs as a necessary component that will ensure that you return to your native country with your academic degree in sound health.


Let's check the insurance policies and schemes of a few major international academic destinations as it will help you understand the many nuances of insurance with regard to study abroad programs: 



International students in Australia aren’t normally eligible for free or subsidized medical treatment under the country’s healthcare system (Medicare). As such, they are required to have Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) for the entire duration of their study. The purpose of the cover is to insure against illness and accidents while they are in the country. Students need to get the cover around the same time they accept the offer to study at a university.


Using the health cover, students can access the university’s health services as well as public hospitals (for some treatments there are waiting periods). However, if students wish to have access to private hospitals, they will have to go for high-level covers and pay extra.


Study abroad health covers can be purchased from any of the following providers approved by the Australian government:

  • Australian Health Management

  • BUPA Australia

  • Medibank Private

  • Allianz Global Assistance (subcontracted by Lysaght Peoplecare)

  • nib OSHC

The cost of the study abroad insurance cover depends on a number of factors like duration of the visa and whether the student is single or with spouse/children. The longer you stay, the higher is the cost. Also, if you bring your spouse/child along with you, the bills will be higher.

Here is a cost sample from Allianz Global Assistance:

OSHC 2015 price selection by month (Essential coverage effective January 01, 2015)

Months duration


Dual Family

Multi Family

















You can buy OSHC either through a university or independently:

Buying OSHC through a university - In this case, you have to pay the OSHC amount that will be specified on the letter of offer. Normally the university concerned schedules the first payment with the insurance provider, but for subsequent payments and renewals, you will be personally responsible. Also, the OSHC will be only for the duration of your visa. In such cases where your studies end earlier and your visa is no longer valid, you can claim for refund for the unused portion of the OSHC; it is helpful for students who want to save every penny while buying study abroad insurance covers.

Buying OSHC independently - Many universities allow students to buy their OSHC independently from an approved provider. Students, however, need to mention it in the appropriate section of their Acceptance Offer form.


Travel Insurance

Most Australian universities have travel insurance policies that cover currently enrolled students.  In fact, overseas travel insurance is a mandatory requirement in most of the top universities, with some of them offering it for free, like Victoria University (VU). The VU Overseas Insurance is free and is valid for a period up to 12 months, including a maximum of 30 days leisure travel.

Typically travel insurance covers:

  • Curriculum related travel and is directly or indirectly linked to the completion of your study program (including exchange program, work experience and clinical placements).

  • Travel that takes place within the one week of the start and conclusion of an approved university travel program.


Notwithstanding the desperate needs of students who study abroad, they also have many things in common. One of those commonalities is the need to feel safe and secured against unanticipated or very high health care expenses. Addressing this need, universities in the USA mandate that students are covered under comprehensive health insurance plans. While most universities have their own university-specific insurance plans, students are also permitted to buy alternative insurance plans. These study abroad insurance programs make life easier for students.

If you are studying in Harvard University, you will be covered under the university’s health insurance program –The Harvard University Student Health Program (HUSHP). The comprehensive program comprises two vital components: the Student Health Fee and the Student Health Insurance Plan. The former is a part of Harvard enrollment fee and cannot be waived, while the latter which takes care of hospitality and specialty related expenses, can be waived with a comparable health insurance plan. Other universities follow more or less similar policies when adopting insurances for study abroad students. Stanford University has its own Cardinal Care insurance plan and The University of Chicago University Student Health Insurance Plan (U-SHIP).

The quarterly premium of a study abroad insurance health plan in the US typically comes to around $1,144.


Travel insurance

Most universities in the USA recommend that students purchase at least basic travel insurance plan that cover optional baggage and pre-trip cancellation insurance.

United Kingdom:

For many international students, only emergency medical treatment is free of charge in the UK. They aren’t covered under the National Health Services (NHS), which is the national healthcare system of the UK and pays for medical treatment and the costs of repatriation. As per the Immigrant Act 2014, students from outside the European Union Area (EUA) have to pay an additional surcharge of £150 per student, per year of the visa, in addition to £75 for part years of less than six months, to avail NHS services. 


Also, as soon as students arrive in the UK, they are required to register with a General Practitioner (GP). Students are requested to bring along documentary evidence in case they suffer from any long-standing illness, and inform the GP about the same. In case of on-going medication as well, students should discuss with the GP.  Remember, sharing these details will help you maximize the benefits from study abroad insurance programs you purchase.


Since NHS isn’t a comprehensive medical cover, students are advised to have private medical insurance to cover potential health expenses.


That is not all as students also need to purchase travel insurance as part of the study abroad insurance program. Travel insurance covers a multitude of areas including emergency medical evacuation, repatriation and evacuation if there is a political emergency, trip interruption, delay or cancellation, and cover against loss, lost baggage, theft or damage to personal possessions while abroad, in addition to a host of other benefits.   


New Zealand:

Studentsafe-University, which is the preferred insurance provider in New Zealand, is a comprehensive travel and medical insurance plan that has been developed collaboratively by all New Zealand universities. Designed for international students, it is a Group Insurance Plan and provides insurance for your entire duration of stay, i.e., until the expiry of your study visa.


One of the best study abroad insurance programs available for students, the annual costs of Studentsafe-University premiums as offered by University of Canterbury are as follows:


Cost of annual premiums:


2014 Annual Premiums

2015 Annual Premiums


NZ$585 per year

NZ$590 per year

Couple (student + 1)

NZ$1,170 per year

NZ$1,180 per year

Family (student + 2 or more)

NZ$1,460 per year

NZ$1,475 per year

Study Abroad (one semester)



Students aren’t normally required to complete any application form before the enrollment, as the Studentsafe-Insurance premium will be automatically added to the statement of fees. The fees will also provide insurance for your travel to New Zealand, provided you buy the policy at the time of enrollment.  

Student safe emergency assistance: Policy holders can reach Studentsafe in New Zealand at 0800 486 004. In the event of an emergency during a stopover or while travelling outside New Zealand, you can call +64 9 486 6868. Call charges accrued will be reimbursed by the insurance company.


Also, you must keep records and receipts of all minor loss or events so that you can make a claim once you are in New Zealand.


Among the other study abroad insurance policies that students can purchase include:

  • Uni-Care NZ Student Plan

  • Southern Cross Student Max

  • Orbit Protect Prime

While buying a study abroad insurance plan, students must ensure that it meets all the guidelines for the Code of Practice.

Dental Care: In case of dental problems, you can consult a private practitioner. But since most study abroad insurance policies in New Zealand don’t cover dental care, you have to pay out of your pocket for the treatment or go for higher-level policies.



All international students need to have basic as well as extended health insurance for the duration of their study in Canada as part of the country’s study abroad insurance guidelines. Medical treatment and services in Canada are quite high and having an insurance plan helps to offset these extravagant, and at many times unanticipated, costs. Any family member accompanying a student also needs to have similar insurance cover.


Most universities in Canada have their own preferred insurance plan for students, like University of Toronto has University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP), The University of British Columbia has Medical Services Plan (MSP) and McGill University has International Health Insurance (IHI).


UHIP is actually a compulsory health insurance plan for international students who are enrolled in an Ontario University.  The insurer of the plan is Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada. New and returning degree earning students are by default registered to UHIP for a twelfth month period of the current academic year (from September 1st to August 31st).  In case of exchange students, UHIP coverage applies to the period they are attending the university.


UHIP Charges

The yearly premium of UHIP is $684.00, and has to be paid along with the tuition fees. This means that any delay in paying college fees will ultimately result in deferment of UHIP payment as well.

 2014 – 2015 UHIP Sample Premium Rates

Number of Months of Coverage


One Dependent

(i.e., two or more dependents)





Travel Insurance: Like health insurance, travel insurance is also a basic requirement in most universities as part of their insurances for study abroad initiative. But since a study abroad insurance plan like UHIP provides only for emergency services, students are encouraged to have private insurance as back up, especially when they are travelling abroad. Some of the popular companies offering travel insurance in Canada are:

  • Travel Guard

  • Ingle International Travel Insurance

  • Travel Cuts — 187 College St. location, (416) 979-2406

  • American Express — 100 Front St. West #133, (416) 363-3883


International students need to show proof of sufficient medical coverage before they can enroll at a university or college in Germany, or at the very least they need to produce it at the start of studies. The registration process for such students who fail to produce proof of coverage will be put on hold. Students who have completed their 14th semester, though, are exempted from the mandatory health insurance.

Public Health Insurance Plan: In case students who have public study abroad insurance health plan or family health insurance plan, a proof of the same has to be submitted to the university –as a mere confirmation of coverage or copy of the insurance isn’t enough.

Private Health Insurance Plan

For those using a private health insurance plan, it has to be vetted by a public health insurance provider to ensure that you are eligible to exemption from the mandatory insurance.      


Students, who are insured in their home country, are exempt from the German health insurance requirement. Nevertheless, they are advised to get in touch with a public insurance provider in Germany and get it approved for submission to a university. Also, in the eventuality of the insurance issued at home not being recognized, students have to take out an additional insurance in Germany.


Travel Insurance

While a health insurance plan will cover most health related expenses in Germany, it doesn’t account for bills that exceed the home rate. The extra amount will not be borne by the insurance agencies, unless you are covered by travel insurance as well. So, it is advisable that students also have a basic travel insurance as well that will protect them when they are travelling home or to other countries for sightseeing or study-related matters.


Stay tuned to for more news and updates on study abroad insurance.


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