After completing the lengthy and tedious task of obtaining an admission to a foreign School or University for higher studies, sometimes a very important issue of a suitable health insurance for the student is overlooked. Saloni was to join her Australian University shortly, but she knew the need for a relevant student insurance policy and decided to leave no stone unturned till she got the right health insurance policy that she was looking for.
Students travelling to some countries have no choice as it is mandatory to come equipped with a health cover. However, there are other countries where it is optional and the choice is left to the student or parents. Remember, you actually have no choice when it comes to obtaining a health insurance. You just cannot take the huge risk of facing exorbitant medical bills in a foreign country. Students studying in the US or in the Schengen countries have to take a health insurance compulsorily. However, in countries like Australia, UK and in the S.E. Asian countries, it is optional.
There are some Universities that insist on providing their own form of medical insurance. However, in some cases, they may accept an insurance policy from a foreign source that maintains the strict norms set out by them. In case an Indian Insurance company does not meet their expectations, then there is no option but to buy one directly from them.
There are other countries where it is mandatory to buy a health insurance cover from insurance companies in the country itself and ask the Universities to provide the relevant forms for the insurance with the other application forms. It is on account of the strict guidelines laid down by the foreign Universities that many students prefer to acquire a health insurance cover from the University directly and the premium amount is included in the annual fees. However, most Indian students do not know that there are several domestic insurance companies that provide international cover for students going abroad and simultaneously meet all the requirements of the Foreign Universities. Besides, the difference in premium charges is almost one-third of what is paid in a western University.
There is another factor that must be considered carefully. The University health plans are strictly for health reasons, whereas, the Indian Insurance companies offer additional benefits in the form oftravel plans that cover the cost of lost passport and baggage and “Compassionate Cost” which assists parents to visit their child in case of serious health issues and hospitalisation and reimburse the fees payable during this period of hospitalization. They also provide a “Sponsor Protection Cover”, wherein they refund the tuition fees paid in the case of the death of the person paying for this education.
There are several other sops that Indian insurers can offer which can vary from company to company. A deep understanding of one’s specific requirement is essential before choosing the plan and the insuring company.
Comparative rates of a student insurance policy paid to an American University directly as compared to the cost of acquiring a similar loan with a higher sum of protection.
|Country||Sum Insured in Foreign Currency||Premium paid in Foreign Currency annually||Premium Paid in Indian Rupees and the amount insured for|
|USA||$ 300,000||$2157 or Rs. 1,30,000||46,851 for amount of US $500,000|
|China||N.A||600 CNY or Rs. 6000||Rs. 7,500|
As on Feb 2014
These premiums are for a basic plan for a 25 year old student and can vary according to the different plans on offer. Besides, it is advisable to look at other advantages as well instead of only the cost factor.
- It is important that a cashless facility is made available as the student is in a foreign country with limited resources.
- The institute that will provide medical assistance is located as close to the University as possible.
- The claim settlement procedures must be hassle free and quick
- The past track record of the Insuring Company in meeting their obligations should be good.
- The sub-limits and other deductibles is another important aspect to consider. An American University like the Colombia University employ a deductible amount of US $500 or approximately Rs. 30,000, whereas the Indian Insuring companies generally have an amount of US $100 as a deductible or about Rs. 6000. To elaborate, in case a student runs up a medical bill of US $ 2000, the University will only compensate for US $ 1500, unlike the Indian Insurer who make good up to US $ 1900.
- The foreign University will only cover the health side of it. On the other hand, the domestic insurers include a travel and a compassionate plan as well.
It is strongly recommended that every student and parent weigh all the pros and cons of a Student health insurance plan.