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International Student Insurance

If you are planning to study abroad, one of the most important things you will do is to select the right insurance coverage. For many of you this is something you have never had to deal with as either your parents would take care of this, or your home country has a nationalized health care system. In the USA, this is very different!

The health care system in the USA can be very complicated and daunting - however if you have the right health insurance in place it can be one less thing to worry about. Below, I have outlined some questions you need to ask yourself when looking at international health/ travel insurance to make sure you are getting the right plan for YOU!

Firstly, the most important questions:

How long will you be going for?
This is the first question you will have to ask yourself as the length of time you will be away impacts what your needs will be in terms of an international insurance plan. For example if you are traveling for only 2/3 weeks, then a simple single travel policy with $25,000 to $50,000 in coverage will be applicable, however if you are traveling for over 6 months this type of plan would not be the best option.

Where are you going?
The more remote the locations the more importance you should place on features like Emergency Evacuation and Air Ambulance coverage. Conversely, a visitor to Northern parts of Europe or North America should be more interested in the maximum benefits for hospitalization and medical expenses, as evacuation would be a less likely course of treatment.

What features will you need?
You will have to carefully evaluate what features you will need. Some questions to ask are:

  • Does the plan allow monthly payment options?
  • Can I renew the plan or purchase more coverage if I need to?
  • Is there assistance if I need it?
  • What provider/ doctor can I visit?

Once you have answered these questions, you will need to know what benefits and policy provisions to look for in a travel medical plan.

Short trips (2 weeks or less)
Assuming you have solid coverage at home you may only need a small supplemental plan, with features like emergency evacuation and 24 hour worldwide assistance; along with a medical benefit of between $25,000 t0 $50,000. These plans are readily available and may include lost luggage and trip cancellation protection too. Be wary of plans that require you to settle all bills yourself and then seek reimbursement when you return home. If you are looking for plan, be sure to ask that direct payment can be made to providers - this will make things much easier on you!

Suggested plan:
Patriot International for US Citizens -
Patriot America for non-US Citizens

Intermediate trips (2 weeks to 6 months)
The longer you are away the more importance you should start to place on medical benefits. In addition to a higher emergency evacuation benefit, your plan should cover between $100,000 to $1 million in medical expenses. Other features to look for include coverage for a family member to come to your assistance if you are hospitalized in a foreign country, and an option to include "hazardous activities" such as scuba diving, skiing and bungee jumping.

Suggested plan:
Patriot International for US Citizens
Patriot America for non-US Citizens
ExPatriot Plus for all Citizens

Longer trips (6 months or more)
The insurance you purchase will most likely be your primary or only health insurance when abroad. For this reason you will want to be sure your plan includes all of the above, with higher maximum benefits ($1 million or more) as well as some provision for coverage when you return home. If you spend a year abroad but return home for a vacation, make sure you are still covered.

Suggested Plan:
ExPatriot Plus for all Citizens

Annual Plans
If you are going to be away for a few years, you will want to look into getting a major medical insurance plan. This type of coverage contains all the benefits of a travel medical plan plus many more advanced features such as transplant coverage, maternity and mental health coverage. You also have the benefit that once you are accepted you can maintain coverage year after year simply by paying the premium. Most importantly, you are covered for medical treatment anywhere in the world. Please note however that these plans are medically underwritten and people with prior health problems may have trouble obtaining coverage.

Suggested Plans:
Global Medical Insurance for all Citizens
Global Basic Insurance for all Citizens

All of the plan types discussed above share some common features; you will normally have a deductible and coinsurance to meet, and pre existing conditions are usually excluded (except for the annual plans). Worldwide assistance is sometimes done by the plan administrator, or through an independent assistance company.

Doing a little research before you depart can mean security and peace of mind while you are away, and allow you to concentrate on the exciting and fulfilling adventure that international education can be!

Ross Mason
Head Insurance Agent

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