When it comes to studying abroad, there’s a lot you have to do to prepare, like obtaining your passport and visa, making your living and travel arrangements, and scheduling your classes. But in all the chaos of planning, there’s one item that should never be overlooked: study abroad health insurance.
“I can’t stress enough how important having quality insurance is when studying abroad. I once had to make a trip to an international hospital in Beijing, and the cost for the visit plus my medication combined was over $200 – the equivalent of my round trip ticket to Shanghai. – Nate Nault, The Study Abroad Blog
4 Reasons to Consider Study Abroad Health Insurance
1. Your school or program may require you to have it.
You likely have domestic health insurance that covers you in your home country, but oftentimes these home country plans do not cover international travel. That’s why most study abroad programs and schools require participants to purchase international student health insurance prior to departure.
Many universities offer their own student health plans, though your university may allow you to waive its school-sponsored coverage if you can provide proof of coverage that still meets its requirements.
2. It may be required for your visa.
Most countries require incoming students to possess a visa for study abroad, and some visas require study abroad insurance that meets specific requirements. One such visa is the J-1 visa for incoming exchange students to the USA.
3. Accidents and illnesses can happen unexpectedly – and even food poisoning or a sprained ankle could require medical attention.
When you travel abroad, you may be engaging in unfamiliar activities, trying new foods, and adjusting to a new time zone – all of which could make you more susceptible to illness or injury.
And whereas traveling abroad without insurance could result in costly expenses for unanticipated medical treatment, an international student health plan can provide you with access to quality medical care and coverage when you need it most.
4. Study abroad insurance can provide assistance when you don’t know where to turn.
Say you’re experiencing a health issue and you need to see a doctor, but you’re unfamiliar with the healthcare system in your host country and don’t know where to go. Or you’ve lost your passport and you aren’t sure how to replace it. Many student health policies offer multilingual travel assistance services to help you out in situations like these.
How to Choose the Best Study Abroad Health Insurance Policy
Before you settle on a student health policy for your study abroad experience, ask yourself:
1. Did I check with my domestic insurance provider to see whether or not I have health coverage outside of my home country? Do I know the limits of my coverage?
If you have international coverage, but it is very limited, then you may still want to consider supplemental health insurance to meet your needs or the requirements of your school, program, or visa.
2. Does the plan meet my school, program, and/or visa requirements?
As noted above, you may be required to meet certain standards of coverage when it comes to choosing your study abroad insurance plan. For example, J-1 visa insurance requirements mandate the following:
- Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness
- Repatriation of remains in the amount of at least $25,000
- Expenses associated with the medical evacuation and the return of the exchange visitor to his or her home country in the amount of at least $50,000
- A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness
All StudentSecure® plans from Tokio Marine HCC – MIS Group meet J-1 visa requirements, as well as the requirements of many schools. Plus, when you purchase a StudentSecure plan, you can request that a student waiver form and visa letter be completed and sent to your university as proof of coverage.
You also have the option to download your visa letter through the Student Zone, which allows you to conveniently manage your StudentSecure policy online.
3. Does the plan meet my needs?
When choosing a plan, make sure you’ve considered all of your priorities. Maybe you plan to participate in intramural sports and you need sports coverage. Or maybe you’ve heard how important it is to have an Emergency Medical Evacuation benefit of at least $50,000.
Be sure to determine what you’re looking for in terms of overall maximum coverage and per-benefit coverage, as well. If you’re not sure how to go about this, visit How to Choose the Best Travel Medical Insurance for helpful tips!
4. Does the plan cost align with my budget?
There are many budget-friendly options for study abroad insurance. For example, StudentSecure offers four different policies so you can choose the one which best aligns with your needs and finances. Plus, you can save money by paying your full premium in advance!
5. Are there limits on which doctors and hospitals I can go to?
Be sure to note whether your plan restricts the doctors you can see and the hospitals you can visit. While our StudentSecure plans place no restrictions on providers and facilities, students traveling within the U.S. must obtain medical treatment from a physician/treatment center within our Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) for the lower deductible and to receive in-network coinsurance.
See the U.S. provider network or access our international provider search engine on our "Find a Doctor" page.
6. Will I have access to help and assistance?
A quality plan should provide access to travel assistance services or an emergency hotline that can direct you to a local medical facility, consulate, or legal professional; assist you with lost or stolen travel documents; and more.
When you purchase a StudentSecure policy, you will gain access to our World Service Center, which provides multilingual assistance 365 days a year. Assistant services include:
- Lost passport and travel documents assistance
- Tracking for lost luggage
- Assistance with emergency cash transfers
- Consulate, legal, and provider referrals
- Medial monitoring
7. Do I understand the limitations and exclusions of my policy?
The best way to avoid frustration is to ensure you understand your policy before you try to use it. Read through your Description of Coverage, paying special attention to the benefits and exclusions. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to call your insurance company and ask.
See the Description of Coverage for StudentSecure policies.
StudentSecure Offers Budget-Friendly Options
Our series of StudentSecure health insurance policies provides medical coverage and travel assistance to full-time students and scholars enrolled abroad. With four levels of coverage to choose from, you can almost certainly find a plan that fits your needs and budget.
- StudentSecure Elite: With a maximum medical benefit of $5,000,000, this plan offers the highest maximum coverage amounts, the lowest deductible, and *pre-existing condition coverage after the policy is in effect for 6 months.
- StudentSecure Select: This plan offers $600,000 in maximum medical coverage and *pre-existing condition coverage after the policy is in effect for 6 months.
- StudentSecure Budget: Offering a maximum medical benefit of $500,000, this plan provides mid-level benefits, a mid-level deductible, and *pre-existing condition coverage after the policy is in effect for 12 months.
- StudentSecure Smart: Designed for students with a more limited budget, this plan offers a $200,000 maximum medical benefit and the lowest premium. Pre-existing condition coverage is offered only for the **acute onset of a pre-existing condition.
All four StudentSecure plans meet J-1 visa requirements as well as the requirements of many schools. Plus, you can choose a monthly payment option – or save money by paying your full premium in advance!
No matter which StudentSecure plan you choose, you’ll get:
- Medical benefits for covered injuries and illnesses
- Emergency Medical Evacuation benefit
- Some outpatient prescription drug coverage
- Some mental health coverage
- U.S. PPO network and access to our international provider search engine
- Multilingual travel assistance services
See the full list of StudentSecure benefits & exclusions here.
Not sure what you need?
We can help you decide. Just give us a call!
- Study Abroad Hub
- International Student Health Insurance
- StudentSecure Insurance
- F1 Visa Insurance
- High School Study Abroad Medical Insurance
- International Student Financial Aid
*A pre-existing condition is any condition:
- for which medical advice, diagnosis, care, or treatment was recommended or received within 2 years prior to your effective date of coverage
- which would cause a reasonably prudent person to seek medical advice, diagnosis, care, or treatment within 2 years prior to your effective date of coverage
- that existed (with reasonable medical certainty) 2 years prior to your effective date of coverage, whether or not it was known to you
**The acute onset of a pre-existing condition means a sudden and unexpected outbreak or recurrence of a pre-existing condition which occurs spontaneously and without advance warning in the form of physician recommendations or symptoms, is of short duration, is rapidly progressive, and requires urgent care.
The acute onset of a pre-existing condition must occur after the effective date of the policy. Treatment must be obtained within 24 hours of the sudden and unexpected outbreak or recurrence. Chronic or congenital conditions or pre-existing conditions that gradually become worse over time will not be considered acute onset.
Tokio Marine HCC - MIS Group international insurance products are underwritten by Lloyd's. Tokio Marine HCC - Medical Insurance Services Group (MIS Group) is a service company and a member of the Tokio Marine HCC group of companies. Tokio Marine HCC - MIS Group has authority to enter into contracts of insurance on behalf of the Lloyd's underwriting members of Lloyd's Syndicate 4141, which is managed by HCC Underwriting Agency Ltd.