Firstly, it is necessary to know whether the university makes it mandatory to purchase insurance from it
Students opting for international education must make sure they are appropriately insured to safeguard against serious financial implications. We have already seen the various eventualities against which such a policy can provide cover. However, to ensure that one is adequately covered, due heed must be given to the selection of such a policy, rather than treating it as just another paperwork.
Firstly, it is necessary to know whether the university makes it mandatory to purchase insurance from it. If that is the case, one has little choice. Some universities do not allow policies from insurance carriers outside the host country. This too limits one’s options.
Moreover, most foreign universities have certain norms and guidelines with which one`s policy must comply. Since it can be quite complicated to understand these norms and purchase a plan from a foreign carrier, many students simply buy whatever the university offers.
The result is a ‘one size fits all’ plan and the premium is often billed along with the fees. The major drawback is that such plans are usually far more expensive than a comparable one from an Indian insurer. Indian companies, typically, offer policies at about a third of the premium that is levied by foreign institutes and insurers.
Thus, for the same coverage, a student with a plan from a foreign insurer could end up paying 20-30% higher premium than one with a similar plan from a domestic insurer. Considering the substantial cost difference, one would do well to invest some effort in selecting a suitable plan from a domestic insurer, if the university rules permit.
Apart from the cost, there are various things that need to be considered while deciding on a plan. Firstly, make sure you are aware of the university guidelines. Different universities have differing criteria on the sum assured as well as type of insurance. Any plan one selects must meet the guidelines.
Next, compare the benefits offered by various plans. Standard university plans usually provide only health coverage. Domestic plans on the other hand include non-medical cover as well. In cognizance of the needs of international students, such plans provide an array of covers like lost baggage/passport; personal liability (cover provided if a student injures a person or damages property); study interruption (reimbursement of fees in case student is unable to continue education); sponsor protection (cover provided if sponsor cannot continue funding the education due to death or disability; compassionate visit (reimbursement of travel and accommodation cost for parents in case of medical emergency) etc.
One also needs to weigh add on covers which may be relevant depending on the nature of study and extracurricular activities.
Ideally, one should seek a plan which provides such benefits, apart from medical cover. Also, one must see to it that the hospital network provided by the insurer includes hospitals in the area where the campus is located. On this front, the university plan would usually score better, with a wider hospital network. The claim settlement record of the insurer is another parameter that must be considered.
Finally, one must read the fine print to determine details like the deductibles as this can have substantial financial impact in case a claim is made. Deductibles are the minimum amount that one will have to foot oneself, before the insurer contributes towards the claim. This again, can be 5 times (or more) higher for foreign insurers than for Indian ones.
Thus, one can hardly undermine the importance of making an apt selection of an insurance policy while going to study abroad. Equipped with knowledge of the various parameters one must consider while buying such a policy, it is most convenient to carry out a comparative assessment of the plans available through online portals and take an informed decision, to get maximum coverage within one’s budget.