abroad? Buy health insurance first
Sree Ram R, [Publisehd in Rediff Outlook
Simran Jagdev was all set to go to the UK to pursue a Masters
in Finance Investment at the University of Nottingham. Like
all other students going abroad, she had to buy a health insurance
played smart and opted for a student medical cover in India
itself from ICICI Lombard. Apart from offering medical cover
up to $100,000, the policy took care of eight non-medical
risks, including personal liability, luggage damage, passport
loss, bail bond, and a visit by her mother from India in case
she is hospitalised.
this, Jagdev paid an annual premium of Rs 7,617."The
policy covers all important situations in which one might
need insurance," she says.
is just one of the lakhs of Indian students at universities
abroad. And universities, particularly in the Schengen (15
countries in Europe), the UK, the US and Australia, insist
that students get medical insurance, either at home or abroad.
UK, for instance, the National Health Service provides limited
cover but does not cover hospitalisation expenses; the student's
insurance has to take care of that. Jagdev recommends taking
the policy in India, where the premium works out cheaper,
"It is not practical to go abroad to study without an
insurance policy," she says."Insurance is one of
the most important criteria for the Schengen visa, and thankfully
I bought it in India."
can choose to insure themselves either in India or abroad.
Student insurance policies cost $500-900 per year in the US,
and around Australian $400 in case of Australia. The amount
can change depending on the university. The cheapest worldwide
cover offered by Indian insurers is $168-234 and the most
expensive is $355-575 per year.
policies offered by universities abroad provide only medical
cover; non-medical risks are not insured. Which is why most
students prefer to buy cover in India itself. However, some
universities insist that students take insurance policies
from them and do not accept policies taken in the home country.
Sudhir Menon, head, travel insurance and worksite marketing,
ICICI Lombard, "Universities in the US grant students
a waiver from their medical insurance policies if the policy
that the student buys is comparable to theirs."
especially from India and other developing countries, invariably
have a hand-to-mouth existence thanks to an unfavourable exchange
rate. And medical treatment in most western countries is very
expensive, often several times over what the same treatment
would cost in India.
something Mohit Garg, 23, found out the hard way. Garg left
for the US in 2005 to study structural engineering at the
University of Florida. A viral infection affected his foot
and he had to be operated upon to remove the infected part.
What would have cost him a couple of thousand rupees in India
cost him over Rs 22,000 in the US. Thankfully Garg had medical
cover, so his bills were taken care of by ICICI Lombard.
travel health insurance policies offered by Indian insurers
cover the risks right from when the student boards the flight
out of India. Hospitalisation expenses are paid even if the
insured falls sick and has to be hospitalised in some country
while on his way to the destination-country.
from paying out-patient medical expenses and hospitalisation
charges of $50,000-250,000 depending on the policy, Tata AIG
offers to bear your nearest family member's round ticket cost,
if you are hospitalised for more than seven consecutive days.
Bajaj Allianz offers to pay the costs of most direct flights
for the same. Tata AIG also offers to bear the cost of the
student's flight to India if a close relative is hospitalised
offer a bail bond of $5,000 if the student gets into trouble
with the law. Others offer to reimburse tuition fees paid
in advance if studies are interrupted due to medical or compassionate
reasons. These policies also provide sponsor protection benefit.
for most Indian students their parents are the sponsors, the
tuition fee is fully or partly contributed by them. Insurers
are offering to reimburse the remaining tuition fee in case
of death or permanent disability of the sponsor, to the extent
of $10,000, so that the student can continue with the course.
from this, insurers are offering to take on students' liability
risks, and pay up to $100,000 for any unintentional damage
caused by the student to either private or public property.
TATA AIG Student Guard has gone a step further, and offers
to cover felonious assault, where the insurer will reimburse
the loss or damage done to a student's property in case of
attacks based on racial discrimination or for any other reason.
benefits will continue to apply even when the student leaves
the university to travel to any other country on holiday.
all about low premiums and unlimited cover. Students say the
biggest problem with Indian insurers is the tedious process
of making a claim. Even though insurance companies say making
a claim is as simple as informing the third party administrator
in the host country to make cashless claims, policyholders
say in reality it's different.
who claimed for his foot treatment, had to pay all the bills
upfront and then courier the bills back to ICICI Lombard in
India. He says, "Even though they made the reimbursements
after I filed all the bills, as a student it was very difficult
to pay all the bills upfront in dollars and then file a claim."
however, say that they can do little if the policyholder does
not give them advance notice about claims. Menon says, "If
the policyholder informs us about their hospitalisation in
advance, we will make necessary arrangements with the hospital
concerned so that we can make it a cashless claim." If,
however, the student does not give advance notice, it will
take a while to settle the claim. So, the onus is on the student.
you opt to pay your bills and claim afterwards or go cashless;
whether you buy cover in India or abroad; whether you opt
for pure medical insurance or for all the add-ons, the bottomline
is that if you are a student going abroad, insurance is almost
as important as a visa. So look around to find a policy that
suits your needs, before you take that flight out.
the policy promises
Repatriation of remains
Loss of checked baggage
mentioned above are for lowest premiums.
ICICI Lombard and Cholamandalam offer only medical benefits.
TATA AIG and Bajaj Allianz offer both medical and non-medical
premiums of Indian insurers for one year
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