You’re a student thinking about study abroad opportunities, or maybe you’re already enrolled. Maybe you’re a parent whose child is about to embark on a semester abroad. Or maybe you’re a school administrator trying to decide whether your institution should offer health insurance to students enrolled in your study abroad programs.
Whatever the reason, you want to know why study abroad students need health insurance. It turns out that there are a number of good reasons for students to have health insurance when they study abroad.
Accidents Will Happen
Students often don’t think about getting sick or being involved in an accident when they sign up to study abroad.
In all truth, nobody ever signs up for insurance because they believe they’re going to get sick or be involved in an accident. Instead, insurance protects you from the “what if” scenarios. Study abroad students can get sick or hurt, just like anyone else, and health insurance helps protect them.
Students Get Sick
School administrators and students alike know how frequently students get sick throughout the semester. Living in close quarters, late nights, and the stress of exams can take their toll on students’ immune systems. It’s likely that a student may get sick sometime during the school year.
That doesn’t change when students travel abroad. In fact, they might be even more likely to get sick, since their new environment may expose them to new germs. There is also stress added from attending a new school in a different country. Health insurance can be a tool to help protect them if they do become ill.
Domestic Plans Don’t Go Far Enough
You may think you don’t need to purchase additional insurance for studying abroad. Maybe you have coverage under a parent’s insurance plan, or maybe you already have health insurance through your school, which covers you in the US. The situation changes once you leave US soil, however. Most plans don’t provide coverage for extended stays outside of the US, which means you may be covered for only a very short portion of your study abroad program (e.g. for a week or two), or you may not be covered at all.
Worse, the plans that do offer coverage often have only minimal coverage for medical service outside of the US. Even if you do think you have coverage, you may need to wrangle with the insurance provider. Given all of that, it’s better to purchase a study abroad plan so you know you’re covered!
Built-in Travel Insurance
Study abroad students are also traveling, so they also encounter plenty of problems associated with that: lost luggage, delayed or canceled trips, and so on. Many health insurance programs for study abroad students also include built-in travel insurance, which means the protection can go further than a standard medical plan.
You may already have a domestic plan in place, but what are the support services? Can you call from anywhere in the world and get help 24/7? What happens if you need to speak to a medical provider who speaks a foreign language?
Domestic plans often have great support services when it comes to services provided in the US, but they may be fish out of water when it comes to dealing with study abroad students who need assistance.
Getting a health insurance plan designed specifically for study abroad students will offer the support that these students are likely to need. That includes benefits like emergency evacuation and repatriation, which would not be included in a domestic plan.
Studying abroad is an amazing opportunity, and students should take advantage of these programs. They should be able to do so with peace of mind, knowing they have the insurance coverage they need while they’re abroad.
Author: Erin Caswell
Erin is Assistant Vice President of LewerMark Student Insurance division. Erin has a degree in Education and worked as an instructor before joining LewerMark more than six years ago.