Since the turn of the millennium, the number of US students studying abroad has nearly doubled. Each and every year, almost 300,000 American students will get credit for spending a semester or two studying in another country.
With so many schools offering study abroad programs and touting them as a great way to see the world and learn more about about a new country, US students are more likely than ever to opt for a tour of study beyond US borders. You might be one of them!
But not all of the students studying abroad opt to carry insurance when they jet off out of the country.
Here’s why you should think twice about going abroad without study abroad insurance.
You Might Be Required to Have It
Some study abroad programs for US students require medical insurance before you leave the country. That’s a good thing—study abroad coverage is typically very affordable, and it’s important to have insurance. It’s also a possibility that your destination country requires that you already have insurance up to certain levels of coverage.
Your school wants to be sure you’re safe should anything happen while you’re studying somewhere else. It gives you peace of mind as well, knowing that you’re covered if something should happen.
Something Could Happen
Most students like to think they’re invincible—or at least that nothing bad will happen to them while they’re traveling and studying beyond US borders. While it may be true that most accidents happen close to home, that doesn’t mean something can’t and won’t happen to you while you’re on your study abroad program. If you’re involved in an accident, even something as simple as spraining your ankle, you may need medical attention.
You may not even be in an accident! Just think about how often you’ve come down with a cold or the flu, especially right around exam time. Students studying abroad are still prone to becoming ill, and you may need to see a doctor if you do end up with a nasty cough or require medication.
You May Be Required to Pay
Many countries have state-sponsored healthcare systems, which sometimes leads US students to believe they can receive “free” healthcare in the country in which they’re studying. Chances are, though, that as a non-citizen who doesn’t pay taxes, you’ll be required to pay out-of-pocket for any medical services you receive while you study abroad.
Study abroad insurance provides you with coverage to help avoid such out-of-pocket costs in the event you need medical attention.
It Goes Beyond Medical
Travel has inherent risks. Think about all those stories of people who have lost their luggage at an airport or those who were pickpocketed in Rome or London and lost their ID, including their passports. Study abroad insurance can help protect you against these common travel risks.
Study abroad insurance can also help you if your trip is interrupted or cancelled. Some plans will also include provisions for emergency evacuation services if there is a natural disaster or political and social unrest in the country in which you choose to study.
While not every destination carries those risks, they are certainly things to think about when you consider whether or not you need study abroad insurance.
Get Help When You Need It
There is almost nothing more terrifying than being involved in an emergency situation and not knowing where to turn. Whether your emergency is of a medical nature or the result of a natural disaster, study abroad insurance policies usually include assistance services that provide US students with the help they need when they need it the most.
Whether it’s communicating with a medical provider in another language, helping direct you to quality medical services, or organizing evacuation services for you, study abroad insurance will make sure that you have access to support when you need it the most.
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.