03 Sep 2017 16:09 IST

Carry the right insurance with you

Here are guidelines to help you choose covers that suit your needs

Come spring or fall season, many Indian students travel to foreign countries for higher education. Health insurance is mandatory for such students. But what kind of a policy does one need? Here is a low-down on the options available.

For starters, it is best to take insurance in India, particularly if you are travelling to European countries. Students do have the option of availing insurance abroad. But the cost of cover could be higher and the scope of coverage may be limited. This is especially true of developed countries.

That said, your student health insurance policy should ideally meet the insurance criteria set by the university. The criteria could be in terms of minimum sum assured or a list of must-have covers.

Check varsity specifications

“To ensure that students get access to quality healthcare services, a university could state certain criteria. It may ask for a minimum insurance of, say, $1,00,000, and also give a list of medical and non-medical expenses that need to be covered,” says Anuj Gulati, MD & CEO, Religare Health Insurance.

Keeping the criteria that your university specifies in mind, you can shop from across policies that provide medical and non-medical covers and add-on features.

While the basic cover of most insurers covers medical expenses, you can go for policies that are comprehensive and include non-medical covers such as travel-related difficulties, study interruption, sponsor cover, personal liability and emergency cash advance. Note that the features offered under the policy vary from one insurer to the other. Hence, it is best to do your homework to choose the best option.

For instance, under StarthealthStandard plan, for sum assured of $2,50,000, you get cover for emergency medical expenses, emergency transportation, personal accident, transportation of mortal remains, emergency dental expenses, loss of checked-in baggage and personal liability.

For the same sum assured under Gold plan, your cover includes the above mentioned covers along with loss of passport, bail cover, study interruption, sponsor cover and compassionate visits. The premium payment (worldwide cover) for Standard plan is ₹14,761 (including tax) while for Gold plan it is ₹17,189 (including tax).

Anand Roy, Executive director and CMO, Star Health and Allied Insurance Company Limited, believes that a sponsor cover and bail cover could be useful for students. If the sponsor passes away, the student may be left paying all the fees by himself; a bail cover too helps in case the student ends up inadvertently on the wrong side of the law.

Most of the players offer policies that extend the cover beyond the boundaries of the foreign land, that is, the insurance cover extends when the student visits India. Similarly, if a student has to extend duration of education, the policy cover can also be extended for another year or more.

Frills cost more

You can also avail additional cover such as maternity benefits, HIV cover, cover for pre-existing diseases, cancer screening and mammography examinations and emergency financial assistance. But these predominantly come as riders, hence you might have to pay extra premium.

For instance, Apollo Munich health insurance provides optional covers such as treatment for mental and nervous disorders, HIV cover and cancer screening and mammography for a sum assured of $1,000, $500 and $2,000 respectively. You need to pay additional premium of ₹5,092 in addition to base premium of policy chosen. If you choose Gold plan (worldwide) for a sum assured of $2,50,000 for instance, then you pay a base premium of ₹42,944 (excluding tax) and additional premium for rider.

Choose with care

Policies are usually divided into two categories — worldwide, including the US and Canada, and worldwide excluding the two. As it is expensive when it comes to the US and Canada, this classification can help you save on premiums if you are going elsewhere.

While a standard cover is a must, you can choose from comprehensive policies to have more protection. As far as the frills go, you can use your discretion to sign up for whatever you consider an absolute necessity.

According to Antony Jacob, Chief Executive Office, Apollo Munich Health Insurance Company, “Features such as flexibility in choosing benefits, a wide hospital network and a cover that protects the student even when he or she visits home, should be kept in mind while choosing a student travel insurance”

(The article first appeared in The Hindu BusinessLine.)