Do you need insurance for your study abroad trip?

By The Team
Published November 12, 2010

Even with the most detailed planning and best of intentions, international traveling, especially for a longer period of time, can go awry. Therefore, it’s incredibly important to plan (as much as possible) for unforeseen events. One way to plan for unforeseen events is to purchase study abroad insurance that provides you with medical, logistical, and financial support in the case of unexpected illnesses, emergencies, changes, and cancellations.

The majority of study abroad programs require you to purchase insurance prior to traveling. Study abroad programs most commonly require you to purchase international health insurance, but may also require you to buy emergency medical expense and evacuation insurance, trip-cancellation insurance, travel assistance insurance, and/or academic program insurance. You can typically purchase these types of insurance individually or as parts an all-inclusive package. While insurance plans can be expensive, whether purchased individually or as part of an all-inclusive package, they are inexpensive compared to the expenses that emergencies, unexpected changes, and cancellations can produce. Therefore, while study abroad programs may only require you to buy international health insurance, you might also want to consider purchasing other types of insurance. Again, the various types include:  

  • International health insurance: this is health insurance that typically supplements the health insurance you hold in the United States. If you don’t have health insurance, it may serve as your sole insurance while you’re studying abroad.  
  • Emergency medical expense and evacuation insurance: this is health insurance that typically covers emergency care and emergency evacuations to medical centers with higher quality or preferred medical care.  
  • Trip cancellation insurance: this is insurance that typically covers the costs of travel and program expenses when trips or program components are cancelled, changed, or delayed through no fault of your own.   
  • Travel assistance insurance: this is insurance that typically provides you with economic and logistical support in various emergency and non-emergency situations abroad.   
  • Academic program insurance: This is insurance that typically reimburses you the costs of tuition if you are involuntarily withdrawn from your studies because of circumstance out of your control. This type of insurance is also known as tuition insurance.

Each of these types of insurance can benefit you while you’re studying abroad and protect you in the event of unexpected illnesses, emergencies, changes, and/or cancellations. To discuss insurance requirements, and to determine what types of insurance might be best for you, talk to a counselor or administrator in your study abroad program. Ask them for guidance in determining how much insurance to buy and from whom.  

Also, in an effort to circumvent medical emergencies, visit your primary care physician for a physical and make visits to your dentist, gynecologist, optometrist, and other doctors prior to studying abroad. While visits to your doctors can’t necessarily prevent illnesses and medical emergencies abroad, they can at least allow you to detect any existing health problems.

Lastly, prior to studying abroad, determine what immunizations are recommended for travel to each of the locations you plan to visit. Schedule your immunizations well in advance of your travel and be sure to meet all of the requirements for multiple and time-sensitive dosages.