Travel Insurance for Students Studying Abroad: Key Coverage Options


Ru Chen

- Updated July 8, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Travel insurance can protect students who plan on studying abroad
  • Medical costs, trip delays, and stolen luggage are included in travel insurance plans
  • Insurance can mitigate risks that campuses cannot help you avoid
Travel Insurance for Students Studying Abroad: Key Coverage Options

Study abroad programs are exciting, opening up incredible opportunities for both personal and academic growth. However, traveling abroad comes with challenges and risks. Language barriers, unfamiliar healthcare systems, and emergencies can result in trip cancellations or heavy financial strain.

The right insurance policy can protect you from financial problems while studying in a host country. Let’s go over essential coverage options for students studying abroad.


Medical and Health Coverage

It’s crucial to have health insurance while doing a study abroad program. Unexpected medical expenses can cost thousands of dollars, and prolonged treatment costs can quickly overwhelm a student’s financial stability.

Here are travel insurance options that provide medical and health coverage.

Comprehensive health insurance

Unforeseen injuries and accidental illnesses can be expensive to deal with for students studying abroad. Most travel health insurance plans cover hospitalization, doctor visits, and other emergency medical expenses. Comprehensive travel health insurance will cover a wide range of medical needs and expenses.

Note that most travel health insurance policies do not cover psychological conditions by default. If you want mental health insurance coverage for travel, beware of the policy exclusions.

Coverage for mental health services

Students should make sure they’re aware of whether their insurance covers mental health services. The standard travel insurance plan excludes expenses that arise from mental health conditions, such as anxiety, panic attacks, and depression.

It’s a good idea to specifically search for plans that include mental and psychological health coverage. Studying abroad is a valuable experience, but it can also be a stressful one. A new environment adds new stressors to students.

Emergency Medical Evacuation and Repatriation

Emergency medical evacuation insurance covers the cost of transporting you to a medical facility. If you are too far from your campus or a hospital, air ambulances can cost over $100,000 depending on the country and location.

Repatriation coverage

It may be worth considering repatriation insurance that covers the fees of transporting remains in case of death. It may also cover the cost of transporting a family member to a student’s location.

Trip Cancellation and Interruption

If your trip gets canceled, trip cancellation insurance can reimburse you for a portion or all of your prepaid, nonrefundable trip expenses. It provides coverage in case an illness, family emergency, or other unforeseen event prevents you from taking on your study abroad program.

Trip interruption insurance could also help cover the extra expenses if you need to return home early due to covered reasons.


Baggage and Personal Belongings Coverage

Baggage insurance is a good idea since it can cover lost, stolen, and damaged baggage – including study materials, smartphones, and laptops. Being stuck abroad without your electronic devices can be a huge headache. Having travel baggage insurance can help you replace your lost personal items more easily.

Baggage insurance typically comes with a coverage limit of around $500 per item and $3000 per person. Even if a common carrier is required to reimburse you for a certain amount due to lost baggage, this reimbursement may not be reliable or complete.

Personal Liability Coverage

Liability insurance could be a good idea if a student is worried about accidentally injuring someone else or damaging another’s property. Buying a personal liability insurance policy can help you with potential lawsuits while you’re traveling abroad.

The average personal injury settlement is around $55,000. This means that if you are potentially liable for damages to someone else, personal liability insurance can help you with a significant portion of your expenses.

Travel Delay Coverage

Preparing for a study abroad program includes thinking about lodging, transportation and other prepaid expenses. While universities generally cover housing and other expenses if you are paying tuition and enrolled in an official study abroad program, students studying abroad without this support need to pay more out-of-pocket.

If your trip gets delayed, all of the nonrefundable, prepaid expenses can mean a hefty drain on your finances. This could even hurt your ability to book another trip to study abroad.

Extended stay coverage

If you end up staying longer in a certain location due to covered delay reasons, travel delay insurance can be a big help. Trip delay insurance typically covers missed connections and unexpected delays, such as if inclement weather causes planes to be grounded.

Coverage for Pre-existing Conditions

When it comes to travel insurance, coverage for pre-existing conditions can be tricky to understand. Pre-existing medical conditions are excluded from standard travel health insurance. For example, complications related to asthma would not be covered by the policy.

However, it is still possible to obtain coverage for pre-existing conditions. Follow the travel insurer’s instructions to see how to get coverage.

Regardless of whether pre-existing conditions are covered by your insurance policy, it is a good idea to disclose your medical history as requested by the insurer. This is because a lack of full disclosure could lead to your health insurance claim getting rejected later down the line due to a pre-existing condition.

Optional Add-Ons

Optional insurance add-ons and endorsements can help you if you have any additional safety concerns or needs. Here are some specialized insurance policies that can help you better protect yourself while studying abroad.

Adventure sports coverage

Other than focusing on academic studies in the new location, students can also benefit from trying out fun local events. Adventure sports include scuba diving, white water rafting, bungee jumping, and other exciting activities. However, these adventure sports will only be covered by insurance if you obtain an adventure sports insurance add-on.

With adventure sports coverage, your medical expenses related to designated high-risk activities can be covered by the travel insurance policy. Students who plan to participate in high-risk activities are greatly recommended to obtain adventure sports insurance coverage.

Study interruptions and tuition reimbursement insurance

Tuition refund insurance could be a good choice if you feel uncertain about the high costs of tuition. Make sure you purchase a tuition refund insurance policy that applies to studying in your country, as well as your grade (e.g. K-12 or college).

Tuition refund insurance policies may cover:

  • Medically necessary withdrawals
  • Death of a tuition payer
  • Accidental death of a student

Rental car insurance

While studying abroad, you might want to rent a car for specific purposes and convenience. By purchasing a rental car collision insurance plan, you can protect yourself in case the rental car gets damaged during an accident.

Additional Considerations for Students Studying Abroad

Evaluating Host Country’s Healthcare System

Whether you need health insurance while studying abroad will depend on your host country’s healthcare system. If your host country’s healthcare system is expensive or difficult to obtain, you might want to purchase travel health insurance. This can help you ensure you have adequate medical coverage even when studying abroad.

Duration and Flexibility of Coverage

Students should evaluate how long they want to be insured. The coverage period should ideally cover the entire duration of your study program. That way, you won’t have to worry about being unprotected.

If you want to keep your options open, you can opt for an insurance provider that offers features for extending or modifying coverage as needed.

Understanding Policy Terms and Conditions

Students should carefully read the insurance policy terms and conditions, including the fine print and policy exclusions. Exclusions will not be covered by your insurance policy.

For example, your travel interruption insurance might cover extreme weather events. However, the exclusion might say that if a hurricane has been named or the storm has been forecast, insurance will not count this as a covered reason for cancellation.

Another common exclusion is pre-existing health conditions. If you need treatment in your host country for a health condition you have already received a diagnosis for prior to travel, it will likely not be covered.

Even Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) insurance can have terms and conditions. Travelers are usually required to notify the insurer of the cancellation at least 48 hours before the trip departure date

If you have any doubts regarding insurance coverage, reach out to your insurance provider. They can help clarify your confusion.

Seeking Recommendations and Reviews

When it comes to obtaining insurance, recommendations and reviews from other students can save you a lot of headache. Read online reviews and testimonials or reach out to people you know who have also studied abroad. Ask them for advice and insight into what insurance policies they took out for your host country.

The more information you have, the better you can make an informed decision for yourself.

Tips for Choosing the Right Travel Insurance

Assessing Personal Needs and Preferences

Your personal needs and preferences should be a priority when buying travel insurance. Do you have any specific risks, such as health conditions? Are you interested in high-risk, adventurous activities while studying abroad, such as mountain climbing?

Determine what specific coverage requirements you absolutely want, and which elements are preferred but not mandatory. This can give you an easier time deciding on travel insurance policies.

Comparing Insurance Providers and Policies

Don’t settle for the first travel insurance provider you find. Students should take the time to research different insurance providers. Compare your coverage options, costs, and benefits to make a suitable decision for your study abroad.

Consulting with Insurance Specialists

Chatting with a travel insurance expert can help you find suitable coverage more quickly and easily. Tell your specialist what trip you’re planning and they can give personalized travel insurance advice.

Considering Comprehensive Plans

Comprehensive travel insurance plans bundle together several coverage types that are generally useful for those traveling internationally. These plans cover travel cancellation, delays, urgent health expenses, and other travel-related incidents.

The downside to only picking a comprehensive travel plan is that it may have gaps in coverage that lead you to be financially vulnerable while traveling abroad. Thoroughly read the fine print of any travel insurance plan before purchase.


Real-World Scenarios and Case Studies

Case Study: Medical Emergency Abroad

An art student studying in Paris started feeling sick, but was uncertain about what to do next. Fortunately, they had travel health insurance with a 24/7 emergency assistance hotline. The hotline advised them to get a check-up at the hospital. The resulting hospital stay expenses were mostly covered by the travel health insurance policy, helping the student save money on the international health care.

Case Study: Lost Baggage

A tech student bought a shiny new laptop and a stack of textbooks for their study abroad. Shockingly, their airline lost their baggage en route. The student didn’t have any travel insurance and had no proof of what belongings they carried. Based on airline regulations, the airline only refunded around $1,500 for the lost baggage. This ended up in a financial loss for the student.

Case Study: Trip Interruption

A student heading to China planned to stay for a semester of academic study. Unfortunately, before they went on their trip, there was a death in the family. This led the student to cancel their trip. Their comprehensive travel insurance policy covered this cancellation, allowing them to refund 90% of their prepaid trip expenses, relieving them of this stressor during the difficult times.


Students should consider travel insurance when studying abroad. Insurance can cover:

  • Medical costs
  • Trip cancellations
  • Lost and stolen baggage
  • Travel delays

With the right travel insurance, you won’t need to worry about long layovers that cost you extra money or emergency medical bills that are expensive in your host country. Insurance add-ons like adventure sports coverage can also protect you financially while you’re exploring a new land.

Make sure to compare different insurers for competitive coverage options. Select the right travel insurance based on your individual needs. Here are some of the best travel insurance companies of 2024.

About The Author

Ru Chen

Ru Chen

Content Writer

Ru Chen is a content writer with several years of experience in creating engaging and well-researched articles. She mostly writes about insurance, business, digital marketing, and law. In her free time, she can be found watching horror movies and playing board games with her partner in Brooklyn.

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