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Why you need medical insurance when you study abroad

Being an international student is all about new and exciting opportunities. New countries, new people, new cultures and starting a new life. However, it’s important to remember that there are still some essentials you’ll need to sort out before you head abroad – none more so than medical insurance.

Medical insurance is a legal requirement for getting a student visa in many countries, including popular destinations like New Zealand, the US, Germany, Australia and Canada. Without appropriate medical insurance, you won’t be able to get your visa and you won’t be able to study in your chosen country.

So why is medical insurance so important?

Put simply, medical treatment in many countries is not free. Without medical insurance, you run the risk of running up bills in the thousands, whether it’s for a simple broken wrist or something much more serious. Even something as minor as a chipped tooth could end up ruining your program if you do not have the right sort of medical cover.

Consequently, many border agencies make it a requirement that you have adequate medical insurance before issuing you with a visa for your graduate program. You’ll also have to provide a copy of your insurance to your host university before they accept you onto the course in full.

What needs to be covered?

Although requirements vary depending on where you want to study and where you come from, in general all good study abroad medical insurance policies will cover the following:

  • Emergency hospital treatment
  • Ambulance and emergency services cover
  • Tests and x-rays
  • Emergency evacuation/repatriation
  • Doctor/physician appointments
  • Emergency dental work

It’s important to also note what most insurers won’t cover too. For example, pre-existing medical conditions (such as diabetes or epilepsy) need to be declared before buying your policy – if the insurer finds out that you didn’t declare a pre-existing condition, they are then within their rights to refuse claims for it if you need treatment while studying abroad.

What do I do if I need to make a claim?

If you injure yourself and fall ill, you’ll need to contact your insurers. Most providers will give you a 24-hour emergency phone number that can be reached from anywhere in the world. You should use this in the event of an emergency and carry the number with you.

If you need to make a claim for a smaller issue, you should pay the amount to the doctor first then contact your insurers to fill out a claim form to get your money back.