Health Insurance Policies For Students
September 3, 2013 2 Comments
Universities abroad mostly make it mandatory for students to have medical coverage. Some universities insist on certain specific requirements such as a minimum medical sum insured, maternity expenses,coverage of mental and nervous disorders, drug and alcohol abuse and inter-collegiate sports injuries.Studying your course fee structure closely would be a good idea. It will help you ascertain whether the cost of health insurance is included in the fees. Next, you need to figure out whether your university allows you to replace this built-in cover with a health policy, that is, student cover from an Indian insurer of your choice.If the answer is yes,you’re in luck.
A student can buy student health insurance cover in India with one-third the premium he/she would have to pay for a similar cover in a foreign country. Additionally, Indian travel cover ensures that students are covered round-the-clock for all in-patient and outpatient treatments when they are abroad. This is unlike many universities who only cover students within the premises. The cover offered by some universities restricts students to a specific list of hospitals.
Buying a student cover is an easy affair. General insurers such as ICICI Lombard, Bajaj Allianz and Tata-AIG allow students to buy the cover online, circumventing the need for extensive documentation. Students can fill up the online proposal form and provide their admission, visa and other details asked for and make the payment online. This means that you can complete the process even if you have just a few days to go before you fly to your destination country. However. students have to buy the policy before they leave the country — parents or relatives cannot buy it on their behalf later. If they need to extend their stay abroad, the policy can be renewed.
So first before you buy anything, check with your university if you can buy a cover from India. If you can, shortlist Indian general insurers which offer overseas student insurance policies. Some of the companies which offer travel insurance specifically for students travelling abroad, include ICICI Lombard, Bajaj Allianz and Tata-AIG General. PSU insurers like New India Assurance and Oriental Insurance, too, sell overseas mediclaim policies. Third, check whether the insurance company or its partner has a good presence in the country of your university. Next, check what it covers and what it does not. Depending on the variant and insurer you have chosen, these policies cover in-patient hospitalization and out-patient treatment expenses, dental treatment, personal accident, checked-in baggage loss, sponsor protection and study interruption. Pre-existing diseases are usually not covered under overseas student policies. Similarly, out-patient treatment expenses may be excluded in some policies. However, you might be able to obtain a cover for dental treatment under certain high-end variants. Some policies also prescribe deductibles, that is, the initial amount of expenses (say, around $100) to be borne by the insured before the insurer pays the bills. The sum insured offered ranges from $50,000 to $5,00,000. The annual premium for a $50,000-cover (for students traveling to the US) could amount to .Rs 10,000-20,000, again, as per the product chosen.
However don’t be tempted to opt for the cheapest cover and treat health cover as just a formality. This could prove a costly mistake because treatments abroad are extremely expensive and you would find it difficult to treat them without a health cover.Typically, the sum insured universities mandate is around $2,00,000-2,50,000,This is a good level to cover to purchase,even if your university specifies nothing. Before buying a policy from an Indian insurer, check whether the benefits offered tally with your university’s requirements. The insurer will issue a letter stating that all the requirements are complied with. If the university approves of the cover chosen by you, it will waive off the requirement of buying a cover from the insurer it may have tied up with. You can download the waiver form from the university websites and submit it along with the Indian insurer’s policy document. Else, the university could ask for the same once you send the insurance documents. Some universities insist on a minimum policy duration of 365 days. Some Indian insurers offer a travel policy for up to 180 days only, but they can be renewed for an identical period. Students need to check with their university if it is willing to approve such policies.
Apart from understanding the exclusions, deductibles and sub-limits, students also need to study the claim procedure. After all, all the efforts to buy a policy will come to a naught if your claim is rejected. Generally, all in-patient treatments are made cashless for students where they do not need to pay upfront as the bills are directly settled with the hospital. For outpatient cases, if the bills are of high value, students can avail the cashless facility as well. However, most out-patient claims tend to be of smaller amount and thus students pay upfront and opt for reimbursement by providing the original bills and receipts. While making a claim, students typically face hurdles while locating a network hospital to avail of cashless facility. Principally, the challenges are around lack of knowledge or familiarity with the claims process and occasionally, the absence of network hospitals in their neighbourhood. Therefore, it makes sense to discuss the claim procedure with your insurer to avoid hassles later. Ensure you memorize or save your service provider’s claim intimation number — usually toll-free — on your cell phone. Similarly, it also makes sense to save your insurer’s helpline numbers.