The 2014 – 2015 school year is off to a great start. If you’re an international student, you’ve checked just about everything off of your list and are getting ready to enjoy the new semester in a new place. One thing many students forget to consider is international student insurance coverage. If insurance was inadvertently left off of your checklist, don’t worry! You still have time to protect yourself against expensive medical costs.
Insurance coverage may or may not be mandatory for you while you are an international student. It is an important thing to have in any case, especially for students studying in the US, where medical expenses can be much higher than other places. To help you find the best insurance solution, every student should ask themselves the following questions (I’ve also provided some suggestions for quickly determining and obtaining an international student insurance plan that will work for you):
1. Does my visa require me to have insurance? In order to obtain a visa, you are sometimes required to maintain a certain level of insurance coverage in the country you will be staying. The F visa, a student visa in the US, does not require insurance coverage. However, many other types of visas do. Usually you need to show proof of this coverage during a visa interview or before you enter the country itself. However, if your old policy has expired, you’re looking for different coverage, or if you simply forgot, it’s not to late to get covered. Our Travel Medical plan meets most visa requirements around the world and is a great option for international students or even just travelers. The application is a simple, online process and you can begin your coverage the same day.
Here are some popular visas and their specific insurance requirements:
- J Visa – J visa holders are required to have insurance coverage to properly maintain their US visa privileges. Those benefits are:
- Medical Benefits of at least $50,000 per accident or illness
- Repatriation of Remains in the amount of at least $7,500
- Medical Evacuation benefit in the amount of at least $10,000
- Deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness
- A policy underwritten by an insurance carrier with:
- an AM Best rating of “A-” or above
- an Insurance Solvency International, Ltd (ISI) rating of “A-I” or above
- a Standard and Poor’s Claims Paying Ability rating of “A-” or above
- or a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of “B+” or above
The benefits required are pretty basic, so you might want to consider increasing your coverage above these minimum amounts. Our Travel Medical plan is an excellent option for J visa holders. It meets all of the minimum requirements listed above, plus more. It is also a flexible plan that allows you to choose your own deductible and overall maximum limit, so that you can get the coverage you need.
- Schengen Visa – If you’re studying in the Schengen region of Europe, you’ll need insurance coverage for your visa. The insurance requirements the the Schengen visa are:
- Medical Benefits of at least EUR €30 000 (equivalent to $50,000 USD)
- Repatriation coverage for medical reasons, urgent medical attention and/or emergency hospital treatment or death
- Coverage Period valid within the Schengen region and for the full duration of stay
Our Travel Medical plan is also a good choice for students looking to meet these benefits. If you prefer a policy administered in Europe and offering payment terms in Euros, our Europe Travel plan is a great option for you.
2. Does my school have any specific insurance requirements? Not only do governments try to ensure that international students are properly covered, most colleges, universities, and high schools require their students to maintain proper insurance coverage while they are in school. Your international advisor will probably let you know what type of coverage they want you to have. They may even offer a school-sponsored insurance plan for you. Most students find these school-sponsored plans to be very expensive compared to purchasing their own individual plan. So, most schools allow you to waive the school’s policy if you buy your own plan that meets their requirements.
Our International Student Insurance plan meets the requirements for most schools and is built with international students in mind. It is annually renewable, so you can keep it while work towards your degree. You can also purchase it for less than one year if needed. You’ll have three levels of coverage to choose from – Smart, Budget, or Select – to ensure you have the coverage you need.If you’re not sure what your US school requires for insurance, try using our School Requirements search tool to see which of our affordable plans will work for you, or give us a call and we can discuss your options.
3. What type of coverage do I need? Many unique situations may be factors when determining what insurance plan is right for you. Do you need a plan for your family? Do you need coverage in your home country? Are you changing your visa status but still need international coverage? These and other factors can change the style of plan that will be best for you.
- If you need coverage for your spouse or family, a student-focused plan is not always the way to go. If you need coverage for one year or less, our Travel Medical plan can meet your short-term needs at an affordable premium. If you need longer-term coverage, our Major Medical plan is a great option. It is annually renewable, provides four levels of coverage to choose from, and offers an affordable rate for dependents.
- Our Major Medical plan also offers a unique option for Worldwide coverage, which includes your home country (only 30 days of home country coverage for US citizens), if needed. This is a convenient option for expats that travel home often and that need comprehensive coverage around the world. US citizens returning from a study abroad or trip should look into our Short-term Insurance plan for domestic coverage.
- A visa change can also change your eligibility for certain insurance policies. For example, as soon as you are no longer a full-time international student, you no longer qualify for our International Student Insurance plan. However, there is an exception for those on OPT or CPT. Even though you are no longer a student, you are still technically maintaining a valid student visa, so you are still eligible for the International Student Insurance plan. If you are changing your student visa to a working or permanent resident visa, a major medical style plan will offer the coverage you need.
If you still have questions about which plan is best for you, let us know. We can help you find the insurance plan you need. It’s not too late!