Insuring your Student for a Semester Abroad

The spring college semester is only a few months away and many college students are finalizing plans to study abroad. Smart parents also are making plans to protect their traveling student while he or she is out of the country. Travel insurance can be a real aid to students traveling abroad. It gives them the confidence to go “Conquer the World” knowing they have coverage and a support hotline to help them in a pinch.  All our policies include  24/7 hotline support to provide them assistance if they lose their passport, need to find an embassy, or need help finding a doctor, and a translator to help them communicate their needs.   Many college plans include medical coverage during the program, but often may not include medical evacuation to help get your student home in the event of a medical emergency.    Getting travel insurance to cover the non-refundable trip costs is a smart idea.  If your student gets ill, and cannot take the trip, you will be covered.   Cancel for Any Reason coverage can also help you deal with a situation where the student just decides they don’t want to take the trip.   Here are two additional coverage areas to consider when sending your student abroad:

Portable electronics: A laptop computer and an iPhone are a critical lifeline for a student in a foreign country.   My own daughter spent a semester in Spain and fretted over whether she would have an internet connection to Skype with friends, and connect with us.  Our close friends sent their daughter over to Senegal.  Her laptop was stolen by the host family’s housekeeper and they had to FedEx a replacement computer to her so she could finish her work and communicate home.   Your student will probably be traveling with a laptop computer, a smartphone, and perhaps an expensive digital camera. These portable electronics can be hard to protect, especially when traveling in foreign countries. Travel insurance can provide some protection against lost or stolen luggage, but portable electronics fall under a different category and generally aren’t covered. Portable electronics are considered high risk so many travel insurance policies won’t cover theft or damage to personal electronics while traveling.

TripInsurance.com has just signed an agreement with Worth Avenue Group to provide insurance for portable electronics. This coverage is ideal for college students, whether they are traveling abroad or just away at college. It offers a full 12 months of protection against loss, breakage, and theft. If your student loses a device (i.e. drops his phone in a river but can produce the damaged device or prove he didn’t leave it on a bus or lose it through carelessness), then the insurance will pay to replace it, minus a $50 deductible. And if he or she breaks a device, such as a broken cell phone or iPad screen or a dropped laptop, then the device is covered for the cost to repair or replace it. And if the device is stolen it’s also covered, assuming they file a police report as proof of the theft. This kind of comprehensive coverage makes a lot of sense for anyone who relies on their computer or smartphone while traveling.

Medical insurance: Make sure your student is covered for both medical expense and medical evacuation while abroad.  Check the details of the exchange program to see if they provide any level of coverage.  Depending on the length of your student’s semester abroad, you may want to consider a supplementary insurance plan. Domestic medical insurance plans rarely provide coverage outside the United States, and if your student is abroad for no more than 90 days, most travel insurance packages offer medical coverage that will pay for any medical expenses. However, if the semester abroad is more than 90 days, you might consider a longer term travel medical insurance plan.  Make sure they have emergency medical evacuation coverage that can get them home if they have a more extensive medical emergency.  A medical emergency evacuation could cost as much as $100,000.

The right kind of travel insurance provides peace of mind. When you send your student on an extended trip, be sure they have right insurance coverage, and read the terms of the policy to make sure you get any additional coverage that might be advisable. You’ll rest a little easier while your student is away from home.  And when you take your trip to go visit them in the middle of their semester abroad, don’t forget to get travel insurance coverage for your trip.  You never know when you might need it.