Whether you want to enjoy a weekend in Cancun or study abroad in Scotland, traveling the world is an exciting experience. As you prepare for your trip, it is easy to get distracted by packing, signing up for classes and finding a new apartment. For you to get the most out of this experience, make sure to plan ahead and consider whether or not travel insurance is right for you.

When you go abroad, anything can happen. Depending on where you go, potential problems range from actual revolutions to pickpockets stealing your passport. If you want to relax and enjoy the experience, you should consider protecting yourself from all of the ways your trip could potentially go wrong. A comprehensive travel insurance policy protects you and your personal possessions from an unforeseen event. It also means your family members can relax with the knowledge you are protected from a potential problem.

This kind of coverage is so important that some universities even require students buy it before they study abroad. When you have travel insurance, you are protected if your trip is canceled or interrupted for any reason. Depending on the insurance plan, you can get reimbursed for different amounts of your unused travel arrangements. These plans provide medical care and liability coverage when you are abroad.

What Kind of Policies Are There?

There are a number of different policies you can choose from before you go abroad. The one that is right for you depends on what your plans are. For students, there are three options that are suitable if you are studying abroad. You can choose between single trip, annual multi-trip and backpacker policies.

Annual multi-trip is the right option if you plan on taking multiple trips over the next 12 months. It covers a maximum of 45 days of traveling during a single trip. If you plan on a studying abroad for just a few weeks and traveling during the rest of the year, this kind of coverage may be cheaper than the policies for multiple trips.

A single trip policy is for a single trip that lasts for a maximum of 87 days. You should be careful to read through the fine print before getting single trip coverage. Some single trip policies do not offer full coverage for certain countries. The policy may require you to buy a different curtailment or cancellation policy for specific trips. Since each insurer offers different policies and benefits, you should check to see what your plan actually covers before you go anywhere.

Finally, the backpacker policy works for trips lasting up to two years. If you plan on traveling for a fairly long time, this is the option you should choose. In addition to covering you while you are abroad, it will also cover you for a trip home that lasts for up to 14 days. If you decide to go on other trips while you are abroad, you can still use the policy if you are in the same geographic area.

How Much Is Travel Insurance?

The cost of travel insurance can vary greatly from one provider to another. It is also important to note that the cheapest policy is not always the best one for your needs. Often, the cheapest policy also has the lowest level of coverage. Travel insurance could be potentially paying for expensive costs like an emergency evacuation or hospital bill, so you need to buy a policy that will actually cover these high costs.

The best thing to do is shop around. Read through the policy to make sure it actually covers all of the things you need. Will it pay for your trip costs if you have to cancel it? Does it pay for medical costs if you are injured while you are studying abroad?

Cost is generally not the biggest or the best factor to use when buying travel insurance. The cheapest travel insurance policies generally have the highest excesses. The excess is the amount you have to pay if you have to file a claim. In general, a good policy will not have an excess that is higher than $100. You can also find policies that waive the excess entirely.

What Should the Policy Cover?

Picking the right policy can seem impossibly complicated because there are so many different options available. You want to find the policy that has the best value for its cost. To do this, look for a policy that only covers the things you need.

Policy Description
Curtailment and cancellation This coverage is for unexpected problems like having to return home for a sick family member. It you have to cancel your trip, curtailment coverage will help you recover prepaid costs for things like travel expenses, accommodation and university fees. For this coverage to be effective, it should have a limit that is the same as the costs of your overseas trip.
24-hour support You can never tell when an emergency will happen. You need a 24-hour hotline in case something goes wrong when you are traveling. If your insurer does not offer 24-hour support, find a different provider
Medical problems No matter how healthy you are, an accident could happen at any moment. Whether you break your leg skiing or contract a tropical illness, you need to make sure you are covered. Medical costs can be extremely expensive, but you will most likely have to pay for more than just overseas hospital bills. If you need a major surgery, you may end up spending tens of thousands of dollars on repatriation costs as well
Sports Activities Most policies cover basic sports like a game of soccer. If you want to play a more adventurous sport like skydiving or skiing, you may need to get a special policy that covers it
Personal possessions From your passport to your laptop, there are a number of personal items that are difficult to replace while you are abroad. Your insurer should cover the cost of items that are lost or stolen. This includes things like your tablet, passport or mobile device

What Do Insurance Policies Not Cover?

Before you travel anywhere, you should also make sure you are aware of what your policy does not cover. Your travel insurance will not cover the costs of drug and alcohol abuse. While many students enjoy drinking during their college years, your insurance policy will not cover injuries that happen while you are drinking. As far as your insurance is concerned, any accident that happens when you are intoxicated is your own fault. Because of this, you need to be especially careful if you do decide to drink or abstain from drinking completely.

Unfortunately, your insurance is also not going to cover the costs of pre-existing medical conditions. If you have a pre-existing ailment and do not tell your insurer, it could even invalidate the rest of your policy. Instead of risking invalidation, tell your insurer about your condition when you get your policy. Sometimes, your insurer may even add coverage for common medical problems at no cost.

Is Travel Insurance Like Credit Card Insurance Coverage?

Most students do not qualify for the best travel rewards credit cards yet. Some travel rewards credit cards offer impressive, comprehensive travel insurance for the authorized cardholder. However, this insurance only kicks in if you pay for the travel costs using your rewards card.

In general, most students do not have the credit score, income or credit history to qualify for one of these cards. If you do have a travel rewards card, make sure to read through the fine print. Your card may cover all or most of your risks abroad, but there may be limitations on how or when you can use these protections.

When Should Students Buy Travel Insurance?

Whether you decide to buy travel insurance or not is entirely up to you. In general, most students will need some form of international health insurance when they travel abroad. Even if you are in perfect health, a car or motorcycle accident can happen at anytime. You can buy health insurance on your own or through a group plan at your university.

Other than getting coverage for health insurance, you also need to have coverage for an emergency medical evacuation. Other travel insurance options are up to you. Depending on whice option you choose, you may pay anywhere between $5 to $15 per day for your insurance plan.

As a college student, you are probably traveling on a budget. This means that your travel insurance is not really necessary for covering the low cost of the trip itself. Instead, you need travel insurance to protect you from huge, unexpected costs while you are abroad. A single medical problem or evacuation can cost more than a year of tuition at a private university.

Your travel insurance is also important because it can cover missed connections. Travel rewards credit cards rarely offer coverage for a missed connection at the airport or for a cruise. By planning ahead for these kinds of problems, you can prevent major trip interruptions or problems during your trip abroad.