by Jon Sender | Back to Guide
Emergency medical and evacuation insurance is a must for going abroad. You hope to never use it, but you could be screwed without it. The good news, however, is that you’re probably already covered under your university’s policy, which is valid for any “academic-related business.” All you need to do is check with your study abroad office and ask for a copy of the policy. It’s good to have this on hand, and you may even need it for your student visa application.
Essentially, what this means is that you’re covered as long as you’re on your program and in your main country. But if you stay after your program ends, or if you take a trip elsewhere, your insurance will no longer cover you. In which case, you have two options: either call your home insurance provider and see what their policy is for out-of-country claims, or buy your own plan for the duration of any personal, non-academic travel. I recommend the latter, simply because if something happens, most US providers only cover emergency room visits, prefer to make you pay up front first, and will only reimburse you after all documents have been translated to English.
I recommend getting a Patriot Travel plan by IMG Global, which you can purchase once you know when you’ll be flying around from country to country. For six months, this costs a few hundred dollars, but you can purchase a shorter plan for much less. You can also check out plans by Cigna, Aetna, and other providers.
If you’re going to a highly volatile country where politics are unstable or where terrorist attacks tend to happen, I recommend purchasing cancellation insurance, should anything happen and force you—God forbid—to postpone or cancel your trip. My friend told me a story about someone he knew, whose trip to Egypt was ruined by the onset of the Arab Spring, and just a few months before my own trip to Israel, Jerusalem was dealing with a wave of stabbings. Much of this died down before I flew out, but purchasing cancellation insurance was well worth it for the peace of mind. Even if you never use it, you’ll know that you’re protected, and that it provides coverage for plane and baggage delays as well.
For cancellation insurance, I recommend getting a Travel Lite plan by IMG Global. This costs maybe $600 for $15,000 of coverage the month prior to your trip, but again, you can purchase a lesser-valued plan for much less.