Travel insurance for students

If you’re heading abroad to study or travel, find out what travel insurance you’ll need and how the right cover can protect you against unexpected situations while you’re away.

Eve Powell
Eve Powell
Updated 12 December 2022  | 4 min read

Why do I need travel insurance for studying abroad?

Student travel insurance, sometimes known as study abroad travel insurance, covers you against unexpected costs when things don’t go to plan on your trip.

Your policy can provide protection for a number of unforeseen situations while you’re away. This includes covering the cost of replacing or repairing your belongings if they were to get damaged or stolen.

And it’ll cover any urgent medical treatment you might need on your trip, which could end up costing you thousands of pounds without travel insurance in place.

Your university or college may even advise or request that you take out travel insurance. And in some countries, having medical cover is compulsory as part of your visa application.

Key points

  • You’ll need to declare any pre-existing medical conditions when taking out cover to avoid invalidating your insurance 
  • Check the length of your policy and whether you’re allowed any visits back home during your time away 
  • Look out for any exclusions, like doing manual labour or visiting certain destinations 
  • If you’ll be doing any adventurous activities, make sure you’re covered - you may need to buy a policy add-on

What type of policy do I need to study abroad?

There are three main types of travel insurance that are suitable. Which one you choose will depend on the length of your trip and the amount of travelling you plan to do:

Single trip: One short-duration trip

This covers you for one trip that can last up to a set amount of time, usually 31 days. But with some student single-trip policies, you might be covered for much longer than this - as long as you don’t come back to the UK during that time.

Annual or multi-trip: Two or more short-duration trips throughout the year

Useful if you’re planning more than one trip away. For example, if your studies require multiple field trips abroad or if you’ll be studying away for a short time and also taking a holiday in the same year. Each trip needs to last less than a month.

Backpacker or extended trip insurance: For longer student trips

This provides continuous cover for a longer-lasting single trip that can span several months up to two years. It can cover visiting several countries and is ideal for a gap year or studying abroad. It also usually covers one trip home of up to 14 days.

What does student travel insurance cover?

A student travel insurance policy can include cover for:

  • Emergency medical treatment for illnesses or injuries
  • Baggage and personal belongings, in case they get lost, stolen or damaged
  • Flight delays and cancellation
  • Money and travel documents, including your passport
  • Cutting short your trip
  • Disruption to your trip caused by Covid-19
  • Personal liability in case you injure someone else, or damage their property
  • Loss of course fees if you have to cancel
  • Repatriation if you need to be transported back to the UK for emergency medical treatment

Does it cover adventurous sports?

While travel insurance tends to only cover low-risk sporting activities, if you want to pack a little more adventure into your trip, you can usually tailor your policy to include this.

An adventure or extreme sports policy add-on will cover adrenaline-fuelled sports, like rock climbing and skydiving.

And if you fancy hitting the slopes while you’re away, you can add on winter-sports cover.

Whatever activity you’re planning, it’s important to make sure it’s covered. Check your policy wording carefully and contact your insurer if you want more information.

What isn’t covered?

Some common exclusions to look out for on student travel insurance include:

  • Injury, loss or damage while you’re drinking alcohol or taking illegal drugs
  • Theft of items which have been left unattended
  • Diseases you should have been vaccinated against before you arrived in the country
  • Travelling to a destination that the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) has advised against visiting
  • Some types of work, like manual labour

It’s also worth checking whether coming back to the UK will end your policy. Some policies allow you to come back for a certain number of days during your trip, but others won’t.

Can you get cover if you have pre-existing conditions?

When you’re taking out travel insurance, you’ll need to declare any medical conditions you have. You may be able to get cover for these, but it will often cost you more.

Not telling your insurer about a serious health condition can invalidate your policy and any claim you make relating to it is likely to be rejected.

For more serious medical conditions, you may need to get specialist travel insurance. Moneyhelper lists a number of providers on their travel insurance directory that cover a wide range of health conditions and disabilities.

European versus worldwide cover

You’ll need to make sure all the countries you’ll be visiting are included in your travel insurance. Even if it’s just somewhere you’ll be passing through.

If you’re not travelling too far afield, you can take out a European policy. This will cover you for visiting all European Union (EU) member states, as well as European countries not in the EU.

In EU countries, you can use a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access free or reduced-cost emergency healthcare. But this isn’t a replacement for travel insurance as it won’t cover private healthcare or repatriation to the UK.

The alternative to a European policy is worldwide cover. This is more expensive but will cover you for destinations around the world.

Can I travel anywhere with my student cover?

This will depend on the type of policy you take out. If you only have a European policy, you won’t be covered to travel outside the EU.

And if you travel to any country that the FCDO has advised against visiting, your policy will become invalid.

Check your policy carefully to find out if there are any destinations that aren’t included in your cover.

Is there a student discount?

Some insurance providers may offer you a discount if you’re registered as a student.

But the cheapest policy won’t always provide the best cover, so do your research when you’re shopping around.

Will my university cover me for doing part of my course abroad?

Your university should tell you about this when you start the course. But if you’ll be studying abroad as part of your degree, you may automatically be covered by your university’s travel insurance policy.

However, if you’re covered by your uni, you should read the policy wording carefully.

There may be exclusions around healthcare and cover for your belongings, as well as any personal trips you take during your time away.

So it may still be a good idea to take out your own travel insurance to make sure you have the right level of cover.

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