Studying abroad? How to choose the best insurance

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If you’re planning an exciting trip to learn English abroad, there is one thing you should not leave home without – and that’s insurance.

You will most likely never need to use it, but the security you will feel from knowing your health, travel and possessions are insured will mean you can relax and focus on what your trip is all about: learning, having fun and making memories.

Not all insurance is the same, so you should invest time in choosing the right policy for you – one that suits your budget but covers what you need. It’s also worth looking at insurers who specialise in study abroad experiences, such as or GBG.

Here are some questions you should consider before you start your search:

Where are you travelling to? Policies are often set by area, e.g. Europe/Worldwide excluding the US/Worldwide. Make sure that not only the country you are travelling to is covered, but that any other countries you may do an excursion or day trip to are as well.

How long is your trip? Most policies will cover you for either 90, 120 or 180 days. If you are planning to study for longer, a long-stay policy will provide up to 18 months of cover.

Do you plan to take part in sports or physical activities? There are lots of policies that will cover you for adventurous sports such as scuba diving and bungee jumping while you are abroad. You should also be aware that insurers count less extreme sports as ‘adventurous’ too, so if you plan to do any horse riding, mountain biking, canoeing or motor cycling, make sure they are covered in your policy.

Do you need specialist cover? If you have an existing medical condition (or you are over 65), it’s likely you will need a specialist policy.

Once you know your requirements, you can start comparing the policies available. Price comparison websites can be useful at this stage, and this is the essential cover you should look for:

Medical – Your policy should include cover of at least the equivalent of £1 million inside Europe and £2 million outside Europe. Make sure treatment, accommodation and travel expenses are covered in a medical emergency, plus that there is a 24-hour phone number for the insurance company that you can call if you need to.

Baggage and belongings – Most policies include the equivalent of £1,500-£3,000 of cover for lost or stolen possessions. Be aware though that excesses can be high and the limits you can claim for your valuables can be low. Look out for the ‘single article limit’ which states the maximum you can claim for one item, and the ‘total articles limit’ which states the maximum you can claim for ‘valuables’. Also, it’s important to note that high-value electronics usually require extra insurance, and generally your valuables will only be covered if you keep them in your hand baggage while travelling.

Missed departure – This covers your costs if you miss your departure journey because of circumstances beyond your control – such as a transport breakdown, being involved in an accident or delays on public transport.

Cancellation – You should choose a policy that will cover your costs if you need to cancel your trip or return home early for any reason. Check it will pay enough and bear in mind most policies only cover your cancellation if it is for one of a few extremely specific reasons.

Airline or hotel failure – You can usually add on extra items such as airline failure or holiday failure insurance (covers you if your airline or travel provider goes out of business) if your policy doesn’t already include them.

Personal liability - Most policies will provide the equivalent of at least £1 million in cover, in case you are sued for damaging property or for injuring someone.

This is just a basic guide and of course your insurance is potentially very important, so please make sure you choose carefully, read the small print and make yourself very familiar with the terms of the policy that you purchase.