Health insuranceInsurance

best health insurance for international students

These days, it’s easier than ever for students to study abroad and complete their degree at a school or university overseas. But of course, the anxiety of moving, settling in, and adapting to a lifestyle and culture different from your own can be overwhelming there are all sorts of little details you need to take care of and one of those details you need to prioritize is Health insurance. In this article, I will list the best health insurance for international students, in most developed countries you will need health insurance while studying there.

It’s not fun, and it’s not exciting but it is important primarily because many international universities or study abroad programs will require you to have student health insurance.

But also because different countries have different health insurance policies. And what applies in your native country might not work in your newfound home (and truly, you don’t want to get stuck without insurance in a foreign country!).

Although most universities and colleges have partner insurance that they offer to their international students, I’ve found that these tend to be pretty expensive. Which means you’re often better off finding your own insurance.

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But as you search for international health insurance coverage for students, keep in mind that some colleges and universities won’t accept all insurance plans. So, before purchasing an insurance plan, we highly recommend asking your school or university what their minimum requirements are in terms of deductibles, coverage amounts, and what they do and don’t cover.

What I recommend is that, if you choose a specific health insurance for students, you should ask your university or school if they accept that specific one. And only once they’ve confirmed should you purchase!

So now let’s get started!

What is international student health insurance?

Just like at home, accidents and illnesses can also happen when you’re a student overseas. However, since the insurance that covers you at home likely doesn’t work in your new country of residence, international student health insurance will make sure you’re covered no matter what happens.

Plus, having international student insurance is a requirement to study abroad in many countries.

How do I know if I need international student health insurance while studying abroad?

If you’re on a scholarship or completing a specific study abroad program, often your school will take care of insurance for you.

But truly, the best thing you can do is ask your school and see if it’s a requirement or if they provide it.

In certain cases, you might get away with just purchasing travel insurance (see the next question for more on this).

International Health Insurance for Students Quick Summary:

  • Used by students, scholars, and faculty moving abroad for a long period of time (and is often cheaper than regular expat health insurance)
  • Covers your medical needs just like your insurance would back home
  • It is a requirement to have to study in some countries (like studying abroad in the United States or Europe)

How do I choose the best health insurance for international students

Obviously, this will depend on a lot of things about you personally. But here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

    • Does the insurance coverage meet the minimum requirements of your school? (Call and ask before purchasing a plan if you aren’t sure)
    • How convenient are the care options? Can you visit any doctor, hospital, or clinic with their coverage? Or are you limited to their network?
    • Are the reviews mostly positive or negative?
    • Does the plan cover pre-existing conditions?
    • Do they cover emergencies like terrorism incidents and emergency evacuation?
    • If you have dependents (like children or a spouse) does the insurance cover them as well?
    • Do they cover any specific medications you need to take?
    • Does the plan meet my J1 or J2 visa requirement (if studying in the United States)?
    • Is the insurance plan accepted in the Schengen area in Europe?
    • Does the plan meet my student visa requirements (if studying anywhere else in the world)?

Who do these international student’s health insurances work for?

For these international students studying abroad (exchange studies):

  • Americans
  • Canadians
  • Australians
  • Chinese
  • Germans
  • French
  • Argentinians
  • British
  • Swedes
  • New Zealanders

And for citizens from almost every other country studying abroad

For international students studying in:

  • The United States
  • Canada
  • China
  • Germany
  • Sweden
  • Spain
  • Portugal
  • France (European Union/Schengen Area as a whole)
  • United Kingdom
  • China (and Hong Kong)
  • Australia
  • Switzerland

And for students (middle/high school, college/university, undergrad/PhD) studying in almost any other country in the world

In other words, no matter your citizenship or which country you are moving to study, most of these international health plans will work for you since they are genuinely global insurance.

5 best health insurance for international students

1. International Student Health Insurance by IMG

IMGlobal offers a variety of insurance plans for students (as well as insurance plans for expats and crew members).

These are the 3 plans they offer:

Plan #1: The Patriot Exchange Program (perfect for students studying abroad in the United States!)

#2: Student Health Advantage (perfect for students studying in Europe/under the Schengen visa!)

#3: Student Health Advantage Platinum

you can visit their official website to learn more about these plans

What to know about IMG’s International Student Insurance:

  • Most of their plans are designed to cover the J1 and J2 visa requirements for international students studying in the U.S.
  • Most of their plans are also designed to cover students studying in Europe/Schengen visa countries
  • They have more than 17,000 healthcare providers for you to choose from internationally
  • It covers students of all nationalities
  • customer service is available 24/7 (in case of emergencies)
  • Their plans are designed for individuals as well as groups of 5 or more
  • They cover COVID-19 and telemedicine consultations
  • Not all their plans cover maternity care or pre-existing conditions (or there is a 1-year waiting period to cover pre-existing conditions)

2 International Health Insurance for Cigna Global Students

Cigna Global, one of the largest health insurance companies in the world, has an excellent reputation in the health care industry. Offering plans for travellers, expats and of course international students.

Cigna Global offers 3 main plans, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Their plans cover the entire world, with the option of including the United States or not. Below is a table for comparing the plans

They allow you to have a flexible plan by adding optional modules to your insurance, such as:

  • Include dental and eye treatments
  • International evacuation and crisis assistance

The company also has a flexible payment policy, offering several options such as annual, monthly and quarterly payments.

What to know about International Health Insurance for Cigna Global Students:

  • Has an agile claim process, according to company data 95% of refund requests are received within 10 days
  • One of Cigna’s differentials is its super complete service and online help centre, with access to a list of more than 3,000 hospitals, online access for travellers and information guides
  • Altogether Cigna is a partner of more than 1.65 million hospitals, doctors, clinics and specialists from around the world, giving a wide range of options to its beneficiaries
  • They have 24/7 assistance to answer any of your questions
  • Your most basic plan does not cover prenatal and postnatal care
  • Does not provide coverage for outpatient consultations with specialists and doctors

3. Allianz Worldwide Care

German company Allianz is one of the best well-known insurance companies. They can offer health coverage to expats/immigrants as well as students abroad. So they have really good options for health insurance plans for J-1 visa students in the United States (and plans that cover the other types of student visas all over the world).

Besides their basic plan, Allianz Care, you can also choose from two more robust options: Allianz Care Pro and Allianz Care Plus.

What to know about student health insurance with Allianz Care:

  • They have 24/7 customer support
  • Allianz’s app is easy and simple to use
  • You can add family members (spouse or children) to your insurance plan
  • They offer specific mental health help as well for students with stress or anxiety
  • In most cases, you don’t pay the healthcare provider directly (Allianz pays them directly for your consultation so you don’t have to request reimbursement)
  • The website is a bit complicated to navigate if you’re looking for specific info about coverage
  • You need to pay extra fees for services like dental assistance or repatriation depending on your plan


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