Travel Insurance for Studying Abroad

Travel insurance can protect your finances if your travel plans go awry.

Nick Dauk
Written byNick Dauk
Nick Dauk
Nick Dauk
  • 6+ years writing about insurance, travel, and personal finances

  • Contributor to brands like Credible

In addition to insurance, Nick specializes in writing about business, entrepreneurship, personal finance, and travel. He’s been featured in myriad web publications, including Fox Business.

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Danny Smith
Edited byDanny Smith
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Danny Smith
  • Licensed auto and home insurance agent

  • 4+ years in content creation and marketing

As Insurify’s home and pet insurance editor, Danny also specializes in auto insurance. His goal is to help consumers navigate the complex world of insurance buying.

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Updated September 22, 2023

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Studying abroad is one of the most engaging ways to continue your studies while learning about a country’s history, culture, and more. While thousands of students have an immensely positive experience, not all study abroad trips go off without a hitch. That’s what makes travel insurance so important.

Sometimes, a student must have travel insurance while studying abroad; other times, it’s optional coverage. Regardless, you should consider having at least a minimal amount of travel insurance when studying abroad just in case the unexpected happens.

What is travel insurance for studying abroad?

Travel insurance is a type of insurance that reimburses you for part of or all of your expenses when you experience an unfortunate event when traveling. This could be anything from losing your luggage to having to completely cancel the trip.[1]

Travel insurance could help you recover financially from these unexpected problems. Aside from issues with the trip itself, you may want to also consider travel health insurance.

Good to Know

In most cases, your regular health insurance plan won’t cover the costs of your medical care outside of the United States, and the U.S. government won’t pay for medical bills or related costs if you’re injured while abroad.[2]

What travel insurance should a student have?

Parents and students alike may need clarification on whether travel insurance is necessary for studying abroad. If the university requires travel insurance for a semester abroad, faculty members or staff in charge of the program should notify the students of the policy requirements.

If travel insurance is optional, study abroad program participants should at least know which options to consider. Whether it’s to provide health insurance coverage that your normal U.S. insurance policy doesn’t cover or to cover en-route travel challenges, such as lost baggage, you should be familiar with how additional insurance can help.

Even if you’re staying in your home country — such as a student from the mainland United States enrolling in a semester in Alaska, Hawaii, or one of the U.S. territories — lost luggage, flight delays, and cancellations caused by a natural disaster could all occur.

Travel medical insurance

Travel medical insurance typically pays for medical services you receive outside your home country, such as a routine service like a doctor visit for a prescription or a vaccination, as well as an emergency service suddenly required during your study trip. Travel medical insurance plans differ with each travel insurance company, so compare policies accordingly.

Baggage insurance

Baggage insurance covers your luggage if you lose it in transit. For example: Suppose you checked a bag at an airport in your home country, changed planes in a layover airport, and arrived at your destination only to discover that you no longer have your baggage. In this instance, baggage insurance would pay for the cost of your lost luggage.

This insurance might not be an important consideration for students using only carry-on luggage.

Delay insurance

Travel insurance works on a case-by-case basis, and covered information-specific events are outlined in your policy. It’s important to remember that trip cancellation differs from a trip delay. Basic travel insurance covers some long delays that result in you missing a significant amount of your trip; additional delay insurance can potentially cover you for smaller delays, such as long flight delays or transportation strikes.

Cancellation insurance

Trip cancellation insurance is an important consideration, even if you believe you don’t need baggage insurance or delay insurance. Cancellation insurance protects your financial investment in a single trip by reimbursing you for canceled cruises, flights, train tickets, and more.

For instance, if your host country suddenly changes its entry requirements or your home country suddenly sets new travel restrictions, cancellation insurance may cover these events.

Mental health coverage

Travel can include moments of stress, anxiety, and loneliness. Some policies allow you to purchase additional insurance related to mental health coverage.

If you currently receive mental health services through your university, talk to your study abroad office about how you can ensure your unique psychological needs are covered abroad through mental health travel insurance.

Travel evacuation insurance

There’s medical evacuation insurance that helps in the event of things like accidental death or dismemberment, but there’s also evacuation insurance unrelated to you sustaining a serious medical emergency, like injuries, accidents, or illnesses. Travel evacuation insurance removes you from the host country if military action or political unrest breaks out.

Why you should get travel medical insurance

Seeking medical treatment at a medical facility abroad can be expensive, as can simply refilling a prescription medication. Having access to international health insurance can reduce these costs dramatically.

Make sure to inquire about any pre-existing conditions you have. Some travel insurance companies include pre-existing conditions, while other international health insurance plans don’t.

Travel insurance for COVID-19

Because COVID-19 is still present worldwide, some countries may have strict rules regarding how a student may enter, remain, or leave the country if they contract the virus.

The U.S. Department of State recommends that travelers obtain travel insurance that includes coverage for all COVID-19-related trip cancellations and disruptions, as well as medical coverage for COVID-19-related treatments.[3]

Keep in Mind

Like many other specific coverage options, COVID-19 insurance may not be automatically included in a basic travel insurance policy for students.

Where to get travel insurance for studying abroad

Many insurance companies offer policies specifically designed for the needs of study abroad students. Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI) provides travel insurance policies for international students and students studying abroad.[4] You can also purchase travel insurance through a global network of insurance companies for school-related trips.

The first places to search for policies are either through the study abroad office at your university or through your current insurance company. Most schools that facilitate study abroad trips will have either documents for you to view or email and other contact information to find a plan.

Similarly, your current medical, auto, or even homeowner insurance company may offer travel insurance that you can add to your policy.

Study abroad insurance FAQs

Whether it’s your first time studying abroad, or if you’ve never purchased travel insurance for a previous academic adventure, here’s some helpful information about study abroad insurance.

  • When should you buy travel insurance?

    Unless your study abroad program has a specific deadline, you should purchase travel insurance as soon as you’ve confirmed your trip. Many insurers recommend purchasing it immediately after you secure your travel arrangements, as the longer you wait the more expensive it will be. At the latest, you should purchase a policy within 14 to 15 days of your trip.

  • Do you need insurance to travel or study abroad?

    You don’t typically need travel insurance unless the destination country requires it. However, a traveler on a formal trip like a tour will likely need to purchase travel insurance to attend the trip.[5] A student studying abroad may also need travel insurance to meet the requirements of their university or school.

  • What does study abroad insurance cover?

    Study abroad insurance isn’t a set-in-stone policy. Rather, it’s a type of travel insurance offered by an insurer designed to meet a student’s specific needs. Students studying abroad may choose a policy that covers medical expenses, trip cancellation, baggage loss, or other events.


  1. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "Travel Insurance."
  2. U.S. Department of State - Bureau of Consular Affairs. "Insurance Providers for Overseas Coverage."
  3. U.S. Department of State. "International Travel Challenges During COVID-19."
  4. Cultural Insurance Services International. "Worldwide Travel Insurance Plans."
  5. Exodus Adventure Travels. "Essential Information."
Nick Dauk
Nick Dauk

Nick Dauk is a freelance writer specializing in business, entrepreneurship, personal finance, and travel. His work has been featured in Fox Business, BBC, The Edge, Business Insider, and Bisnow. Nick is a first-generation college graduate, having majored in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Central Florida. His eclectic coursework, combined with previous managerial roles in the retail and broadcast television industries, have helped him develop an interdisciplinary approach to writing.

For nearly a decade, Nick has created content for mom-and-pop businesses and global corporations. As a travel writer, his global adventures have also been featured on Inside Hook, Houston Chronicle, Culture Trip, and Matador. When he's not traveling, Nick can be found in Orlando spending time with his wife and toddler.

Danny Smith
Edited byDanny Smith
Photo of an Insurify author
Danny Smith
  • Licensed auto and home insurance agent

  • 4+ years in content creation and marketing

As Insurify’s home and pet insurance editor, Danny also specializes in auto insurance. His goal is to help consumers navigate the complex world of insurance buying.

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