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The Best Student Travel Insurance: How To Choose, Tips, and Policies [2024]

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Jessica Merritt
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Jessica Merritt

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A long-time points and miles student, Jessica is the former Personal Finance Managing Editor at U.S. News and World Report and is passionate about helping consumers fund their travels for as little ca...
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Whether you’re planning to study abroad, backpacking through continents, or just going on a quick adventure, student travel can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. If you’re an inexperienced traveler or have family members at home who need some reassurance, you could benefit from the security that student travel insurance provides, whether it’s financial support or a 24/7 travel assistance hotline.

Let’s explore your options in student travel insurance, from trip cancellation and medical insurance to what you need to know about finding the best prices and coverage.

The 5 Best Travel Insurance Policies for Students

The best student travel insurance might be cheaper than you think. Students can get affordable travel insurance coverage for trip cancellations, emergency medical benefits, and more. We’ve run the numbers to get policy quotes based on age, benefits, and trip length so you can get an idea of what to expect from travel insurance for students.

Consider these student travel insurance policies:

SCROLL FOR MORE
Student Travel Insurance PlanBest ForSample Cost
Battleface Discovery PlanLow Cost
$33.41 for a 19-year-old
IMG Patriot America PlatinumInternational Students
$25.76 for a 20-year-old
John Hancock Insurance Agency SilverMedical Coverage
$68 for an 18-year-old
Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection Exact Care ValueExchange Students
$189 for a 17-year-old
Aegis Go Ready ChoiceCOVID-19 Coverage
$35 for a 21-year-old

‌Best Cheap Student Travel Insurance: Battleface

Student travelers on a budget likely want extensive coverage at a low price.

Travel insurance is often cheap for students, considering companies usually offer good rates for young adult travelers. The Battleface Discovery Plan has limited benefits but comes in strong where it really counts, with $100,000 in emergency medical coverage and $500,000 for emergency medical evacuation benefits. Trip cancellation coverage is available for up to your full trip cost, but there is no trip interruption benefit.

We were quoted $33.41 for this plan for a 19-year-old visiting Mexico.

‌Best Student Travel Insurance for International Students: IMG

International students traveling to the U.S. may be limited in choices with trip cancellation and interruption coverage, but medical coverage is often generous. The IMG Patriot America Platinum policy has no benefits for trip cancellation and just $10,000 for trip interruption, but it offers $2 million each for emergency medical and emergency evacuation benefits.

This $2 million in coverage was quoted to us for just $25.76 for a 20-year-old student visiting the U.S. from China.

‌Best Student Travel Insurance for Medical Coverage: John Hancock Insurance Agency

Medical coverage is key when traveling far from home, and the John Hancock Insurance Agency Silver plan offers good emergency medical benefits. This plan provides $500,000 in medical evacuation coverage and $100,000 in primary emergency medical benefits. While primary coverage costs more, it’s also more helpful because you don’t have to go through any other insurance coverage before it kicks in. This plan also offers up to 100% reimbursement for trip cancellation and 150% for trip interruption.

We got a quote on this plan for $68 for an 18-year-old visiting Germany.

Best Student Travel Insurance for Exchange Students: Berkshire Hathaway

Travel insurance for longer, more costly student travel, such as exchange programs, is more expensive than what you’d get for a week or 2 abroad. Still, the Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection ExactCare Value plan offers a reasonable rate for up to 100% trip cancellation and interruption insurance, $15,000 in secondary emergency medical benefits, and $150,000 in emergency medical evacuation coverage.

Our quote for a 17-year-old on a 6-month exchange program in the U.K. was $189.

Best Student Travel Insurance for COVID-19: Aegis

Concerns about COVID-19 can interfere with your travel plans, whether you get sick before your trip or pick it up along the way. Most travel insurance policies include COVID-19 in trip cancellation and interruption coverage as well as emergency medical benefits, and the Aegis Go Ready Choice plan is no exception. You can get up to 100% reimbursement for trip cancellation or 150% for trip interruption with COVID-19 as a covered reason. You’ll also get $50,000 in secondary emergency medical coverage, including COVID-19, and $250,000 in emergency medical evacuation.

We got a quote for $35 to cover a 21-year-old visiting China.

Is Travel Insurance for Students Worth It?

World Map
Studying abroad can take you to faraway places — and you’ll likely need travel insurance to get there. Image Credit: Kyle Glenn via Unsplash

Travel insurance is often worth it, especially if you can’t afford to lose your nonrefundable travel expenses or you’re traveling internationally. As young travelers, students in particular may find having a 24/7 assistance hotline helpful. If it’s your first time traveling abroad, knowing that assistance is just a phone call away can be reassuring.

Student travelers may run into issues such as language barriers, not understanding cultural norms, getting sick from food, or overdoing it with alcohol. You may get support for these challenges from a student travel insurance policy.

Hot Tip:

Traveling to a country where you’re old enough to drink? Be careful not to overdo it, and check your travel insurance coverage. Some emergency medical benefits limit or exclude coverage for medical care related to intoxication or drug use.

Students who have saved up to be able to take a trip may be concerned about losing nonrefundable trip costs. If your bookings aren’t refundable and you’re not willing to risk your travel investment, travel insurance can give you some reassurance. Travel insurance policies offering trip cancellation or interruption coverage will reimburse you if you need to cancel or cut short your travel due to covered circumstances. That way, you can get your money back and take your trip later.

Health coverage is also a major reason why students might choose to get travel insurance. You shouldn’t expect your U.S.-based health insurance to cover medical treatment when traveling abroad. Most travel insurance policies offer emergency medical benefits that can help you get the medical care you need without worrying about how you’re going to pay for it. Student visa holders may be required to hold health insurance.

Emergency medical evacuation coverage can help you get medical care if your destination doesn’t have adequate medical facilities to treat you. This coverage can save you money — and potentially your life — with 6-figure benefits available to connect you with care.

While cancellation and medical coverage are the most important benefits you can get from student travel insurance, you may find additional benefits helpful. Some travel insurance policies offer coverage for financial default, which is when your tour operator goes out of business. You may also be covered if you’re laid off from work and need to cancel for financial reasons. Canceled flights, lost bags, and missed connections may also be covered, so you can get reimbursement if you have to deal with these travel mishaps.

Another benefit that may make student travel insurance worthwhile is a 24/7 travel assistance hotline. A travel assistance hotline can help you with travel needs, from destination information to emergency cash, roadside assistance, or getting local medical care. In an emergency, the hotline can help keep loved ones updated at home, offering reassurance and peace of mind to family members who might be anxious about your safety while you travel.

Hot Tip:

Some international study programs require travel insurance. Make sure your policy meets the requirements, or consider purchasing from the program’s recommended provider.

Student Travel Insurance Costs

Generally, student travel insurance costs about 5% to 10% of your total trip cost if you’re purchasing a comprehensive plan. Limited plans like those just for trip cancellation or medical coverage may cost less. 

If you’re taking a $2,000 trip, that 5% to 10% breaks down to about $100 to $200, though your rates may be less as a young traveler. Comprehensive travel insurance policies usually include trip cancellation and interruption coverage, emergency medical benefits, and emergency medical evacuation — in addition to roadside assistance and a travel assistance hotline.

While you can generally expect to pay between 5% and 10% of your trip cost, how much student travel insurance costs depends on factors influencing your policy quote. These include:

  • Coverage options you choose
  • How long your trip is
  • How much your trip costs
  • How old you are
  • Policy deductibles and limits
  • Where you’re going
  • Additional benefits, such as Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR)
Hot Tip:

Get more information on what you can expect to pay for student travel insurance in our guide to the average cost of travel insurance.

What Student Travel Insurance Covers

Though each coverage plan may vary, most comprehensive student travel insurance includes these benefits:

  • Emergency Medical: Your insurance can pay for emergency medical treatment whether you get sick with a virus, break a leg, or need serious medical care.
  • Emergency Evacuation: If you need serious medical care that’s not available at your destination, your travel insurance may offer coverage that can evacuate you to a medical facility that can care for you appropriately.
  • Trip Cancellation: If you cancel your trip for covered reasons, such as severe illness or a natural disaster, you can get 100% reimbursement for your nonrefundable travel costs. However, keep in mind that this coverage typically won’t cover refunds for educational programs, such as deposits you’ve made for tuition or room and board.
  • Trip Interruption: Similar to trip cancellation, trip interruption may offer 100% or 150% reimbursement for nonrefundable travel costs if you need to cut your trip short due to covered reasons.
  • 24/7 Travel Assistance Hotline: You can call or chat with your travel insurance company’s assistance hotline to get help with travel needs, such as replacing lost credit cards or identification, finding a medical facility, or keeping your family updated in an emergency.
  • Travel Delay: Your travel insurance coverage may offer benefits if your travel is delayed significantly, such as a flight that’s several hours late. Missed connection benefits may also be available.
  • Baggage Delay or Loss: With this coverage, you can get reimbursed for lost baggage or for items you needed to buy while your baggage was delayed.
  • Rental Car Damage: If you’re renting a car and have this coverage, you can decline the rental car company’s insurance and use your travel insurance coverage for damages instead.

Some of the expenses your student travel insurance may cover include plane tickets, hotel bookings, prepaid car rentals, tour tickets, meals, clothing, toiletries, and medical costs.

Read the details of your travel insurance policy’s medical benefits. Coverage details you may want to confirm include emergency contraceptives, COVID-19 testing and treatment, mental health care, and intoxication-related incidents.

Hot Tip:

Many travel insurance policies include coverage for COVID-19. Look for COVID-19 coverage in trip cancellation and interruption benefits as well as in emergency medical and evacuation benefits.

Types of Student Travel Insurance

Comprehensive travel insurance policies are a common choice for students, but you can generally customize your travel insurance coverage to fit your needs. Some policies allow you to just get emergency medical coverage or opt for trip cancellation only. 

Additional coverage options may allow you to add CFAR coverage, allowing you to cancel your trip for any reason — not just the covered reasons in your standard coverage. With CFAR, you won’t get full reimbursement, but you’ll generally get 50% to 75% reimbursement, depending on the policy you choose. 

Some student travel insurance policies may offer additional coverage for adventure sports. For example, suppose you’d like to do some rock climbing, sky diving, or bungee jumping on your trip. In that case, most student travel insurance policies won’t cover those activities unless you add adventure sports coverage.

If you’re taking a gap year, participating in a student exchange program, or otherwise taking an extended trip as a student, you may want to consider an annual travel insurance policy. With an annual travel insurance policy, you can get insured for all of the trips you take within the covered year, whether you’re doing long trips or multiple short ones.

What To Look for in a Student Travel Insurance Policy

Although student travel insurance policies frequently offer many of the same coverage types, there are variables that should influence which policy you choose. These factors can change how much you pay, how much coverage you get, and ultimately, the experience you have if you need to use your student travel insurance. 

Consider these factors as you compare student travel insurance plans:

  • Cost: Students on a tight budget may primarily consider cost. You can find the best deal on student travel insurance by getting multiple quotes from insurance companies. Just be sure to compare coverage, too, as the cheapest student travel insurance policy may not have all the benefits you need.
  • Benefits: Look at the list of benefits and coverage to see what’s included, such as emergency medical treatment and evacuation, trip cancellation, and baggage delay. If you want CFAR or adventure sports coverage, confirm it’s available.
  • Deductibles and Limits: You’ll find the most variables in how much a student travel insurance policy covers. For example, a policy may only offer $50,000 in secondary emergency medical insurance, but you might want a policy that offers $100,000 or more in primary emergency medical coverage.
  • Exclusions: Understand what’s included and what’s not. Some policies may allow you to cancel your trip and receive reimbursement if you have work or school commitments you can’t get out of, but that’s not the case for all, so you should read the fine print.
  • Requirements and Details: Details such as how long your travel has to be delayed before you can get trip delay benefits or how close to your trip you can cancel and still get a refund.
  • Eligibility: Some student travel insurance policies may have restrictions on ages, destinations, trip duration, and other criteria that make you or your trip ineligible for coverage.
  • Company Reviews and Ratings: Before you purchase your student travel insurance policy, consider what other customers have to say. Look for expert and customer ratings and read reviews to get an idea of the experience you can expect from the travel insurance company you’re purchasing coverage from.

If you’re traveling on a student visa, such as an F-1, J-1, or J-2 visa, you may have health insurance requirements. Check your coverage to make sure the student travel insurance policy you’re considering will offer the health insurance benefits you need. 

Travel insurance policies may exclude competitive sports, so check each policy’s fine print to make sure any sports activities you’ve planned are covered. For example, if you’re traveling for a collegiate sports activity.

How To Get Student Travel Insurance

Young travelers posing for selfie
If you’re traveling with a student group, the program may recommend travel insurance options good for your trip. Image Credit: nd3000 via Shutterstock

There are a few ways to get student travel insurance: at booking, with your student travel program, or independently by shopping directly with travel insurance companies.

Getting Insurance With a Student Program

If you’re planning to travel with a student exchange program or on a student group trip, the organizer or travel agent may offer travel insurance policies you can purchase when you plan your travel. The benefit of going this route is you can get coverage from a travel insurance company that the program trusts, and it may offer the right coverage for the trip you’re planning.

Getting Insurance at the Time of Booking

Even when you’re booking travel on your own, you may get offers for travel insurance. Some airlines and hotels offer travel insurance at checkout. Online travel agencies (OTAs) such as Expedia and Booking.com typically offer travel insurance when you make a booking.

Purchasing the travel insurance policies offered to you from your travel program or at booking may make sense, but it’s still a good idea to compare these policies with other options. Consider student travel insurance you can get directly from a travel insurance company.

Getting Insurance After Booking

If you’re shopping on your own for travel insurance companies, you can visit travel insurance company websites to get quotes. If you want to save some time, you can use a travel comparison website such as Squaremouth that can give you quotes for policies from travel insurance companies that meet your search criteria.

In any case, it’s best to purchase student travel insurance shortly after booking. You can make the most of your coverage if you buy travel insurance within 2 weeks of making your first trip payment.

Hot Tip:

You may have travel insurance from a credit card, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Look carefully at your card’s travel protection benefits to consider whether it’s enough to cover your needs for an upcoming trip. If your card coverage isn’t enough, see where a student travel insurance policy can fill in the gaps.

Final Thoughts

Traveling as a student can be a thrilling experience, though not without risks. If you want to travel more confidently and quell anxieties, student travel insurance might be just the ticket. You can get covered for medical care, travel assistance, cancellations, and even evacuation if you need it. Just be sure to shop around to find the best coverage at a good price to meet your student travel needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does student travel insurance cover?

Actual coverage depends on the plan you select, but student travel insurance generally covers emergency medical treatment and evacuation, trip cancellation and interruption, travel delays, baggage delay or loss, rental car damage, and 24/7 travel assistance.

Do international students need health insurance in the U.S.?

If you have a J-1 or J-2 visa, the U.S. Department of State requires that you have medical insurance for the length of your program. However, the U.S. government doesn’t require F-1 visa holders to have medical insurance. Still, universities may require international students to carry health insurance regardless of visa requirements. Even if you’re not required by the government or educational programs to carry medical insurance, it’s still a good idea because medical care in the U.S. can be very costly without insurance coverage.

What type of travel insurance do college students need?

Most college students will find a comprehensive travel insurance policy adequate for their needs. This type of coverage offers a broad array of benefits ranging from trip cancellation to emergency medical care.

Do I need health insurance to study abroad?

It’s likely you’ll need health insurance to study abroad. Your host country, study abroad program, or school may require it. Even if health insurance isn’t required, you should consider getting medical coverage so you can get the care you need if an emergency pops up while you’re overseas.

Jessica Merritt's image

About Jessica Merritt

A long-time points and miles student, Jessica is the former Personal Finance Managing Editor at U.S. News and World Report and is passionate about helping consumers fund their travels for as little cash as possible.

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