Student Travel Insurance: What is it & is Cheapest Best?

a passport, suitcase and a protection shield

You must be so excited right now! Congratulations on the exciting move and scoring that place overseas. You are all over your exams but not quite sure whether to get the cheapest student travel insurance or load up with more benefits. We understand you’ve got enough textbooks to read so we’ve put together this snappy guide on choosing student travel insurance. Keep reading and you’ll be top of your class on this topic by the end, plus we’ll even throw in a handy study abroad packing list....


What is student travel insurance?

If you’re going overseas to study, you’re going to want travel insurance. Whether you’ve enrolled in Erasmus, or are going down under, it’s something every student needs. We’re very lucky in the UK to have excellent health care, public services etc. Not all countries are as fortunate though and you may find visiting a doctor in your new country is just not the same.

student mortar board

While you might be travelling to a country that sounds advanced with all the mod cons you’re used to, you may have to pay for the niceties there. Getting a visa to a country doesn’t automatically entitle you to all the services there for free. In many places, even citizens born and bred there don’t get free health care (the USA being a well-known example).

All insurers will offer some level of medical cover, regardless of whether it’s student travel insurance or a standard policy. Make sure the level is high enough for your needs and you have adequate repatriation cover to get you home if necessary. If you’re going to Europe, your EHIC card is great, but you still need travel insurance.

Some insurers don’t offer a specific student travel insurance policy, but they may wrap up similar benefits in a backpackers travel insurance policy. Either way, the main student-specific benefits you might want are:

  1. Policy flexibility - usually a long stay or backpackers travel insurance policy will only insure you for up to 18 months. If you are studying abroad for two or three years you may struggle to get your insurance policy renewed after the first 18 months is finished as many policies state that you must not have been out of the UK for more than six months during the year prior to buying the policy. This is obviously going to be difficult for you if you’ve been studying overseas!
    Some student travel insurance policies don’t have these restrictions and understand students’ conundrum here. Watch out though, you will probably still need to be registered with a GP in the UK to be eligible to take out a policy, even when living overseas.

  2. Visits home allowed - you are probably going to want to come home at some stage for a visit. Whether you miss the home-cooked food or have to come back for a wedding, it’s nearly inevitable, especially if you’re just a short flight away.
    Usually, long stay and backpacker policies have a clause that says if you return home during your trip the policy will finish. The benefit of a good student travel insurance policy is you can return home as often as you like. The policy will simply be paused when you leave your overseas destination and usually start up again when you return. You don’t have to spend Christmas alone! You are usually allowed an unlimited number of trips home so you could make it for your birthday and Easter too!

  3. Cancellation cover - you can find policies which will cover you for up to one year before you leave. If you can not travel and attend the course anymore, then your cancellation fees will be covered.

Always read the policy wording because even though a policy might be called student travel insurance, most do not include all of the above benefits. Others are purely labelled student travel insurance because they are for people on a budget. Decide what benefits are most important to you and shop around.

What are the common benefits included in travel insurance policies?

There are common benefits included in all travel insurance, including student policies. These should play a big factor in determining which policy to choose. Every insurer will include different levels of cover and you need to think about your circumstances carefully.

Some of the main benefits to look for are:

  • Medical expenses and repatriation - medical claims are the most expensive on average. You can imagine it won’t be cheap if you injure yourself in another country. If you have to be repatriated (brought home) as well, the costs are frightening.

  • Personal liability - this covers you if you accidentally cause damage to another person or their property.

  • Baggage and personal belongings - this will cover you for loss, theft or damage. Be careful with this benefit as there will be a single item limit, which means you can only claim up to £X for any one item.

Confused by some of the terms mentioned above: what’s a single item limit for example? We know that travel insurance jargon can be confusing so we’ve created this jargon-busting glossary to help you.

Will student travel insurance cover you for multiple countries?

Yes, it will! You’re probably going to want to explore the region in between exams and your busy schedule. Insurers will usually offer you worldwide or European cover so that you can do just that. Before you travel, make sure there are no travel warnings for any of the countries you are visiting. Insurers generally won’t cover you for such countries and it’s a good idea to check for your own safety too!

If you’re planning a ski trip, this probably won’t be covered in your student travel insurance policy. You will likely need to buy separate winter sports cover to ensure you are protected against all the risks that come with shredding the slopes.

Are you planning a gap year before studying?

map of europe

If you’re planning to take a year off before studying, then gap year insurance is probably for you. Gap year insurance will cover you for an extended period of time (up to 18 months). Most gap year policies will also allow you to travel to multiple countries on the same trip. Make sure you include all the countries when you get a quote (i.e. worldwide, including the USA or Europe).

Gap year insurance can also insure you for working or volunteering abroad during your trip. Be sure to check the policy wording though, as there are often exclusions e.g. manual work.


Prices: should I buy the cheapest student travel insurance policy?

The answer to this is much simpler than your exam papers (thank gosh!). You should never pick student travel insurance based only on price. The benefits that different travel insurance policies offer vary widely. Just as an example, your beloved phone will not be covered by most policies and you may need to add gadgets cover.

Top tip: some comparison sites allow you to compare student travel insurance policies, but you will receive regular travel insurance policies in the quote too. These may be perfectly fine for you if you don’t want any of the specific cover mentioned above, just be aware that this is the case and read the policies before buying one.

We got quotes from two insurers who offer one or more student-specific benefits. These quotes are from September 2019 for one year of cover to Europe for an 18-year-old:

 Navigator Travel Insurance - the Silver insurance policy is £260.05. Some of the key benefits it will insure you for are:

  • Cancellation (including course fees) - £1,000

  • Medical expenses - £5,000,000

  • Personal accident - £10,000

  • Personal liability - £2,000,000

  • Baggage - £1,250

 Endsleigh Insurance - the Study Abroad Essential insurance policy is £148.25. Some of the key benefits it will insure you for are:

  • Course fees - £5,000

  • Medical expenses - £5,000,000

  • Personal accident - £15,000

  • Personal liability - £1,000,000

  • Baggage - £1,500
pile of money

Travel insurance policies with specific student-related cover are generally much more expensive than regular policies. It is useful if you need it, but why pay for cover that you don’t need? If in doubt, give the companies a call and shop around. Ask providers about exclusions on the benefits that are most essential to you too. You’re going to want to save as much of your hard-earned cash so you can enjoy your time away (when you’re not studying, of course).

It’s also worthwhile asking your uni for help too. They should be able to recommend travel insurance companies that previous students have used.


Study abroad packing list

As we promised, here’s a packing list for your study abroad. Make sure you add the following to your list if you haven’t got them on there already:

  1. Travel insurance - you’re already reading this page so nice work, you know what to do here.

  2. Clothes and footwear - mix it up. You’re going to want variety here for classes, socialising, sport etc.

  3. Towel/s - take a couple if you’re heading to a hot location, one for the shower and one for the pool/beach. If you’re low on space buy a sports towel for the shower as they’re compact.

  4. Toiletries - feminine products (you may want to stock up depending on where you’re going), toothbrush, hair and skin care products.

  5. Medications/prescriptions - bring extra in case it takes you a while to get to a doctor in your new country and especially if you don’t speak the local language!

  6. Electronics - adaptors, e-reader (pre-loaded), portable power bank, laptop, phone, MP3 player etc.

  7. Travel docs - passport (with visa, if necessary) and photocopies, tickets and end destination information.

If you’re still struggling and can’t possibly fit everything into your bag, here’s one more trick. You can send yourself a little care package, with any extras you just have to have. This will cost you a little, but if you plan in advance and ship it or truck it, the price can be surprisingly low. You just have to think whether this includes items you’ll need to ship back. Are you going to be sending a box of Maryland cookies or more of your favourite clothes (hard to leave behind)?


Data and information correct as of September 2019.

All material on this page and the selectra.co.uk website is for information purposes only and does not constitute any form of financial advice. Selectra.co.uk is not responsible for any consequences that might arise from your use of the information provided.

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