A year in Russia

The Insurance Quandry

In my visa post, I briefly discussed insurance but having now made a few more enquiries I’ve decided it’s worthy of its own post.

Let me just preface this debacle with the fact that on our year abroad information day, the answer to my question ‘what type of insurance will we need?‘ was ‘oh just normal travel insurance will be fine’. Otherwise my conclusion would have been my starting point. Obviously…

Exploring the options

As I mentioned, the AA and the Post Office both offer long-term insurance deals. Issues with these include only being able to return home once during your time abroad for a maximum of two weeks. Additionally ‘backpacker cover’ caters for a different set of conditions than studying abroad. Then if you consider taking out two separate single trip policies for each term, there are issues with how much cover is provided for personal belongings. Considering we’re off gallivanting (great word, I know) for an entire academic year, we’re taking items we wouldn’t normally take on holiday such as laptops. The Post Office offers a limit of up to £2000 for personal belongings, with a maximum of £500 per item and £500 for valuables under its premium single trip policy. So if you lose both your phone (assuming you’ve taken an unlocked smartphone from home) and your laptop in a really bad stroke of luck, you’ll be left scurrying to the Bank of Mum and Dad to help cover the cost of replacements. Not ideal. When I phoned up the AA (similar deal to the Post Office only less generous) to enquire about perhaps altering the insurance and paying extra, I was speedily informed “we only offer a standard insurance package which can’t be changed”. Hmph.

Time to look elsewhere. I try my bank, Lloyds TSB though others are available, which offers baggage cover of up to £2500 with a £500 limit per item and again for valuables. Once more into the breach I go with some attempts at bargaining. I recommend you don’t bother. Lloyds was much more useful though, explaining quite a bit about ways to make your insurance void. For instance, I didn’t know that most insurance policies require that the insured party is resident in the UK for the six months prior to the period covered. So if I were to take two separate insurance policies for the two separate semesters, I wouldn’t actually be legally covered in second semester. Secondly, the nice young chap mentioned that valuables like a laptop or mobile might be covered by ‘contents cover away from home’ under our home insurance. Handy. He also mentioned that there is most likely specialist insurance companies who offer products that fit my needs.

Why was this not my first step?

Google attempt three and ‘year abroad insurance’ brings results. Setting aside issues such as valuable cover makes this easier as well, just need to check I’m covered under my parents’ home insurance and I’m all set in that department. I’ve listed some of the most appropriate/interesting providers I’ve found below, obviously read the terms and conditions and make sure the cover is suited to you!

First in the search results, www.yearabroadinsurance.com. Now why didn’t I think of them earlier? Duh. Nb. doesn’t cover any mobile phone loss or damage.

Ariane also mentioned that as an international student, she usually uses World Nomads.

Lower on the first page of search results, I noticed Endsleigh has a year abroad package. A more well known company and recommended by NUS. Allows optional increases for insuring laptops etc and unlimited trips home. It also covers you if you’re doing an internship abroad, which is handy.

Things to consider

  • Do you really need extra cover for laptops/valuables?
  • Are you covered for all the activities you want to take up? If you’re planning on joining the Karate society at your new Uni, are you covered?
  • If you’re in hospital, will they fly out a relative to mop your brow and feed you grapes?
  • Do you need separate insurance for each term if undertaking different activities? First semester’s study insurance might not cover second semester’s internship.
  • Can you extend your cover? Your year abroad might be so fantastic that you decide to stay a little bit longer (visa allowing) or travel on to another destination before returning home. I’m considering a brief sojourn to Almaty, Kazakhstan before coming home next summer; will I need separate insurance for that or can I extend my cover both in duration and countries covered?
  • How many times, and for how long, can you come home without voiding your policy?

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This entry was posted on 5 August, 2013 by in Journal and tagged , , .
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