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Student insurance

When travelling to a new country it’s wise to have some back-up security in case something should go wrong

You should buy an insurance policy before you leave your home country but just in case you don’t there are many companies in the UK that have specific deals for international students studying here.

Insurance policies can be confusing with many different requirements and situations that are or are not covered so always be sure to carefully read the contract. Try to consider the sort of activities that you are likely to do when you come here. For example:

  • Do you intend to participate in contact or ‘dangerous’ sports such as rugby, skydiving or rock climbing?
  • Are you likely to travel to any other countries while you are here? If so, your insurance will need to be valid for those as well.

If in doubt always talk it through with your university’s welfare adviser or an independent insurance broker first.

There are many different types of insurance policy to cover many types of situation. Sometimes one comprehensive package may be simpler but these can be more expensive. Consider your budget and those activities that you are planning on doing and look around for the best deal.

Here are some of the types you may want to purchase.

Personal possessions insurance

Find out more about the different personal possessions insurance policies on offer to students in the UK.

Whatever you decide to bring with you to the UK, it is worth insuring it, especially such items as laptops, mobile phones, etc. Lost luggage doesn’t happen very often, but it can occur from time to time.

If these belongings are already insured in your own country, check to see if the policy covers them abroad. If it doesn’t, cover will have to be arranged for the UK.

Items purchased on a credit card sometimes have automatic insurance for loss, theft or accidental breakage. Check with your credit card company and if not buy a policy that covers you for all your time in the UK and while you are in transit.

Find out more about personal possessions insurance policies for students in the UK.

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is a comprehensive package that, depending on the specific policy, covers most situations. It can be as simple as covering lost items to comprehensive medical cover. Consider the length of your course as well. Most travel insurance is only for a few weeks, although there are some that cover you for up to a year.

This is usually sold by the travel agents, so ask about this when you buy your ticket.

Health insurance

The National Health Service (NHS) is the UK’s state health service which provides treatment for UK residents through a wide range of health care services. Some services are free and some have to be paid for.

The following NHS treatment is free for everyone:

  • some emergency treatment (but not follow-up treatment)
  • family planning services
  • diagnosis and treatment of certain communicable diseases
  • compulsory psychiatric treatment.

To qualify for any other NHS treatment, you must meet certain conditions.

Residents of the UK and the rest of the European Economic Area (EEA) countries and Swiss nationals receive free and subsidised medical care from the NHS.

If you are from a non-EEA country and your course of study is for six months or more and you are studying in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, or if your course is of any duration and you are studying in Scotland, you will qualify for NHS treatment from the beginning of your stay on the same basis as anyone who is ordinarily resident in the UK. Your spouse or children with you in the UK as ‘dependants’ will also be entitled to NHS treatment.

The UK has reciprocal health care agreements with some countries. If you are covered by a reciprocal health care agreement, you will be eligible for some NHS treatment even if your course lasts for less than six months.

If you are not from a country in the EEA or a country with a reciprocal health agreement and your course of study is for less than six months (and you’re not studying in Scotland) you will not be entitled to NHS hospital treatment, except in emergencies.

GPs may agree to treat you for free, but this will usually be limited to urgent treatment that cannot be delayed until you return home. You will have to pay for any other treatment as a private patient.

It is therefore very important that you take out medical insurance for the duration of your visit to the UK if you are not eligible for free or subsidised treatment on the NHS. If you do not have insurance, private treatment could prove very expensive.

Find out more about healthcare for international students in the UK.

Image credit: Andrea De Martin