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Student travel insurance

What could be better for broadening the mind than combining travel with studying? But before you jet off, make sure you get the right student travel insurance. Here’s what you need to know…

What could be better for broadening the mind than combining travel with studying? But before you jet off, make sure you get the right student travel insurance. Here’s what you need to know…

Written by
Kate Hughes
Insurance expert
Last Updated
19 MAY 2023
6 min read
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What is student travel insurance?

Student travel insurance protects you financially against a host of unfortunate events that could spoil your trip. These include covering the cost of medical treatment if you have an accident and replacing your luggage if it goes missing.

Student travel cover isn’t a one-size-fits-all policy, though. How long you’ll be away for, where you’re going and what you’ll be doing when you get there will all have an impact on the type of cover you need.

Hopefully you’ll never need to make a claim, but student travel insurance gives you peace of mind, whether you’re heading abroad for a work placement or seeing more of the world on a gap year.

Customers with pre-existing medical conditions

If you have a serious health condition, your travel insurance is likely to be more expensive. Whatever happens, don’t lie to an insurance provider, because this could mean your claim is rejected. When you declare any medical conditions on our website, we’ll only show you quotes from insurance providers who will cover them, with no exclusions.

If your condition is more serious, MoneyHelper has a directory of insurance providers who may be able to provide quotes over the phone. You can call them on 0800 138 7777.

What type of travel insurance do students need?

Picking the right travel insurance policy for students is all about matching it to the specifics of your itinerary, as well as your study or work placement requirements.

Here are some common types of travel insurance cover that may be compatible with working, training or studying abroad:

  • Single trip covers you for one trip (for single or multiple destinations). Cover starts when you leave your home in the UK and ends when you get back. There’s a maximum amount of time that you can be away for on one trip. It’s usually 31 days, but you may be able to travel for as long as a year under a student travel policy.
  • Annual cover — or a multi-trip policy — typically covers you for a year from your selected start date. You can travel multiple times to destinations in the region covered by the policy, for as long as it lasts.
  • Backpacker or extended trip insurance offers cover for a longer single trip, usually spreading across many months and visiting several countries along the way. It’s a great choice if you’re heading abroad for your gap year.
  • Volunteer travel insurance is tailored to give you the protection you need when volunteering abroad.

If you’re travelling with other people, you can also find joint travel insurance (also called couples cover) and group travel insurance policies that will cover you as a student.

What does student travel insurance cover?

Typically, student travel insurance will cover:

  • Emergency medical treatment – if you fall ill or get injured while you’re away, you’ll be covered for the cost of treatment, overnight stays and repatriation back to the UK if needed.
  • Lost, stolen or damaged baggage – offers cover if your luggage or other possessions go missing or get damaged.

  • Delayed or cancelled flights – if strikes or bad weather, for example, disrupt your flight, then you can claim for delays over a stated length of time.
  • Holiday cancellation – this could cover the cost of your holiday if you need to cut it short or abandon it altogether, due to a reason listed in the policy.

If you’re planning any high-risk activities during your time away, you might also want to pay a bit extra to add tailored cover to your travel insurance.

  • Sports travel cover can normally be added to policies to cover adventurous sports, including horse-riding and scuba diving.
  • Extreme sports travel insurance is perfect for adrenaline junkies. Insurance providers have different classifications for which sports are classed as extreme, so always read the policy carefully.
  • Winter sports travel insurance is a necessity if you’ll be hitting the slopes while you’re away.

What isn’t covered by student travel insurance?

All policies are slightly different, but there are some common exclusions to look out for with student travel insurance:

  • Paid work – if you’ll be working while you’re away, you’ll need to notify your travel insurance provider. They may not cover work that’s considered risky (such as manual labour), or you may need to add on extra cover to make sure you’re protected.
  • Existing medical conditions that you haven’t declared. You’ll need to tell your insurance provider about any medical conditions. They may choose not to cover them or to charge you more for cover.
  • Claims related to accidents or incidents that took place while you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Incidents caused by your carelessness – for example, leaving your bag unattended.
  • Travel to a destination if the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) has issued a warning advising against travel to that country or region.

Why do I need travel insurance when studying abroad?

If you’re heading overseas as part of your education, having travel insurance for students studying abroad is a good idea in case anything goes wrong.

Although it might be tempting to give travel insurance a miss if you’re on a tight budget, you might come to regret it. When you consider that the cost of treating an infection in the USA could run to £100,000, student travel insurance offers a valuable financial safety net.

Having travel cover, or at least medical insurance, could also be part of your course entry requirements.

How can I find the best student travel insurance for a year abroad?

Compare the Market can help you find student travel insurance for your trip. We’ll show you a list of quotes based on the type of cover you’re looking for, where you’re going and the excess you’re willing to pay – this is the amount you put towards each claim.

But remember, the cheapest policy isn’t necessarily the best. Some student insurance policies will cover you during your studies but not your holidays. There may also be low limits on how much you can claim for lost or stolen belongings like a laptop or musical instrument.

Always check the policy details carefully to make sure you’re covered for everything you need to be.

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Frequently asked questions

Can I use a GHIC/EHIC instead of student travel insurance?

If you’re travelling to the EU or Switzerland, a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or EHIC that’s still in date entitles you to medical treatment on the same basis as residents of that country.

A GHIC has limitations though, and won’t cover repatriation if you need to come back to the UK. It also won’t cover other travel-related incidents like flight delays or lost luggage, so it’s not a substitute for a good student travel insurance policy.

Can I travel anywhere with student travel insurance?

Overseas travel insurance typically fits into one of three destination categories:

  • Europe
  • Worldwide (excluding the USA, Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico)
  • Worldwide (including the USA, Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico).

Surprisingly, you may find that some providers include Europe-adjacent countries like Morocco and Tunisia within European travel insurance. Less surprisingly, travel insurance for the USA is normally more expensive because of the potential for higher medical costs.

Is travel insurance a legal requirement for studying or working abroad?

Student travel insurance isn’t usually required by law, but it’s definitely a good idea. That said, some countries have made travel insurance a condition of entry since the Covid-19 pandemic. Be sure to check any requirements for the places you’re visiting before you set off.

Travel insurance for students may also be required by an institution you’re studying at, as a condition of the placement.

Can students get a discount on travel insurance?

Some insurance providers who specialise in covering students may offer a discount. You’ll need to be a registered student and, depending on the policy, there may be age limits.

To find the best student travel insurance deal, it’s a good idea to compare all your options to make sure you get the cover you need.

When should I take out student travel insurance?

As with any travel policy, you should buy your student travel insurance as soon as you’ve booked your trip. That’s because it will cover you if you need to cancel your travel plans unexpectedly for a reason listed on the policy. This could be a family illness or an injury that prevents you from travelling.

Will student travel insurance cover my gadgets?

If the value of your tech is more than the personal belongings limit in your travel policy, you might want to add gadget cover to your insurance for an extra cost. That way, your expensive smartphone, laptop and headphones etc will be protected against loss, theft and damage.

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Kate Hughes - Insurance and finance expert

As an award-winning journalist, author and broadcast commentator, Kate has been writing about personal finance for more than 20 years. She’s the former Money Editor for The Independent. Her work has appeared across the UK broadsheets as well as a number of international titles. Kate brings her financial expertise to inform her readers on ways to save money. She’s also written a book. ‘Going Zero: One Family’s Journey to Zero Waste and a Greener Lifestyle’ is available now.

Learn more about Kate

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