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ICICI Lombard, Bajaj Allianz General, Tata AIG General Insurance are Providing Insurance Plans for Students Studying in Foreign Universities

From 2011 to 2014, the number of students opting for local insurers has gone up from 30% of the total to 60%

Parents are tensed as the insurance cover for their children studying abroad is insufficient, or the cost of buying a comprehensive policy from a foreign provider is a bit too high. Indian insurers such as ICICI Lombard, Bajaj Allianz General and TATA AIG General Insurance offer plans that could pay for unpredictable expenses on almost anything that a student may come across abroad — bail bonds and drug and alcohol rehabilitation to abortion, suicide attempt and even an emergency visit by a parent to take care of an unwell child. Some years ago, Indian companies offered bare-bone medical and travel insurance. Universities across India ask for a lot more and students often had to purchase insurance plans from foreign insurers who have tie-ups with their institutes. Premiums were usually high.

Presently, student travel insurance doesn't have a wide reach among local companies, but it is progressing fast as the insurers don't want to lose out on the growing opportunity. They have come out with policies that are extensive to fulfill the demands of foreign institutes. For parents, costs are twice as low as the premiums paid to foreign companies. From 2011 to 2014, the number of students opting for local insurers has gone up from 30% of the total to 60% because of the upgraded plans and lower cost, say industry executives. A customer, whose 18-year-old son studies in the US, wants to switch his insurance cover from a US based insurer to an Indian company.

A student studying in a US university at the time of admission had to opt for study-interruption cover as the initial policy included it. This year, he got to know that he could get the same cover from a local insurer for quite less amount. "ICICI Lombard is one such company that offers study interruption provision. Parents have had to pay Rs 1 lakh for an international one, the domestic ones could be purchased for a premium of around Rs 60,000 per year.

In 2012, the company introduced the ICICI Lombard Gold Plan, which included medical emergencies along with stay and trip-related covers like bail bond, study interruption, sponsor protection, two-way compassionate visit and loss of checked-in baggage. Indian general insurers now have started providing student travel policies which also cover expenses on cancer screening, organ transplant, sports injuries, childbirth and physiotherapy. The 'compassionate visit' clause pays for parents' travel and lodgings to take care of an unwell son or daughter studying abroad. Also gaining attention is the study interruption cover, where a student's repeat semester fees are covered in case he misses studies because of a mishap. Bajaj Allianz General Insurance brought in a suicide cover to pay for any hospitalisation bills or other costs from suicide attempts on the insured's behalf. Tata AIG plans to come up with an insurance plan with a $500,000 cover that will include maternity benefits and physiotherapy costs along with drug and alcohol rehabilitation, cancer screening, pregnancy termination and sponsor-protection programmes.