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What EU students need to know about insurance while studying abroad

There are different requirements for EU students when it comes to getting insurance while studying abroad. Source: Shutterstock

Every year, hundreds of thousands of EU citizens travel the world in pursuit of education. Last year, Germans made up the fourth-largest international student cohort in the US while in the UK, there were more than 80,000 EU-origin undergraduates enrolled within the country’s higher education institutions.

The pursuit of a quality education and study abroad experience is both enlightening and life-changing. To make sure nothing goes wrong or to mitigate untoward consequences, all international students, including those from the EU, should insure themselves during this period.

As an EU citizen, there are certain privileges accorded to this status that you should consider when seeking an insurance plan. Here are the main points you should know about insurance as an EU student studying overseas:

1. European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

Those who have crossed a border to study in another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland can make use of the EHIC. This free-of-charge card lets you get medically necessary, state-provided healthcare in your country of study under the same conditions and at the same cost as people insured in that country. Sometimes, the healthcare provided may come free.

A valid European Health Insurance Card lets EEA citizens access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in another EEA country or Switzerland. Source: Shutterstock

Your national health insurance provider will issue this card. Take note that this doesn’t cover private healthcare, is not an alternative to travel insurance and does not guarantee free services.

2. Private insurance

For those studying in countries outside the EEA and Switzerland, it’s necessary to get both health and travel insurance from private providers. You should acquire the necessary student protection before departing your home country.

EU students should also get themselves a valid private travel insurance policy to supplement their EHIC before traveling abroad.

3. Comprehensive Sickness Insurance (CSI)

Under EU law, any EEA citizen gets right of entry to the UK (note: this may change drastically after the UK officially leaves the EU). However, a right of residence is only granted to self-sufficient people and students, both of whom must have CSI.

An EHIC can be used as proof of CSI provided EU/EEA students declare they don’t intend to stay in the UK permanently. Take note that if you make this declaration, it may affect your future application for UK permanent residence, an administrative paradox that has yet to be resolved.

With the onset of the UK leaving the EU, the UK government has assured that these two groups of people don’t need to demonstrate they have been holding CSI when applying for “settled status”:

“We will not require students and self-sufficient people living here to prove that they have held comprehensive sickness insurance when they apply for settled status in the UK. Students and self-sufficient people living here can still be granted settled status even if they have never held this,” the UK Home Office said earlier this year.

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