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International Health and Travel Insurance

If you are coming to Cambridge from outside the United Kingdom you should bear in mind that only emergency medical treatment is free of charge.  Medical treatment and the costs of repatriation after a serious accident are not covered by the National Health Service (NHS) and therefore, you must have insurance to cover all medical expenses internationally and disruptions to travel.  

International Health Insurance

International health insurance provides medical cover in case of illness abroad. Normally, you will have to purchase international health insurance through your home university or another provider. It is your responsibility to determine if your insurance policy provides adequate coverage while abroad.  Here are some important points you need to consider:

  • Does the policy cover medically necessary care, not just emergency treatment?
  • Does the policy cover hospitalisation for accidents and illness?
  • Is there a financial limit to the amount of coverage provided?
  • Does the policy provide cover for the whole duration of the time abroad?
  • Are the start and end dates sufficient for the full stay abroad?
  • Does the policy cover visits to the doctors and the costs of any prescribed medication?
  • Does the policy cover pre-existing medical conditions?
  • If the student is already studying in a country other than their home country, does the policy cover the student while studying in the UK?
  • Does the policy cover the student for medical care in their home country if the student needs to leave the study abroad programme early for medical or other reasons?
  • Does the policy cover time spent travelling outside the UK, such as during the vacations?
  • Does the policy provide in- and out-patient mental health coverage?
  • Does the policy cover any condition contracted while abroad?

  Inside the European Economic Area (EEA), free or reduced-cost emergency treatment may be available to EU patients with a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).  General information and how to apply for a card is available on the European Commission website.  The EHIC however should not be considered a replacement for international health insurance.  

Travel Insurance

In addition to international health insurance, you need to purchase travel insurance.  Travel insurance is important as it covers emergency medical evacuation, repatriation of remains, evacuation in times of a political emergency, lost baggage, trip interruption, delay or cancellation, and cover against loss, theft or damage to personal possessions while abroad, among other benefits. Please note that neither international health insurance nor travel insurance provide sufficient insurance cover on their own! You need both!  

Using Insurance

Once international health and travel insurance have been acquired you need to think about the following points before travelling abroad:

  • What are the procedures for making a claim while abroad?  Will expenses need to be paid for up front and then reimbursed by the insurance company on submission of the receipts, for instance?  If so, should a small amount of cash, traveller’s cheques or a credit card be kept in reserve for this purpose?  Should blank claim forms be taken abroad?
  • What is needed to show proof of insurance coverage, to the immigration authorities or university overseas for instance, or to use it?

  Please note that the advice on this page is intended for your guidance only.  It remains your responsibility if you have concerns about health care provision to contact your home health care provider for advice.