A recent, popular topic of discussion among parents is undoubtedly overseas studies for their children. Take the popular destination the United Kingdom for example, its government data shows that in the past year, over 8,700 students from Hong Kong successfully obtained a Tier 4 study visa, accounting for 3.5% of the foreign students in UK and ranking fourth globally in that regard1.
With that many families involved in overseas studies, even if children get into an accident in a foreign place, their parents usually have an easier time finding help. But as parents, it’s still worrying to have your children away from their comfort zones for the first time and live abroad by themselves. Currently, quite a few countries require overseas students, prior to studying there, to buy certain government-mandated health services, such as the National Health Service (NHS) of United Kingdom, but how much protection can those services actually provide? Should parents feel assured? Let me Smart Living@Kenneth unpack this for all of you!
Public healthcare protection can be a long wait of 1.5 years
In accordance with legal requirements, parents usually would purchase the relevant health services for their children before departure. Some might even think it would suffice to only fulfil the government requirements. But in fact, many countries, including the United Kingdom, United States, Australia and Canada, all adopt a system separating medical consultation from drug dispensation. Those health services usually allow students to consult a doctor for free, but they will have to bear the prescription cost themselves. An Overseas Student Insurance can therefore plug the gap.
In addition, these services usually only involve public healthcare, and take the United Kingdom for example, it has an acute shortage in public health resources, NHS’s waiting time for non-emergency services can be as long as 18 weeks2. Think about it, are you prepared to let your children wait for 3-4 months before being admitted to a hospital and get the treatment they need? Does that satisfy you as adequate protection? With an Overseas Student Insurance, they would have the flexibility to choose between public and private healthcare services.
Unforeseen risks other than falling ill can pose an urgent need when happy times turn tragic
Studying abroad is a sought-after and rare opportunity for some, so naturally you would want your children to acquire more experiences apart from learning when they go overseas. That thinking however can bring other non-sickness-related risks.
Take internships for example, quite a few people would choose to study hotel management in Switzerland or engineering in the United Kingdom, and some may injure or sprain their legs working in a kitchen or tidying rooms; or fall down in an accident when interning with an engineer. These are common accidents, but may require treatments and a substantial medical fee.
Putting aside these ‘internship accidents’, other mishaps during the study can also incur a huge and sudden expenditure for parents. In one case, a student was studying in the United Kingdom and fell in school after being tangled by classmates, resulting in a fractured right ankle. The student was admitted to hospital and received an Open Reduction and Internal Fixation operation. Fortunately, because the student’s parents had purchased an Overseas Student Insurance, they were awarded full compensation for the medical cost incurred, and received tens of thousands of HK dollars in compensation for the bone fracture accident.
Even more important is the fact that, when children unfortunately have an accident, they would want above all, apart from urgent medical attention, to have their parents by their side. A comprehensive Overseas Student Insurance precisely can provide that urgent assistance in uniting families at desperate times, and compensate for the flights and accommodation of parents flying in, even the annual leave used by them at short notice. And in case your children need to return to Hong Kong to continue treatment, Overseas Student Insurance can also cover that medical cost.
High crime rate: 13,000 burglaries in 3 months
Safety issues in overseas study places are also another area parents need to think about. Compared to Hong Kong, major cities in Europe and the United States have worse security. There are only 300 burglaries for example in Hong Kong in the first 3 months this year3, compared to almost 13,000 in London4 and over 900 in March alone in New York5.
If your children have an Overseas Study Insurance, even if their house is unfortunately burgled, or they were pickpocketed on the streets, they can still claim for compensation for small items such as a mobile phone or a computer, or large ones such as luggage, or even the post-traumatic counselling treatment.
Potential Legal liabilities
Besides medical and property coverage, parents also cannot overlook the potential third-party liabilities for their children. In Europe and the United States, third-party liabilities are a common notion to protect anyone for losses against accidents.
To ensure students’ safety, some renowned institutions in Europe such as the Université catholique de Louvain which rank among top 70 universities in the world according to Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) have required students from non-European-Union countries to purchase third-party insurance before enrolling.
As children embark on foreign life alone for the first time, they will inevitably have moments of carelessness when taking care of themselves, such as when they fail to look after their large belongings and bump into others in an airport or train station, leading to medical costs; or when they forget to turn off the tap at their rented place and cause a flooding in the ceiling for the flat below, leading to maintenance and repair fees, or simple mishaps such as when they ride their bicycles on school ground and crash into a sign, leading to claims by the school. These are all not hard to fathom.
National health services usually only offer medical protection, but lack others such as property protection, personal accident Insurance and third-party liabilities protection, and therefore cannot fully satisfy the needs of overseas students. An insurance tailor-made for overseas studies can give more well-rounded protection to your children.
For more information about overseas studies coverage’s scope and effect, watch this clip:
The above content is reviewed by Mr Kenneth Lai - P&C Distribution Director of AXA Hong Kong and Macau
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We protect students against uncertainties while they are away from home, with medical expenses coverage up to HKD2 millions and personal accident protection up to HKD1.5 million.