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How to Choose the Right Insurance When Studying Abroad in Spain

Every year, more and more American students choose to study in Spain because of its high-quality education system, culture, and low cost of living. However, none of these students base their decision on the expectation that something unfortunate is going to happen to them while they are abroad.  But the reality is, no matter how careful you are, accidents can occur and even the savviest traveler can be a victim of crime if they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time.  That’s why it is crucial to take out an adequate insurance policy.  If you’re about to embark on a study program in Spain, here’s how to choose the right insurance:

For starters, you’re going to need health insurance

Students planning to be in Spain for more than three months need to apply for a student visa, but stretch this to six and you’ll need a residence permit as well.  One of the conditions of your visa and residence permit is to have adequate health insurance.  In practice, this means having at least 30,000 euros of cover (currently around $35,000).  

Costs soon mount up.  According to figures produced by the International Federation of Health Plans in 2012, the average cost of an overnight stay in a Spanish hospital works out at $476 per night.  That’s considerably less than in the US, of course, but nevertheless, the bill soon increases.  An unexpected appendectomy and you’re looking at $2245.  Require evacuation home and it could be anything up to $50,000.  Even a filling at the dentist can cost over $50.  And none of this can be predicted – it’s not like you move abroad planning to break your leg, is it?

Remember that as a US citizen, once you leave the country, your domestic policy isn’t going to cover you.  Once you’ve selected a suitable insurance provider to give you a plan valid in Spain, it’s a really good idea to look at the small print and check the level of cover.  Sometimes the budget policies aren’t sufficient and it’s worth upgrading.  

Be careful not to nullify your insurance

Life involves an element of risk and none of us would want to forgo opportunities just in case something happens to us.  That said, in terms of insurance, you need to balance this with ensuring that you don’t unwittingly leave yourself with no cover at all.  Have an accident under the influence of alcohol or drugs (except for prescribed medication) and you can kiss goodbye to the insurance company paying out if you need to claim.  

Likewise, failing to wear a seatbelt or helmet and taking part in activities deemed risky are also going to leave you without cover.  If you know that there’s a good chance you’ll be doing something during your course (or in the vacations) that leaves you vulnerable in this way, take out additional insurance to cover it.

Think about your possessions too

If you’re planning to study in Spain, chances are you’re going to have a lot more luggage than the average tourist who’d be back home within days or weeks.  While most of our possessions are replaceable, that doesn’t negate the inconvenience – and expense – of having to buy new items if something goes missing, or is damaged or stolen.  Like it or not, some places just come with a higher risk, too.  Many Spanish cities are relatively safe when it comes to crime, but it can happen anywhere.

Think carefully.  What do you need to take and what can be left behind?  Get into the habit of carrying a cell phone in a zipped pocket and backing up important computer files onto a separate hard drive.  Use a safe where available.  But even if you take all reasonable precautions, you’re still not immune from being a crime statistic, so insurance is key.  Calculate how much your valuables and other possessions are worth and then make sure the coverage is enough.

How can we help?

Specialist companies such as Salus Security Services can be very helpful in analyzing the details and briefing you on what you need to know.  They can provide you with an overview of the risks you’ll be exposed to in the part of Spain you’ve chosen.  With this information, you’ll be better placed to work out how to ensure your safety and secure that all important peace of mind.

When traveling abroad, US Traveler Assist is an invaluable aid, providing contacts, trusted advice and assistance when needs arise. Learn more at Follow us on Twitter @us_assist

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