3 Ways to Keep Your Children Covered When Studying Abroad

Aug 31, 2016

Tips for Overage Dependent StudentsSummer’s nearly over and your child has just dropped exciting news that they’ve been accepted to study abroad! The next few weeks will be a whirlwind of organizing passports, visiting consulates for visas, downloading maps, and…..oh yes, what about health care?  Long before that trip to the airport and even before you drag out the suitcases, dust off your benefits plan booklet and read it. Carefully. Because failure to do so could cost you. A lot.

But don’t be too alarmed. It’s actually quite simple as long as you keep in mind three things: What, Where and When. So let’s dig in and uncover some surprising myths about insurance and then look at a strategy to save you time, trouble and money.



MYTH: Your group insurance will continue to cover non-emergency and emergency care for your child while they study abroad and will assume continued student status.

FACT: Group insurance coverage distinguishes between emergency and non-emergency care with varying coverage amounts. Continued coverage as a student needs to be regularly confirmed.

SOLUTION: Clarify coverage for non-emergency and emergency care. Confirm student status for your child.



MYTH: All out-of-province/country health insurance coverage is the same.

FACT: Each province/country has its own domestic healthcare requirements which may or may not be covered by your benefits plan group travel insurance. For example, if your child is studying in the US, some plans do not meet Obamacare requirements for coverage (also known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act). In this case, your child is deemed an international student and will be required to purchase additional medical coverage through the destination school.

SOLUTION: Check with the destination school to see if the cost of this ‘extra’ coverage is already included in their fees. If it is, note the amount, because it is likely more expensive through the school than buying coverage before leaving Canada.



MYTH: Our provincial and group health benefits plan will continue to offer regular medical coverage for however long my child is studying abroad.  

FACT: Well yes, they do cover your child outside the country. BUT most provinces limit coverage after a specific period of time and it can vary. For instance, in BC coverage stops after six months out of the country. AND group health benefits insurance companies impose their own time limits that are often referred to in days, ie., 60, 90, 180 rather than months like the provincial insurer. So it’s important to make sure all the dates line up between the program duration, provincial health coverage and group insurance coverage.

SOLUTION: First, check the last date of your child’s program. Then check with your provincial health care provider and simply ask for a coverage extension beyond the allowable limits. Not all provinces will do this but you may be lucky. Then check the specific day limits on your group insurance and apply to extend coverage on an exception basis if necessary.


Education can be expensive already and unexpected health care costs can add to the challenge so a little preparation goes a long way. Some things going in that suitcase will be one size fits all, but don’t assume  health care coverage is one of them.

And if your child announces they’re going traveling AFTER their program finishes and AFTER their health coverage ends well, then you have to start all over again.

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