Health and travel insurance for international students in NZ

Health and travel insurance is mandatory for all international students studying in New Zealand. We explain which policies are accepted, what they cover, how much they cost, and more.

The breakdown

  • Only some health and travel insurance policies are accepted by New Zealand’s Universities.
  • Policies cost around $800 NZD for a full year.
  • Most universities recommend the Studentsafe Inbound University policy, but there are cheaper policies available that are also accepted.
  • Read this guide in Chinese (Simplified).
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    Author: Kevin McHugh, Head of Publishing at Banked.

    Why do international students need health and travel insurance?

    Student health and travel insurance

    Simply put, it is a legal requirement for all international students studying in New Zealand to have health and travel insurance during their period of study. This is set out in the New Zealand government’s Education (Pastoral Care of Tertiary and International Learners) Code of Practice 2021.

    This requirement is in place to protect international students from unexpected and high costs of medical care that might be required while in the country.

    New Zealand does have a public health care system that offers subsidised health care, but this is not available to international students. However, thanks to ACC, international students are still covered for medical costs if they are involved in an accident.

    What is ACC?

    If you are injured in New Zealand as the result of an accident, any medical costs involved will be covered by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) and in most cases there will be no cost to pay.

    ACC covers everyone in New Zealand, including visitors such as international students. However, ACC only covers medical costs relating to accidents — it does not cover illness, issues relating to ageing, or emotional issues.

    For example, if you fall over and break a bone, ACC will cover your medical costs. But if you contract an illness, such as COVID-19, Measles, or something more serious, ACC will not cover the costs — but health and travel insurance will.

    You are automatically covered by ACC as soon as you enter New Zealand. You do not have to apply for ACC and there is no cost to pay.

    Learn more about ACC on its website.

    What does health and travel insurance cover?

    Health and travel insurance (sometimes called ‘medical and travel insurance’) has a wide range of benefits that will protect you as you study in New Zealand. These benefits can be broken down into the following categories.

    Medical treatment and related expenses

    Health and travel insurance will cover the costs of medical cover during the duration of the policy. This includes emergency medical treatment, emergency dental treatment, optical care, and treatment for mental illness.

    It will also cover funeral and repatriation expenses. Note that if you are repatriated to your country of origin, the policy may not continue to cover the cost (or it will cover less of the cost) of medical treatment while you are in your home country.

    You or your family will also be compensated if you die or become disabled.

    Travel disruption

    A health and travel insurance policy will compensate you if your travel is disrupted in some way. For example, you can claim:

    • if you lost a deposit for travel
    • for expenses related to delays in travel
    • if you missed a transport connection.

    You will also be covered for the loss or damage to your luggage, some property, money, and travel documents.

    Personal liability

    Personal liability covers the expenses involved if you become legally liable for damage you cause through your negligence. This might be damage you cause to someone’s property or it might be an injury you cause someone.

    For example, if you accidentally start a fire in the kitchen of the place where you are living, personal liability cover provided through your health and travel insurance will cover the costs to repair the damage caused.

    What does health and travel insurance not cover?

    While a health and travel insurance policy can cover a lot, it does not cover everything.

    Firstly, while it does insure your personal possessions in some instances (such as your luggage, your mobile phone or laptop computer, or even a bicycle), it is not as comprehensive as contents insurance.

    Contents insurance covers all of your possessions, even larger items such as any furniture you may have. It also covers items up to a larger value. For example, a health and insurance policy may insure your possessions up to a total of $5,000, while a contents insurance policy can cover your possessions up to their total value.

    See our guide to contents insurance for students in New Zealand for more information and to find a suitable policy.

    A health and travel insurance policy also does not cover you while you are driving. Car insurance is not mandatory in New Zealand, but it is recommended as the cost of having an accident can be very high.

    Learn more in our guide to car insurance for students in New Zealand.

    Pre-existing medical conditions

    A pre-existing medical condition is one that you know about before you apply for cover. This could be an illness, such as diabetes or sleep apnea, or a long-term injury.

    Insurance providers do not automatically cover pre-existing medical conditions. For example, if you already have a long-term knee injury when you apply for health and travel insurance, you will not be able to claim for medical treatment for that knee problem on your insurance.

    However, depending on your pre-existing condition, your insurance provider may still be able to provide cover for that condition. It is important to tell your insurance provider about your condition when you apply for cover and discuss whether it can be covered under their policy.

    Which policies are accepted by New Zealand universities?

    University with a tick icon

    In order to study in New Zealand as an international student, you must have an approved health and travel insurance policy. While there are many policies available, not all are accepted by the eight universities of New Zealand.

    While some universities accept more policies than others, there are currently four health and travel insurance policies that all eight universities accept. These are:

    • Studentsafe — Inbound University policy
    • OrbitProtect — International Student Prime Insurance policy
    • Southern Cross — International Student Travel Insurance policy
    • Uni-care — NZ Student Plan policy

    We take a look at each of these policies in more detail below, including what they cover and how much they cost.

    Studentsafe Inbound University policy

    Studentsafe logo

    The Studentsafe Inbound University policy offers cover for individuals and any family members who may be coming to New Zealand with them.

    Most universities recommend the Studentsafe Inbound University policy and some even automatically enter your application for the policy when you enrol with them. However, you always have the option to choose another policy (as long as that policy is also accepted by the university).

    The Studentsafe Inbound University policy is underwritten by Allianz.

    Summary of cover

    Here is a summary of some of the key benefits of the Studentsafe Inbound University policy. All claimable amounts are in New Zealand dollars (NZD).

    CategoryBenefitMaximum claimable amount
    Medical  
     Medical expensesUnlimited
     Emergency dental$500
     Mental illness$20,000
     Accompanying relatives$100,000
     Funeral expenses$100,000
     Repatriation due to mental illness$30,000
    Travel disruption  
     Loss of deposits$100,000
     Travel delay$10,000
     Missed transport connection$25,000
     Deprivation of luggage$1,000
     Replacement of travel documents$3,000
     Money lost or stolen$1,000
    Personal liability  
     Personal liability cover$2,500,000

    An excess of $200 applies for all claims relating to lost or damaged luggage, travel documents, and money. No excess applies to medical claims, personal liability claims, and claims of other types.

    How much does it cost?

    The Studentsafe Inbound University policy offers coverage ranging from one semester to a full year. The following prices are the insurer’s most up-to-date 2024 prices and all prices are in New Zealand dollars.

    • Student, full year: $810
    • Family (couple or student with one child), full year: $1,620
    • Family (couple with child or children), full year: $2,025

    Visit the Insurnacesafe NZ website for full details of what the Studentsafe Inbound University policy covers and to learn more.

    OrbitProtect International Student Prime Insurance policy

    OrbitProtect logo

    The OrbitProtect International Student Prime Insurance policy covers individual students coming to New Zealand for study. However, unlike the Studentsafe policy, it does not offer plans for couples or families.

    The OrbitProtect policy is not as comprehensive as the Studentsafe policy, but it is less expensive (see pricing below).

    OrbitProtect’s policies are underwritten by Zurich Australian Insurance Limited (ZAIL), trading as Zurich New Zealand.

    Summary of cover

    The table below provides a summary of the key benefits offered by the policy. Please see the policy wording for a comprehensive list of all policy benefits.

    CategoryBenefitMaximum claimable amount
    Medical  
     Medical expensesUnlimited
     Emergency dental$500
     Mental illness$20,000
     Funeral expenses$100,000
    Travel disruption  
     Loss of deposits$100,000
     Travel delay$10,000
     Missed transport connection$10,000
     Deprivation of luggage$10,000
     Replacement of travel documents$3,000
     Money lost or stolen$1,000
    Personal liability  
     Personal liability cover$2,500,000

    An excess of $150 applies for all claims relating to lost or damaged personal effects while an excess of $50 applies to personal liability claims.

    How much does it cost?

    It is possible to pay for the OrbitProtect International Student Prime Insurance policy on a monthly basis so you only pay for the cover you need. There is no option to cover family members travelling with you to New Zealand.

    The following price is the insurer’s most up-to-date 2024 and is in New Zealand dollars.

    • Student, full year: $665

    Visit the OrbitProtect website for full details of what the International Student Prime Insurance policy covers and to learn more.

    Southern Cross International Student Travel Insurance policy

    Southern Cross logo

    Like the OrbitProtect policy, the International Student Travel Insurance policy from Southern Cross only offers cover for individuals, not couples or families.

    Southern Cross underwrites its own policies.

    Summary of cover

    Here is a summary of some of the key benefits of the Southern Cross International Student Travel Insurance policy. All claimable amounts are in New Zealand dollars (NZD).

    CategoryBenefitMaximum claimable amount
    Medical  
     Medical expensesUnlimited
     Emergency dental$500
     Mental illness$30,000
     Accompanying personUnlimited
     Funeral expenses$50,000
     RepatriationUnlimited
    Travel disruption  
     Cancelling or changing your journey before you leave$50,000
     Travel interruption$30,000
     Baggage and personal items$25,000
     Replacement of travel documents$1,000
     Money lost or stolen$500
    Personal liability  
     Personal liability cover$1,000,000

    An excess of $250 applies if you make a claim related to:

    • cancelling or changing your journey before or once you have departed
    • baggage or personal items
    • cash, bank cards or travel documents.

    How much does it cost?

    Like other policies, it is possible to get covered under the Southern Cross International Student Travel Insurance policy on a month-by-month basis. However, the prices provided below are for a 12-month period.

    • Student, full year (under 17 years of age): $633
    • Student, full year (aged 18-55 years): $860.25

    Visit the Southern Cross website for full details of what the International Student Travel Insurance policy covers and to learn more.

    Uni-care NZ Student Plan policy

    Uni-care logo

    The NZ Student Plan policy from Uni-care is another insurance policy that is designed for international students studying in New Zealand.

    The policy is underwritten by nib nz limited (“nib”).

    Summary of cover

    The table below contains a summary of some of the benefits offered by the Uni-care NZ Student Plan policy. For full details, be sure to check the policy wording document (see the link further down).

    All amounts are in New Zealand dollars (NZD).

    CategoryBenefitMaximum claimable amount
    Medical  
     Medical expensesUnlimited
     Mental illness$20,000
     Accompanying relatives$20,000
     Funeral expenses$100,000
     Repatriation due to mental illness, suicide & drugs/alcohol$10,000
    Travel disruption  
     Resumption of travel$30,000
     Deprivation of luggage$1,000
     Replacement of travel documents$3,000
     Money lost or stolen$1,000
    Personal liability  
     Personal liability cover$2,500,000

    An excess of $200 applies if you make a claim related to luggage and personal effects. An excess of $100 applies to personal liability claims.

    How much does it cost?

    Uni-care does not publish the cost of its policies on its website so to find out a price you will have to get a quote from them directly.

    Visit the Uni-care website for more details on the policy on its website and to get a quote for cover.

    Other accepted policies

    While the four policies described above are accepted by all of New Zealand’s eight universities, some universities also accept other policies.

    Each university lists policies that they will accept on their websites. A link to the list of each accepted policy for each university can be found below:

    1. University of Auckland
    2. AUT
    3. The University of Waikato
    4. Massey University
    5. Victoria University of Wellington
    6. University of Canterbury
    7. Lincoln University
    8. University of Otago

    Which is the best health and travel insurance policy option?

    Question mark logo

    Each of the accepted policies offers a comparable range of benefits, but there are differences that you should be aware of.

    Overall, the Studentsafe Inbound University policy will be the best choice for most international students for a number of reasons.

    While other policies are accepted by New Zealand’s universities, the Studentsafe Inbound University policy is the only policy that is recommended by the majority of those institutions. And because several of these universities can automatically enrol you for cover when you are accepted for your chosen course of study, there is no need to make a separate application.

    The Studentsafe Inbound University policy is also reasonably priced. At $810 (latest 2024 prices) NZD for a full year’s cover it is cheaper than the Southern Cross International Student Travel Insurance policy ($860.25 NZD for a student aged 18 or over).

    It is not as cheap as the OrbitProtect International Student Prime Insurance policy ($665 NZD for one year), but it is more comprehensive and the maximum claimable amount for several benefits is higher with the Studentsafe policy.

    There are also some convenience benefits when it comes to visiting an on-campus health centre at many universities. If you have a Studentsafe policy, you won’t have to make a claim for any treatment you receive as your insurance details will already be registered with the health centre and they will submit the claim for you.

    Finally, Studentsafe is the only provider that also offers policies that can cover the partners and family members of students coming to New Zealand as part of the same policy. It is possible to arrange additional insurance separately with other providers, but the option to cover all people coming to the country under one policy will make things a little easier for couples and families.

    How do I make an insurance claim?

    New Zealand uses a ‘pay-and-claim’ model for most claim types. This means that if you need a medical consultation or a prescription, for example, you will need to pay for it yourself and then claim the cost back from your insurer.

    If you do need to make a claim you will need to contact your insurance provider. You will need to provide:

    • Your university student ID number
    • Your bank details (for the payment of your claim)
    • All documentation you will need to support your claim. This might be receipts for purchases, medical documentation, a letter from your airline, and so on.

    When you make a claim, you will need to pay an excess.

    What is an excess?

    An excess is an amount you might have to pay when you make a claim before the insurance provider pays the rest. For example, if you break your laptop and make a claim to have it replaced, you will likely need to pay a charge (the excess) before your provider compensates you for a new laptop.

    Not all types of claims involve an excess. Many insurance providers charge an excess for claims relating to the loss or damage or personal effects (such as your luggage, laptop, or a musical instrument). However, there is usually no excess charge involved for claims related to medical treatment.

    Each insurance provider charges a different excess amount, ranging from $50 NZD to $250 NZD.

    Kevin McHugh

    Kevin McHugh

    Kevin is the founder and Head of Publishing at Banked. With years of experience working in personal finance, insurance, and related areas, Kevin created Banked to help Kiwis make better financial decisions.