A Complete Guide: New Zealand's International Student Insurance | AJV Global

A Complete Guide: New Zealand's International Student Insurance

by AJV Global
Published on: 22/Sep/2021
If you’re on a student visa in New Zealand, you need insurance for the duration of your stay. Learn everything about insurance for international students.


New Zealand is a safe and peaceful country to study. The friendly locals and a lot of buzz happening around will surely keep you happily occupied while you are not studying. But when it comes to traveling miles away from home, you can’t predict unforeseen circumstances. You might suffer from unexpected illness or injury or even complications due to a change in weather conditions and eating habits. You never know!

So do you need insurance while studying? 

Yes, you do! The New Zealand government requires all international students to have appropriate health and travel insurance during their period of study. The insurance policy should comply with the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students and be accepted by your educational provider. The insurance cover should be of the length of your student visa, and your time traveling to and from New Zealand.

Although it is not mandatory to show proof of health and travel insurance as part of your visa application, you need to declare you will purchase approved insurance coverage. We would, however, strongly recommend that you buy health and travel insurance before you leave your home country to avoid any unnecessary trouble like travel delays or illness on arrival. Since it’s a regulatory requirement and you have to purchase coverage, now or later, why keep it pending. Better to buy one as your visa application is being processed. It’s always best to land fully prepared.

Why do you need insurance?

International students in New Zealand are not eligible for publicly funded health services. They are not covered under the national healthcare system. You will be treated in an emergency regardless of your insurance status. The Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) provides accident insurance for everyone in New Zealand when injured in an accident. But you may still be liable for all other medical and related costs. Not having valid insurance will leave a big hole in your pocket. This is why health and travel insurance play a vital role in your plan to study in New Zealand.

How do you purchase the cover?

Your Offer of Place will automatically include the required health and travel insurance cover as part of your enrolment process. You can purchase the insurance policy when you pay your tuition fees. Premium is paid annually. Part-year students pay a proportion of the annual premium. If your partner or dependent children are joining you in New Zealand, they can also be covered with the same policy. Family insurance is not compulsory, but it is highly recommended. Your education provider will guide you accordingly with the family insurance application procedure.

Choosing an alternative insurance policy

It is not compulsory to take up the insurance policy stated in your offer letter. You can opt for another compliant insurance policy as well. Any insurance policy should satisfy the minimum criteria outlined by your education provider and New Zealand Government. This process can take a bit longer as it goes through various assessments and approvals by the University/college staff. Students usually prefer the insurance coverage prescribed by their education provider as it saves time and unwanted procedures.

How much does the policy cost?

The most recommended insurance providers who have been assessed and are compliant for International Students studying in New Zealand are Studentsafe, Uni-Care Ltd, Southern Cross, and Orbit Protect. You need to pay an extra premium for situations wherein you have a Pre-existing Medical Condition or high-value items. If you have crossed a certain age as outlined by the insurance provider, a premium surcharge will apply. NZ Goods and Services tax, government levies and administration fees are also added. The estimated cost of an annual premium for a standard student insurance policy is as follows:

  • Studentsafe: NZ$670.00 (Family insurance will be NZ$1675.00)
  • Southern Cross: NZ$633.00 (Family insurance will be NZ$1231.00)
  • Orbit Protect: NZ$510 (Prime Plan), NZ$350 (Lite Plan) 

(Please note the premiums above have been cited from the insurance companies official website and are subject to changes.)

What does the policy cover? 

The standard insurance policy includes:

  • Medical and related expenses
  • Optical and emergency dental
  • Repatriation and travel disruption (delays, cancellations)
  • Lost baggage and stolen money
  • Personal accidents
  • Emergencies related to travel documents, credit cards, and personal liability. 

This doesn’t mean you blindly indulge yourself in careless and risky activities relying completely on your insurance coverage. 

General exclusions are:

  • Claims or financial losses related to epidemics or pandemics
  • Vehicle insurance
  • General dental treatment, health checks for visa applications
  • Health screening
  • Medical and dental reviews 
  • Vaccinations
  • Extreme sports as listed in the general exclusions in the policy wording
  • Pregnancy, giving birth, abortion or sexually transmitted disease. 

Review the terms and conditions of your insurance policy properly before purchasing it.

When you have a Pre-existing Medical Condition 

Most insurance policies do not automatically cover Pre-existing Medical Conditions. A Pre-existing Medical Condition is a medical or physical condition that you are aware of beforehand. In such scenarios, you must declare the health condition on your application for admission and visa. Also, you have to submit medical tests reports to Immigration New Zealand while applying for a student visa. Some medical conditions can even result in a visa decline. Hence, it’s better to clarify any Pre-existing Medical Condition at the onset of your planning by speaking to your study adviser.

Pre-existing medical conditions are assessed beforehand by your education provider to check the availability of suitable facilities and medical services to assist you. The usual insurance policy will not always cover all pre-existing health conditions. In such cases, you will have to pay an extra premium for additional insurance cover.

How do you make a claim? 

There are two ways. 

  1. Direct Billing: Direct billing means your insurance company will be notified of your medical costs. They will then pay the hospital directly. 
  2. Pay first – Claim later: This is an option wherein you pay the expenses upfront and claim it later. Insurance companies often have contracts with several doctors and medical institutions. 

For a seamless process of utilizing your insurance policy, it’s better to avail the services of the doctors and hospitals with whom your insurance company has tie-ups.

In a nutshell, health and travel insurance are important and mandatory while studying in New Zealand. As an international student, keep this in mind: No health and travel insurance, no entering New Zealand.

Partner / Author: AJV Global

AJV Global is a New Zealand based ENZ-recognized company. We are an end-to-end education & migration company, with a highly qualified team of advisers licensed by the New Zealand Immigration Advisers Authority and former immigration officers.

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