Do you dream of experiencing the rich local culture of a student studying abroad in Spain? Did you know that your Spanish student visa can be denied on account of your health insurance? Are you unsure about the best insurance options for a long or short course or degree completed overseas? Take a look at the article below for all the answers!
When you’re planning a trip to study overseas, getting a health international plan often ends up at the end of your very long to-do list.
But this step is essential to make sure you have a safe and enjoyable experience during your exchange program. Plus, having a good insurance plan also happens to be a requirement to get your student visa!
With this thought, I made this list of the best insurance options for students in Spain, alongside some other info that I think is important for all students studying in Spain to know.
Let’s get reading!
Do international students in Spain need health insurance?
I always think it’s important to emphasize that the main reason to get a health insurance policy is so you have guaranteed coverage in case you need any kind of medical support in your new country of residence.
However, there are plenty of other reasons to get your travel insurance policy before (yes, before!) you travel. And one of the most significant is that having health insurance is a requirement to enter Spain since it’s part of the Schengen Area.
Entry requirements and health insurance for Europe can seem a little complicated since some European countries don’t require health insurance for their visitors. But all the countries that make up the Schengen Area do have this requirement.
As with much of Europe, Spain is part of this agreement. So it’s very important to pay close attention to the rules when it’s time to buy your policy.
Below, I’ll explain a bit more about what the Schengen Area is. But for now, it’s important that you know this: although it’s not a guarantee that you’ll be asked to show proof of your insurance upon entry, it’s always possible that they will ask to see it at immigration after you disembark.
So, I always highly recommend that you get an insurance policy and keep proof of it in hand when you embark on your trip.
What is the Schengen Area?
The Schengen Zone, also called the Schengen Agreement, is an agreement that guarantees the free movement of people between the participating countries. In other words, there are no border checks or immigration officials between the various borders, and you can cross from one to the other freely.
If you’re from a country that requires you to have a Schengen Visa (you can see the list of those here), though it’s not a requirement for Americans, Canadians, Australians, etc.), with this single visa you’ll also be free to travel among the 26 countries that make up the agreement.
What are the insurance requirements and minimum coverage needed for international students in Spain?
Your insurance policy must:
- Have a minimum coverage of 30,000 euros
- Be valid for the entire period of time you plan to reside in the country
- Cover medical and funeral repatriation a
- Offer valid coverage in all of Spain
- Not be a policy that works with a reimbursement system or has a deductible
Note: although many of the policies below should be able to cover you during your studies in Spain, ALWAYS double-check with your educational institution for the most up-to-date insurance requirements. Some institutions may request larger coverage than the minimum required to enter the Schengen Area.
Additional requirements from your educational institution can make the difference between your student visa being accepted or rejected. So always read the fine print closely and reach out to your institution if you have questions.
Who can use the international student health insurance plans listed below?
The insurance companies that I recommend below are for students that live or plan to live in Spain, but they also work if you want to become an expat, immigration, worker, or digital nomad in most other places in the world
The insurance companies below work with the following citizens:
- Anyone from the European Union (Portuguese, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Polish, Belgian, Swedish, etc.)
- Kiwis/New Zealanders
- And for citizens of almost any other country
Beyond students that reside in Spain, these companies also offer coverage for people who live in:
- The United States
- And for students that live in almost any other country in the world
Overall, all of the plans that I recommend below are international. Or in other words, they can be used in practically any other country in the world by citizens from any country in the world (with just a few exceptions).
What are the 5 best health insurance plans for exchange students in Spain?
The search for the right international health insurance can be stressful. To make this process a bit easier, I created a detailed list of the top insurance companies that I recommend. After the list, you’ll find a table with some additional information that you can use to compare all the plans.
As always, I recommend that you get a quick quote online with all of the companies listed below. Although this might take you a bit of time, at the end of the day it can save you a lot of money.
Note: the companies that I list below are all international companies. If you are a Brazilian and would rather work with a Brazilian company, make sure to read my Portuguese article here and look at options 6 and 7.
IMG is a company with a wide range of insurance plans for international students and expats.
They have 3 plans made to meet the needs of students living in another country. However, one of them is made exclusively for students that plan to study in the United States. So I’ll just talk about the two that you could use while studying in Spain below.
IMG Option #1: Student Health Advantage
This plan was made especially for international students. Because of this, it’ll likely meet the requirements of your educational institution (though I still always recommend you confirm this directly with your school anyway!).
One thing that makes this plan stand out is that it offers some types of coverage that many other plans don’t. Like coverage for maternity care, mental health, and pre-existing conditions.
This particular IMG plan also has coverage for Covid-19 treatments. Though like any other illness, this is subject to the specific terms of the policy.
IMG Option #2:Student Health Advantage Platinum
This plan is very similar to the one above, but with one major difference. The Platinum plan has double the maximum coverage, with up to $1,000,000 USD guaranteed in coverage.
Pros of student insurance from IMG:
- Their plans are made especially to meet the needs of students
- They have customer support available 24 hours a day
- They cover Covid-19 and telehealth appointments
- They offer their services to students of all nationalities
Cons of student insurance from IMG:
- For some of their plans, there is a 1-year waiting period for pre-existing condition coverage
One of the largest health insurance companies on the market is Cigna Global. They have a variety of plans for travelers, expats, and international students.
Although they don’t have plans made specifically for students, most of their plans will still cover you anyway. There are 3 main plan options: Silver, Gold, and Platinum. All 3 of these plans are valid in Spain as well as in the rest of the world (though if you want coverage in the United States, you’ll need to pay for a more expensive policy).
Take a look at the comparative table below for more info about each plan:
Cigna’s plans are very flexible. So if you want to add additional coverage to your plan (like ophthalmologist or dental care), it’s very simple to do so.
Another advantage of Cigna is that they have flexible payment options that let you choose from monthly, trimesterly, or annual payments.
Pros of international student insurance from IMG:
- They have quick support – according to their website, 95% of reimbursement requests are processed in 10 days
- They have 24/7 customer support
- They have an online help center with a list of more than 3,000 hospitals
- They have a partnership with more than 1.65 million hospitals, clinics, specialists, and doctors all around the world
Cons of international student insurance from IMG:
- Their most basic plan doesn’t offer pre- or post-natal coverage
- They don’t have coverage for outpatient consultations with specialists
In search of basic or more extensive coverage? Have plans to stay in Spain short- or long-term? Moving alone or with your family?
No matter what your answers to these questions are, I’m sure that Foyer Global Health has a plan that fits your exact situation.
Basically, Foyer has 3 plans to choose from. Here are some more details about the coverage included in each.
Foyer Global Health Plan #1: ESSENTIAL
- Appointments, surgeries, and anesthetics
- Congenital diseases up to 100,000 euros
- Devices like cardiac pacemakers when needed as a rescue measure
- No coverage for maternity or childbirth
Foyer Global Health Plan #2: SPECIAL
- Appointments, surgeries, and anesthetics
- Congenital diseases up to 150,000 euros
- Devices and aids like artificial limbs and prostheses up to 2,000 euros
- Up to 5,000 euros for maternity and childbirth (with a 10-month waiting period)
Foyer Global Health Plan #3: EXCLUSIVE
- Appointments, surgeries, and anesthetics
- Congenital diseases up to 200,000 euros
- Unlimited devices and aids
- Up to 20,000 euros for maternity, childbirth, midwife services, or hospital nursing care (with a 10-month waiting period)
Pros of international student insurance from Foyer Global Health:
- All of their plans include coverage for basic dental treatments, appointments, and surgery
- They have 24/7 customer support with consultants, doctors, and specialists
- They have repatriation and evacuation services
- They offer medical support and pre-trip advice (on things like necessary vaccines and the preparation of a first aid kit)
Cons of international student insurance from Foyer Global Health:
- Their basic plan doesn’t include pre- or post-natal care
- Their plans can be a bit more expensive than some of the others on this list
HCCMIS is another great insurance company for students. Besides their great travel insurance options, they also have plenty of great international health insurance options for overseas students.
Below, you’ll find more details about the 4 levels of coverage for student health insurance that HCCMIS has on offer.
HCCMIS Plan #1: StudentSecure Elite
- The lowest deductibles and the highest coverage on offer
- 6-month waiting period for pre-existing conditions to be covered
- Includes coverage for club or intercollegiate sports
- Includes personal responsibility coverage
HCCMIS Plan #2: StudentSecure Select
- Lower maximum coverage (and lower monthly cost, too)
- 6-month waiting period for pre-existing conditions to be covered
- Option to add on Crisis Response Rider for rescue coverage
HCCMIS Plan #3: StudentSecure Budget
- 12-month waiting period for pre-existing conditions to be covered
- Medium coverage with a higher deductible
HCCMIS Plan #4: StudentSecure Smart
- The cheapest plan available (with the lowest benefits as well)
- Highest deductibles of all the plans
- Only covers pre-existing conditions at their acute onset
- Does not cover club sports
Take a look at the comparison below of HCC’s 4 StudentSecure plans (click to see the chart in more detail):
Pros of StudentSecure insurance from HCCMIS:
- They have some of the cheapest plans on this entire list
- You have 4 plans to choose from (and they are all made especially for students)
- They offer a discount if you pay the full plan amount upfront
- Their plans include coverage for dental emergencies in case of accidents (up to $250 USD per tooth or $500 USD in total)
Cons of StudentSecure insurance from HCCMIS:
- The Smart plan doesn’t have any pre-existing condition coverage
- In other plans, there is a 6-month waiting period for pre-existing conditions
- With the exception of the Elite plan, their plans don’t cover vaccines
- The Smart plan doesn’t have maternity or nursery coverage
- The low-cost plans have very high deductibles
Global Underwriters has some good options for international health insurance plans for a wide range of travelers, including international students or students studying abroad.
There are two plans from GU that I recommend for students in Spain. They are the Diplomat Long Term and the Diplomat International plan.
Pros of international student insurance from Global Underwriters:
- Their student plans include coverage for medical evacuations, repatriation of mortal remains, and emergency dental
- They also offer travel-related coverage for lost baggage or trip interruptions
- Some of their plans offer coverage of up to $1,000,000 USD
- They have customer service 24/7
Cons of international student insurance from Global Underwriters:
- The Diplomat Long Term plan isn’t available to students with residency in Australia and Iran, nor the American states of New York, South Dakota, and Maryland (though this shouldn’t be a problem if you’re going to live in Spain!)
- The Diplomat International plan doesn’t have Covid-19 coverage
- Their plans can be a little more expensive than those of the other companies on this list
Comparison table between the best health insurance for students/exchangers in Spain
|Cigna Global||Foyer Global Health||HCCMIS|
|Medical Maximum||Unlimited (for the Platinum plan)||$5,000,000||There are no limits independent of the plan||US$1,000,000 per year||$1,000,000|
|Mental Health Benefit||Unspecified||Unlimited for up to 90 days||Included in all plans with a 10-month waiting period||Outpatient: $50 per day max up to $500 in total||Yes|
|Inpatient Prescription Drugs||80% coverage out-of-network, 100% in the USA and internationally||Unspecified||Coverage available||Name-brand drugs: 50% coinsurance
Generic drugs: 100% coinsurance
Special drugs: no coverage
|Outpatient Prescription Drugs||50% of actual costs, 90 days maximum per dispensation||Unspecified||Unspecified||coinsurance
Generic drugs: 100% coinsurance
Special drugs: no coverage
|Mental Health Benefit||Inpatient and Outpatient: $5,000 lifetime maximum to paid in full depending on the plan||Inpatient and Outpatient: $50,000 lifetime maximum||None||Inpatient and Outpatient: limit not specified||Inpatient, outpatient, and therapy: limit not specific|
|Outpatient Prescription Drugs||None, unless you buy the International Outpatient Option||Up to $8,000,000||Full reimbursement||Yes||Yes|
|Repatriation of Remains||$25,000 maximum or $5,000 for cremation||Optional||Optional||$50,000 maximum or $5,000 for cremation||$13,500 maximum|
|Hospital room coverage||Offered up to the average semi-private room rate||Private room||Private Room||Usual||Usual|
|Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD & D)||Principal sum of $25,000 that is not subject to deduction||$25,000 for main policy holder, $10,000 for spouse on the plan, $5,000 for child on the plan
Total limit of $250,000
|Optional||$25,000 for main policy holder, $10,000 for spouse on the plan, $5,000 for child on the plan
Total limit of $250,000
|There is coverage|
|Emergency Dental||$500 per injury for the coverage period||Optional||Optional||$2,500||Yes|
|Maternity Care||Only covered in Platinum plan||$14,000/€11,000/£9,000 in the Platinum plan||Only available in the Special and Exclusive plans||Within the US: up to 80% coverage with a $25,000 limit within the PPO network/Outside PPO: up to 50% coverage with a $25,000 limit
Outside the United States:
Up to 80% coverage with a $25,000 limit. Benefits reduced by 25% if pregnancy is not reported within the first 90 days.
|Pre-existing condition exclusion period||Maximum limit of $1,500 with a 12-month waiting period||$14,000/€11,000/£9,000 in the Platinum plan||Coverage available||Limited of $250,000 per plan||Unspecified|
|Intensive Care Unit (ICU)||100% coverage after the deductible has been met||Full coverage with the Platinum plan||Coverage available||Up to $50,000||Not specified|
|Vaccines||Unspecified||Optional||Only in the Special and Exclusive plans||$200||Yes, but must be paid as a separate plan|
|Routine care for newborns||Unspecified||Optional||Only in the Special and Exclusive plans||Up to $750||Yes, but must be paid as a separate plan|
|Pre-existing annual maximum once covered||Unlimited depending on the plan||Up to $8,000,000||Full reimbursement||Unlimited depending on the plan||Depends on the plan|
|Pre-existing lifetime maximum once covered||Unlimited depending on the plan||Up to $8,000,000||Full reimbursement||Unlimited depending on the plan||Depends on the plan|
Worldwide Medical Insurance / Comparison Chart*
Part of the table courtesy of Tokio Marine HCC
2 “Bonus” international health insurance companies that can also be used by students in Spain
The two final companies listed below don’t have health insurance plans specifically made for international students. However, both offer international health insurance plans with wide-ranging coverage that will, most likely, also be accepted by your educational institution.
So here’s my advice: get a quote with these two companies below and compare it with what you get from the options listed above. If one of them offers better coverage or a lower price than the others, check in with your education institution to see if the plan will be accepted as proof of coverage.
If they confirm it’ll be accepted, this can be a great way to save some extra money before your new adventure!
Aetna is one of the largest and most well-known health insurance providers out there.
The biggest benefit of Aetna is that their plans are totally flexible, giving you many options to personalize each plan based on exactly what you need. Plus, they are known for great customer service that has good reviews overall.
Pros of international insurance from Aetna:
- Aetna has 50 years of experience with insurance and has won multiple awards (like “Health Insurance of the Year” and more)
- They have customer service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
- Their plans have flexible and personalized coverage
- They have an interactive, point-based app to help incentivize health habits
- A large number of their plans offer coverage for cancer treatments, repatriation, hospitalizations, and emergency evacuation
Cons of international student insurance from Aetna:
- The coverage limits for their plans aren’t very clear on their website (so you have to reach out to the company for more details)
- They don’t have travel insurance, only international insurance
GeoBlue is another option that I often recommend if you’re looking for insurance. And if you’re rather adventurous or into extreme sports, it’s an extra good choice.
Pros of international insurance from GeoBlue:
- Very flexible plans
- Customer service available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
- Some of their plans offer coverage evacuations, maternity care, and preventative medicine
- You can add additional coverage for eye and dental care
- There is no medical coverage maximum or deductibles that need to be met
- They cover extreme sports
- The Xplorer plan doesn’t have a cancelation fee
Cons of international insurance from GeoBlue:
- They don’t serve residents of New York or Washington (although this shouldn’t be an issue if you’re officially moving your residency to Spain!)
- You have to get in contact with an insurance broker and speak to them personally to get an exact quote (which is pretty annoying)
Types of courses that international students can take in Spain to get a student visa
Now that you know what the best health insurance options are for international students in Spain, you should probably know what you’re going to be studying in the country. But if not, don’t worry!
Below I’ve listed out a few of the most popular types of courses for anyone who wants to move to Spain to study. I hope this list helps you make your decision!
Spain is an incredible place to learn a language, and is one of the most popular choices for Spanish. Given how rich it is culturally, you’ll be able to dive headfirst into a destination full of surprising traditions.
But Spanish isn’t the only language to choose from in the country. You can also embark on an adventure to learn Catalan, Basque, Gallego, or Aranese.
You can enroll in language courses that vary anywhere from 1 month to 1 year.
Professional courses & certifications
In Spain, secondary education is broken up into two parts: mandatory secondary education for students aged 12 to 16, and the “baccalaureate” for students aged 16 to 18.
Once they complete their baccalaureate, students can choose to pursue professional training, which is only 2 years and gives direct access to the universities. As a foreigner, you can enroll in these very same professional courses and certifications.
This isn’t one of the most popular options as it can be quite expensive. Even the public universities in Spain are paid, and often tend to be even more expensive for foreign students.
However, there are some programs and exchanges that can give you the opportunity to study in Spain for free, such as the famous Erasmus+ Program.
Post-graduate degree, specialized degree, or MBA
If you’re interested in professional development, these 3 courses are great options. Not only will you be able to study overseas, but you’ll also complete your coursework in another language (which is an awesome way to make your resume/CV stand out).
The duration of these courses can vary significantly. And in some cases, you can even work while you study.
What are the visa options for studying in Spain?
Anyone with plans to study abroad needs to pay close attention to all the details, including what visas you may qualify for and how to apply.
In Spain, the two most common types of visas requested are student and work visas since most citizens don’t need a visa if they stay less than 90 days.
Studying in Spain with a student visa
To study in Spain for more than 90 days, you’ll need to request a student visa. You can make your request (it’ll likely need to be in-person) at any Spanish General Consulate. So do a quick search to see which one is closest to you, then get all your documents together and prepare your application form.
For students that wish to stay more than 180 days in Spain, they’ll need to get a special permission and then on arrival in Spain request a student residence card.
With only a student visa, you’ll still be allowed to work up to 20 hours a week while studying in Spain. Which can be a great benefit to a student on a budget!
Studying in Spain with a work visa
To get a work visa in Spain, you have to already have a work contract in hand as you’ll have to show this to apply for a visa at your local Spanish consulate.
Beyond this, you’ll also have to have a residence authorization that shows where you will be living during your time spent in the country. This authorization can be requested from the company that hires you.
Spain has a system that prioritizes local workers to avoid unemployment. However, if the position is unable to be filled by a Spanish worker, it becomes available to a foreign one. The cost of a work visa varies, but it’s usually 70 euros and up.
Here are the 5 best and cheapest health insurance policy for international students in Spain:
- Student Health Advantage from IMG
- International health insurance for students from Cigna Global
- Foyer Global Health
- StudentSecure insurance from HCCMIS
- Diplomat Long Term and Diplomat International from Global Underwriters
I hope this list has helped you as you prepare for your adventure overseas. Or that it has, at the very least, convinced you to get a health insurance policy before you embark on your trip and to check the exact insurance requirements from your education institution.
Because at the end of the day, you won’t be able to enroll in your school/university without proof of an insurance policy. And you certainly don’t want to find yourself facing a medical emergency that you have to pay out of pocket!
All that said…if you have any final doubts about the different insurance options for students in Spain or about living overseas in general, just let me know in the comments area below and I’ll get back to you!
Planning your next trip?
This content was originally published here.