work and travel

Interview with Anna Houben, published in part in the May issue of StudyTravel Magazine

In the May edition of StudyTravel Magazine, an interview with Anna Houben was featured, where we as Insurance Experts for Educational Travel, were one of the participants. The discussion revolved around leveraging technology to improve processes, new insurance products, obstacles encountered and services to assist students with mental health issues. We are grateful to StudyTravel Magazine for shedding light on these important topics in our industry.

What countries do you operate in?

CareMed International Insurance is a German-American insurance provider with 35 years of experience working with partners in the Educational Travel sector and insureds worldwide. While our focus is on Europe, we also offer coverage globally to cater to the needs of students traveling internationally.

What type of cover do you offer?

CareMed offers coverage tailored to the needs of young people exploring the world, including health/accident insurance, accident indemnity, third-party liability, return trip emergency, luggage, travel delay and trip cancelation coverage. Especially when dealing with young people, it is not just about providing suitable cover and meeting requirements but also about service and consulting. We offer pre-departure programs to our partners, for example, training sessions on what to do in case of emergency and help navigating through the claim process. Healthcare systems differ all over the world and can be complex for students.

Did you introduce any new insurance products or services for international students within the last year that you would like to share with our readers?

Due to our experience in the market, we have a wide range of products for adequate coverage in Educational Travel. Our existing products meet many of the needs of our travelers and also withstand changing circumstances. For example, enrollment is even possible after departure and pandemics have always been part of the coverage. Therefore, our focus is mostly on quick and easy assistance in case of emergency and ever improving services. Processes are always under review and optimization. And since there is an increasing number of mental health concerns, we will offer additional services with easily accessible mental health consultation.

Since the pandemic trip cancelation insurance is a product with a higher demand than ever. We have a full pre-departure coverage available for our German partners, due to legal circumstances we developed a post-departure travel delay benefit for our international clients last year.

How are you leveraging technology to improve the insurance process for international students?

Technology offers great chances for optimization of processes within our business. It definitely helps to reduce response times. By implementing online claim submission, processes are automated making things easier and quicker for insureds. Of course, we always keep an eye on data protection, which is also essential in times of cyber-attacks.

What are the biggest challenges you have experienced in the past year in providing comprehensive and relevant coverage for international students?

One of our main challenges is to fulfill the requirements of a legal framework that is getting more and more restricted and focussed on local markets, while maintaining the same high level of service and further adapting our products. Nowadays, one must stay flexible and creative to comply with legal circumstances and still meet the needs of our clients. Changing circumstances also inspire us to develop new insurance products.

Recognising the increased mental health pressures faced by students abroad, are there any offerings or partnerships with mental health providers within your international student insurance plans?

Mental health issues are dramatically increasing and have become the number one claim reason. They have a significant influence on long-term travel programs in Educational Travel. While there is already coverage for in-patient and out-patient treatment as well as repatriation, the challenge is to provide support at an early stage and have preventive measures in place. The aim is to create an easily accessible, barrier-free offer of help avoiding many emergencies by showing ways forward.

Pre-existing conditions are also a relevant topic for our partners, as these are usually excluded from coverage. Most students have concerns if they have had issues in the past. Luckily, we have a coverage for pre-existing conditions, as only foreseeable consequences are excluded. Therefore, students, parents and organizations can be relieved as you never know how a person will react to a totally different surrounding and new challenges abroad.

What are your predictions for the future of international education insurance in the coming year?

We see several aspects that are relevant. Technology will continue to play a crucial role in improving the accessibility and efficiency of insurance services. With the aim of supporting the health of young people, psychologically and physically, a further digitalization of services will be needed. Virtual care and online consultations with doctors via telehealth and real-time updates on policy information will become even more important.

Continually rising living costs are also affecting educational stays abroad. Students have to bring up more money to be able to study abroad. For example, Canada has already increased the required amount of minimum funds for students to enter the country. Insurers need to be prepared for students with different travel budgets and consider that students may not be able to pay out of pocket.

We also see a change in the demographic landscape of our target group. More and more older people travel abroad for educational reasons and the LGBTQ+ community gains importance. Insurance providers have to adapt the entire customer journey to the needs of this target group, when it comes to requirements for enrollment and customer communication. We already increased the age range of our products last year to include persons with higher age up to 69 years and we are thankful to be able to contribute to the WYSE Travel Safety guidelines for LGBTQ+ Travellers.


Contact the CareMed team

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