Government Information about student insurance

In New Zealand, international students are ineligible for public funded health and disability services. However, everyone in New Zealand is covered by Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), which will pay for physical and mental injuries caused by accidents, conditions related to work, medical treatment and sexual assault or abuse.

Section 7.4 of the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students http://www.nzqa.govt.nz/assets/Providers-and-partners/Code-of-Practice-NZQA.pdf stipulates that “when enrolling international students, signatories must ensure that international students have appropriate and current medical and travel insurance for the duration of their planned period of study”.

The New Zealand government has changed the immigration policy in relation to health requirements and removed the requirement that international students be screened for acceptable health when applying for a student visa. Instead, it requires international students to hold acceptable insurance from the time of their enrolment until their visa expiry (or departure from New Zealand). Immigration New Zealand has defined “acceptable insurance” as insurance that is compliant with the Code and acceptable to the student’s education provider.

The following guidelines on what appropriate insurance means under the Code, have been determined by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA).

Period to be covered by the insurance

It is recommended the insurance should cover the whole period of an international student’s study in New Zealand until the expiry of their visa obtained for the study (unless they depart New Zealand earlier).

It is considered necessary for student insurance to cover their trips into and out of New Zealand at the beginning and/or the end of their study, and/or during any holiday breaks of the study. This is because ACC does not cover injuries and accidents that happen outside of New Zealand and the risk associated with these trips are therefore higher than when in New Zealand.

Recommended minimal cover of the insurance

The insurance policy should cover a number of key aspects and meet certain standards for the purpose of managing the key risks. This is not meant to manage all risks because students as consumers should have options to determine different levels of cover based on their different personal needs and potential risks.

It is recommended that international students should hold insurance covering all the following aspects:

Health cover while in New Zealand

  • medical expenses incurred for the treatment of illness and/or injury (in excess of ACC cover) that requires surgery and/or hospitalisation – unlimited sum insured
  • medical evacuation related to serious illness and injuries – unlimited sum insured
  • emergency dental treatment
  • costs for family members’ travel in the event that the student suffers a serious illness or injury.

Repatriation, search and rescue

  • repatriation and expatriation in the event a student has to return home following an injury or illness which interrupts their study plans
  • return of mortal remains/funeral expenses - including travel costs for family members, repatriation of remains, and funeral costs
  • search and rescue operation to locate the insured.

Travel into and out of New Zealand

  • missed flights or delays for travel into and out of New Zealand
  • medical expenses incurred for the treatment of an illness and injury incurred during the travel.

Personal liability

  • negligence causing bodily injury (including death) of another person or loss of or damage to property false arrest and wrongful detention.

What indicates an acceptable insurance company?

    An acceptable insurance company is one that is:
  • a reputable and established insurer with a credit rating no lower than ‘A’ from Standard and Poors or B+ from A M Best
  • able to provide services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Is it appropriate for a signatory to insist that a student must purchase a particular insurance policy arranged by the signatory?

  • According to the Fair Trading Act, any claims made that goods or services are needed must be based on fact. A business should not claim that goods or services are needed due to legal, mechanical, technical, medical or other requirements if this is in fact not true.
  • Misleading or deceiving customers about any such laws or requirements or the reasons for the ‘need’ would breach the Fair Trading Act. If education providers make representations to students that they must purchase a particular insurance policy from a particular insurance company, that conduct would raise concerns under the Fair Trading Act.
  • Students should be given information about other insurance companies’ policies and have the right to make an informed choice about which policy to purchase. They are entitled to the likely benefits of competition – choice, service, quality and price of insurance cover.
  • International students should be able to make their own choices about insurance company and insurance policy, as long as their choices are in compliance with the Code.