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International students in Australia: What insurance do you actually need?

Insurance can be confusing when you first arrive in Australia but only health insurance is compulsory – others can be good to have depending on your situation.

What you need

If you've just arrived in Australia, you probably already know that you need to have Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC).

Student health insurance can cover you for doctor visits, hospitalisation, ambulance services, prescriptions and more. It's compulsory for most visa holders.

In lots of cases, this is probably all you'll need.

There are other types of insurance available though. You might need them depending on what you own, where you travel and if you plan to drive here.

Contents insurance

contents insurance
If you're renting accommodation, you might want to get contents insurance – sometimes called renter's insurance.

It covers your personal belongings in case they're stolen, there's a fire or flood, or something else unexpected happens (all the reasons are listed in the insurer's product disclosure statement).

Worth it if:

You have expensive belongings or you are renting a space that you've furnished yourself. For example, if you own a good laptop, camera or any other tech you need for studying, contents insurance can cover the cost of buying a replacement.

Not worth it if:

You don't have expensive items and you're living in accommodation that's already furnished.

How much does it cost?

Contents insurance policies start from around $20 a month.

Keep in mind you will also have to pay an excess. This is usually (at least) a couple of hundred dollars that you need to pay if you make a claim.

Extras cover

extras insurance
Extras insurance helps pay for lots of out of hospital services including dental, chiro and optical. You usually don't get these services included with your Overseas Student Health Cover.

Worth it if:

You want a dental checkup, need a filling, tooth extraction, new pair of glasses, physio, chiro – the list could go on. Extras can be really good value for money if you need out of hospital care.

Not worth it if:

You don't go to the dentist or need optical. If you don't use the services you get with extras, it's really not worth the money.

How much does it cost?

It's cheap. Policies start from $3 a week.

Travel insurance

travel insurance
Plan to travel within Australia while you're here or go overseas? You should consider getting travel insurance.

It can cover trip cancellations, lost luggage, medical emergencies if you're overseas and much more. Your OSHC won't cover you for medical care overseas.

Worth it if:

You book flights or accommodation as part of a trip within Australia, or you're travelling overseas.

Not worth it if:

You don't plan to travel while you're studying in Australia. You probably don't need it for short weekend trips in the same state either.

How much does it cost?

Prices vary depending on where you go, the insurers and the length of trip, which is why it's worth worth comparing travel insurers. For example, you can expect to pay between $70 and $160 for a 1-week trip to Bali.

Car insurance

car insurance
If you plan to own or drive a car in Australia, you'll need to have compulsory third party insurance (CTP insurance).

It's worth considering comprehensive car insurance though if you want to cover damage to your vehicle and other vehicles in case of accidents.

Worth it if:

You own a car – CTP is compulsory in all states. Comprehensive car insurance is worth it if you want to cover damage to your own car.

Not worth it if:

You don't own a car!

How much does it cost?

A comprehensive car insurance policy is likely to cost you between $900 to as much as $2,500 a year depending on the insurer. To save as much as possible, shop around and get free quotes from a handful of brands.

Income protection insurance

income protection
Income protection insurance covers you in case you're unable to work due to illness or injury. It usually covers up to 70% of your income.

Worth it if:

You work and are dependent on the money to stay afloat, especially if you have others depending on you.

Not worth it if:

You don't work or could get by on some savings. Income protection is often best suited to people as they get older who have family. It's probably not helpful if you're just a student with a part-time job.

How much does it cost?

Income protection costs between $50 and $170 depending on how much you earn.

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