Tips To Help You Waive Out Of Your School Health Insurance Plan (SHIP)


Ed Zaleck | Dec 13, 2022 Insurance

If you’re reading this article, you’re most likely familiar with the fact that your school offers health insurance. While these plans are often very comprehensive, they can be expensive for international students ($1500-$2500 on average).

During your studies, saving every dollar is important and you may want to try to find a more affordable alternative option. Luckily, many schools offer a “waiver” option, where you’ll be able to show proof of comparable coverage and waive the fees charged by the school for the insurance.

As the leader in international student insurance, we prepared a few tips you can note to make the best decision and avoid issues when waiving out of your school’s health insurance plan (also known as SHIP).

#1- Use your school’s student health center/international student office

Though you’ll usually be recommended to enroll in the school plan, schools are dedicated to providing the most resources possible to assist you. If you reach out to your student health services or an international student advisor, they should be able to provide insurance options you can look into that are accepted for the waiver. They may even have brochures/pamphlets in their office which you can reference.

In addition, your school website should have a dedicated insurance page, which provides information on the school plan offering and what needs to be done to waive it (if allowed). Here you can see where you need to submit your waiver, what information you need, what the requirements are and/or any deadline you must meet.

#2 - Become familiar with insurance terminology to make best decision

Purchasing an insurance is an important decision with a large financial commitment. Though you may want to get the process of purchasing done quickly, we always suggest familiarizing yourself with insurance terminology and use this information to make the most informed decision about your purchase.

This can also prove useful when checking to see if alternative options meet the school waiver requirements. The main items to note when looking at an alternative plan:

  • Deductible/copay/coinsurance – These are the most important points in the brochure to review to explain how much you/the insurance will be expected to pay for medical bills. There may be minimums/maximums for these items that your insurance will need to meet for waiver approval.
  • Exclusions- All insurance plans will have a list of exclusions which state what medical services are NOT covered by the plan. If your waiver requirements ask to have coverage for something, you need to check and make sure it isn’t listed as an exclusion.
  • ACA Compliant/Comparable- For many schools, you will be required to have a plan that is in accordance with the Affordable Care Act (also known as ACA Comparable/Compliant). If you need a plan like this, you’ll need to review the details to verify if it meets this requirement or contact the insurance company directly to verify.

To learn more insurance terminology, you can check out our article on the subject: Insurance Terminology That All International Students Should Know.

#3 – Purchase insurance well ahead of the deadline

From our experience as former international students, we know how stressful the beginning of the semester can be. With this in mind, the last thing you should be focusing on during this period is purchasing insurance and getting the waiver approved.

Here’s a list of the main reasons to submit your waiver early:

  • Waiver portals open before semester- To allow students time to get their waivers in, you’ll see requests are often accepted weeks or months prior to the semester. Most insurances will allow you to choose to start your plan months into the future, so there is no reason to hold off on this process (even if you’re not in the US yet).
  • Holds on your student account- At schools where you do not automatically get enrolled in the SHIP, they may place a “hold” on your student account if you do not opt in to the school plan or submit proof of coverage. This hold can keep you from registering for or adding/dropping classes.
  • Backdates- You’ll see you may have a deadline to submit your waiver but will be asked to show coverage for dates prior to it. This may require you to purchase “backdated” coverage – so your insurance will need to allow you to start the plan from a date prior to when you purchase. Some companies offer this option, but many don’t, so purchase early to keep your options open.

#4 - Utilize your insurance documents to submit your waiver quickly

Though some schools request that the insurance company sign off on your waiver request, almost all will require you to complete the process of waiving out on your own. Though you typically just have to answer some general questions and submit the insurance documents for proof, it can still be a confusing process if you’re unfamiliar.

The best way to ensure that you can submit your waiver as quickly as possible is to download your insurance documents as soon as you receive them. Things such as your plan brochure, insurance ID card, and confirmation letter will contain most of the information you need to fill out your waiver quickly.

#5 – Purchase with ISO

ISO provides plans starting at $31/month in almost all universities/colleges across the United States. If you’d like to review to see if we offer insurance options at your school, you can go to the front page of and input your information in the “Find My insurance” section. Unsure? Reach out to our customer care team.

We allow you to enroll in 5-10 minutes online and get your insurance documentation immediately to help you submit your waiver. Plus, our plans are often going to save you thousands of dollars over the school year, while also providing comprehensive coverage your school requires. Enroll online today!

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About ISO Student Health Insurance

Founded in 1958, ISO prides itself on being the leader in providing international students with affordable insurance plans. Administered by former and current international students, we are able to assist our member with multilingual customer service in Chinese, Hindi, Spanish, and more. ISO serves over 3,200 schools/colleges and more than 150,000 insured students every year.

For more information, please visit and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, WeChat, WhatsApp, and LinkedIn.

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