Appendix B: Know Your Insurance Policy

This resource is an appendix to the Guidelines for Conducting Education Abroad during COVID-19, but may also be useful in other contexts.

When reviewing existing or prospective insurance policies for education abroad programming, ask these questions:

  • Who is covered?
  • What is covered?
  • What exclusions apply to the policy/ies?

For individual coverage:

  • Can faculty, staff, students all be on the same policy? (If possible, this is preferable.)
  • Is there any exclusion from coverage on the basis of age?
  • Do we have a dependent coverage policy for anyone who might accompany program participants?
  • What are the policy start and end dates?
  • Is there an exclusion for viral pandemic or epidemic?
  • Medical insurance covers individuals contracting a disease,
    • But what about individuals at-risk, but who haven’t contracted it yet?
    • Does medical insurance cover the costs of testing? For whom? Only individuals with symptoms? Only if exposed? Or for any reason? Is testing covered just once or multiple times?
  • Is there an exclusion for those who travel against a warning to a State Department Level 4 travel advisory or CDC Level 3 location?
    • What happens if the warning changes while insured are in-country?
    • Does insurance kick back in if the advisory goes back down to lower level at a later date?
  • What are the deductibles and co-pays? Can the organization or an individual have the cash available to pay that amount if needed?
  • Does the plan make direct payment to foreign providers? If not, how will you seek reimbursement later? Does the individual or organization have cash on hand to pay the costs at time of care?
  • Does the policy offer coverage at home for participants who return home prior to policy end date?
  • Does the policy offer coverage outside of one’s registered destination(s)?
  • Other exclusions and coverages to confirm:
    • Drug and alcohol exclusions
    • Mental health care coverage
    • Exclusions when participating in athletics or organized sports
    • Exclusions when participating in inherently dangerous activities, e.g., scuba, mountain climbing, horseback riding, driving a motor vehicle, 2- and 3-wheel vehicles, off-roading, etc.

For business coverage:

  • Be familiar with the organization-wide umbrella policy if one exists.
    • Hold regular meetings with the organization-level person (legal counsel, risk manager, insurance specialist) who manages that policy.
  • Is there a viral pandemic or epidemic exclusion?
  • Does it cover canceling or interrupting a program for any reason?
  • What’s the upper limit on coverage under the policy?
  • What are the deductibles? Does the organization have cash reserves to cover this if needed?
  • Does the policy include coverage for property damage and loss of business?
  • Does the policy include liability coverage? How much?
  • How does one make claims, what applicable laws that apply to suits, in which country will these be held, etc.?
  • Make sure you understand coverage for services and organizations you work with, e.g., do car rental policies cover damage to the car, damage to other people’s property, injuries caused to drivers/passengers?