Written by Isaac McQuistion
Insurance is one of those topics few people want to think about, as the language around it is often inscrutable, and at its root it entails having to wrestle with some unpleasant scenarios. So, what do you need to know about insurance and studying abroad?
Overseas Insurance and COVID-19
The University of Texas requires all students to purchase the overseas insurance plan. The plan covers 100% of eligible medical expenses, up to $200,000. Put simply, that means if you’re on a UT trip, medical expenses for your treatment, including those related to COVID-19, are covered.
There are many other useful coverages bound-up in the overseas insurance plan, including, but not limited to:
- Mental health support; either in-person with an English-speaking counselor, or over the phone
- Cash replacement; if you have cash that is lost or stolen
- Prescription replacement; if you have prescriptions that are lost or stolen
- Medical evacuation
- Passport replacement assistance
- A ticket for a family member to travel to be by your side if you are hospitalized for an extended period of time
The actual coverages are only part of the overseas insurance plan. The other major benefit is membership with International SOS (ISOS). International SOS is one of the largest emergency assistance providers in the world, with clients and offices spread across the globe. Through UT’s overseas insurance plan, you have access to them any time before your trip as you’re getting ready to go abroad, or while you’re on your trip. You can use ISOS to:
- Obtain the latest information on COVID-19 and entry requirements for your destination
- Request assistance if you’re sick or hurt while abroad. ISOS can direct you to the closest clinic with the highest standard of care, and work with you and the hospital/clinic staff to make sure you get the care you need.
- Determine if it is legal to bring your prescription(s) into the country
- Find out how to get tested for COVID-19 in your country
Limits and Restrictions
Unfortunately, UT’s overseas insurance doesn’t cover everything, and it is crucial that you know what those gaps in coverage are. You can then decide for yourself if you need to purchase any additional coverage.
UT’s overseas insurance plan does not cover:
- Quarantine expenses
- Evacuation costs if you are forced to come home because of COVID-19 (note that if you need to be medically evacuated, that is still covered). That includes things like the cost of a plane ticket or rent if you have to leave before your lease is up.
- Loss or theft of physical property (i.e., laptop, phone, camera or luggage)
- Routine care, such as a physical or other preventative care
- Injuries sustained during a high-risk activity (i.e. skydiving, skiing, or bungee jumping)
What do you do if you’re nervous about the possibility of your program being cancelled because of COVID-19?
- For the risk of programs being cancelled because of COVID-19, we are advising students to look into plans that include “cancel for any reason” or “interrupt for any reason” coverage. It’s really important to look for those words, because many plans out there include a “pandemic exclusion,” which means that if your trip is cancelled because of a pandemic, then the insurance company does not have to honor claims for items like cancelled flights or reservations.
What do you do if you’re worried that your brand-new laptop might be stolen?
- One thing you can do for physical property is check out any existing renter’s insurance or homeowner’s insurance you might have, since those will often apply to items stolen, even if it happens abroad. Be mindful of the deductible that’s associated with those plans. Otherwise, travel insurance that covers physical property is relatively inexpensive.
Are there additional resources I can review to get more information?
- We’ve pulled together a variety of resources you can use to research and compare plans. You can look for plans that include cancel/interrupt for any reason coverage, as well as plans that include coverage for lost or stolen physical property. Those are available at the bottom of our overseas insurance webpage.
We’ve created a handout that gives an overview of what’s covered by insurance and walks you through how to submit a claim. You are encouraged to download one and keep it with your other education abroad-related documents. You can also look through the full overseas insurance brochure. If you have any questions about overseas insurance, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.