As you prepare to study abroad, it's important to carefully read and consider all materials provided by the Office of International Programs, the United States Department of State, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, International SOS and your personal doctor about issues or recommendations that relate to safety, health, legal, environmental, political, cultural and religious conditions in host countries.
Important factors to consider
- Consider your health and other personal circumstances when applying for or accepting a place in a program.
- Medical care abroad is very different than it is in the U.S.
- You should be sure that you are very comfortable handling any personal health concerns while abroad in a very different environment.
- Disclose to OIP accurate and complete physical and mental health information and any other personal data that is necessary in planning for a safe and healthy study abroad experience.
- Assume responsibility for your own personal preparation for the program and participate fully in pre-departure and on-site orientations.
- Obtain and maintain appropriate insurance coverage and abide by any conditions imposed by the carriers.
Health and Accident Insurance
While studying abroad, it's important to minimize risk as much as possible. All study abroad participants are required to have both health and accident insurance for the duration of their study abroad program. These insurance policies must provide coverage in your destination location(s) and include, at minimum:
- emergency medical care and treatment
- physician charges
Additional minimum coverages include processes utilized in returning you to the United States, if medically necessary:
- medical evacuation
- medical reunion
Supplementing your current health insurance
Most U.S. health insurance plans have some limitations for treatment outside the U.S. and very few have medical evacuation repatriation or family reunion benefits. We strongly recommend you purchase a policy that is designed specifically to cover students while studying and traveling abroad. Many programs through a provider or host institution will include health insurance in the program fees and automatically enroll students in a comprehensive plan. Check with your program to determine if you are appropriately covered.
Note: Insurance coverage intended specifically to cover you while studying abroad should be used alongside your existing health insurance to ensure continuous coverage for any pre-existing conditions.
SFA Faculty-Led programs
Supplemented health insurance for studying abroad is included in the program fee. This is a policy within the Office of International Programs and ensures all SFA students participating on a faculty-led program have necessary health insurance while abroad.
As part of this required health insurance policy, the accident and illness coverage goes above and beyond the coverage offered by typical U.S. health plans. For example, it covers:
- repatriation of remains
- emergency medical evacuation
- emergency medical reunion
- and 24 -support assistance service.
As a study abroad participant, always consider your own health condition. Talk with your physician and ensure that you have adequate coverage to meet your personal needs on top of this insurance. Pre-existing conditions are excluded from this supplemented health coverage.
Read carefully any information about health and safety provided specifically by your program. Visit the CDC Travelers' Health website to receive information on any required or recommended vaccinations.
There are many different travel insurance options and choosing the right provider can get confusing. There are many resources available online to help you choose which insurance provider best suits your needs by featuring expert reviews, detailed comparisons and data-driven ratings. Reviews.com offers a comprehensive guide, saving travelers both time and effort in an otherwise time-intensive and blind decision process.
Cancelation For Any Reason insurance
Obtaining travel interruption or cancelation protection is entirely optional, but highly recommended. Purchasing CFAR insurance reduces the risk of travel interruption safeguarding against losses or penalties associated with withdrawal or program cancelation. Read the insurance policies thoroughly to make sure they meet your needs.
Questions to ask when considering CFAR insurance:
- What is the specified time frame for purchasing coverage (must be purchased within X days of initial 'trip' payment)?
- What is the specified time frame for cancelation (for example: 48 hours prior to scheduled departure)?
- What % of non-recoverable expenses are covered?
- 75% reimbursement of non-recoverable expenses seems to be the standard.
- Can the coverage be purchased as a stand-alone policy or is it only available as an add-on or upgrade as part of an overarching travel insurance plan?
- Does the policy provide benefits for interruption for any reason (after the 'trip' or program has already begun) or only cancelation for any reason (prior to departure)?
- Is there a cap on the dollar amount for covered expenses?
Additional resources regarding insurance
We are not experts in insurance but we hope the resources below will help you to make the best decision.
- Should You Buy Travel Insurance Before a Trip?
- Travel Insurance for College Students: Should You Buy It?
- Is Travel Insurance worth it?
- Best Travel Insurance Based on In-Depth Reviews
- Includes insurance vocabulary