International Travel Risks

 
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Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT)

Cornell University is now a member of the Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT) Education Abroad Program. ASIRT's mission is to save lives and minimize crash-related injuries by assisting travelers to manage road risks and inspiring the world to take actions to improve road safety. Look here for access to member-only benefits such as international Road Travel Reports, Safety Checklists and other resources.

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Insurance

As of March 18, 2011, FrontierMEDEX (formerly MEDEX Global Solutions) is Cornell’s vendor for international emergency services, a free insurance program available to members of the Cornell community traveling abroad on university business. 

Travelers should research their destination location to assess the types of risk they may encounter and then take the appropriate precautions to minimize those risks. Having adequate insurance is one measure that can be taken in preparation or in response to these risks.  In addition to emergency services provided by FrontierMEDEX, proof of health Insurance is required for students on Cornell Travel Abroad.  Students should have an insurance policy or combination of policies that will:

  1. Provide coverage for medically necessary care (NOT just emergency care) while abroad
  2. Cover pre-existing conditions
  3. Cover you in all locations where you travel or visit
  4. Have a maximum benefit of at least $250,000 per year
  5. Provide mental health coverage

Your insurance policy (or primary policy if you will be covered by more than one) should be provided by a company licensed to do business in the United States, with a US claim payment office and US phone number. If you have the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) through Cornell University, it will meet the above requirements.

TRAVEL INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS

FOR CORNELL AND CORNELL-FACILITATED TRAVEL ABROAD

Cornell students traveling abroad for Cornell and Cornell-Facilitated activities are required to confirm that they are appropriately insured. Proof of health insurance should be submitted via the Medical & Accident Insurance Form. As mentioned above, if you have Cornell’s Student Health Insurance Program (SHIP), this insurance should be adequate but you must still complete and submit the form. Additionally, you should print your ID card for Cornell’s vendor for medical evacuation, security evacuation, and repatriation (return of remains) insurance. This insurance is free for the Cornell community traveling on University business. Click on the following link for details and access to the emergency services ID card: http://international.cornell.edu/emergencies.

TRAVEL INSURANCE SUGGESTIONS

FOR NON-CORNELL TRAVEL ABROAD

There are no insurance coverage mandates for travelers who are not traveling on Cornell business. The following information is provided for educational purposes only. In addition to health insurance mentioned above, it is suggested that you have insurance that covers medical evacuation, security evacuation, and repatriation (return of remains).  Cornell's vendor for emergency services may provide this insurance at a discount to Cornellian's on non-Cornell or independent trips.Contact the Office of Risk Management and Insurance for instructions. If you prefer to comparison shop, you may wish to visit www.insuremytrip.com for a variety of insurance products and services. Some questions you might want to ask regarding new or existing insurance include:

  1. If I am hospitalized in my destination country, will I have to pay up front and be reimbursed by my insurance, or will that facility submit a claim to my insurance company?
  2. If I must pay in advance for medical services, what type of payment will that provider require? Will they take a credit card payment or will someone have to wire money to make payment?
  3. How does my travel insurance handle/define a “pre-existing” condition?

Having adequate and appropriate insurance can contribute greatly to your safety and peace of mind while traveling abroad.    

Revised: 1/21/13

International Travel Advisory and Response Team (ITART)

Cornell's International Travel Advisory and Response Team (ITART) has two main functions; first, to advise travelers and consider requests for exceptions to the International Travel Policy prior to international travel; second to respond, in conjunction with Cornell's vendor , to international emergency services.

ITART Pre-Approval for Travel to High Risk Countries

The chart below provides an at-a-glance view of which travelers and what type of travel requires ITART pre-approval for travel to High Risk countries. Click here for the list of ITART Review countries.

Traveler Cornell Travel Cornell-Facilitated Travel Non-Cornell Travel
Undergraduate Student Travel/Funding requires ITART approval. Travel/Funding requires ITART approval. Cornell does not regulate this travel but funding is not allowed.
Graduate Student Travel/Funding requires ITART approval. Travel/Funding requires ITART approval. Cornell does not regulate this travel but funding is not allowed.
Faculty/Staff Travel is strongly discouraged if other viable options are available. Travel is strongly discouraged if other viable options are available. Travel is strongly discouraged if other viable options are available.
Alumni or the Public   Travel requires ITART approval. Travel requires ITART approval. N/A

The ITART process is guided through www.travelregistry.cornell.edu.

Click here for a direct link to the ITART application.

 

If possible and necessary, the Director of Risk Management and Insurance, a member of the ITART, will take the lead role to support and assist faculty, staff, and students when they are faced with emergencies while traveling or in residence abroad. Emergencies may include outbreaks of violence, political unrest, or medical emergencies. The team may be called upon to convene by phone, e-mail, or in person. Other support services are available on campus to support travelers when they return or to support ITART as necessary. These services include: Counseling Services, Medical Services, Student health insurance services, and Crisis Management Services. The Director of Risk Management and Insurance, or his/her designated alternate, may proceed as follows when a situation arises abroad requiring his/her attention:

  • to assist in the evacuation and safe return of all international group members;
  • to identify other Cornell University students, faculty, and staff that may be in harm's way, and to facilitate their safe exit from the country or geographical area;
  • to hire contractors as needed or make additional arrangements that, in the team's judgment, are in the best interest of the group at risk and will facilitate their safe return to the United States.
  • to update appropriate university executives, families (in collaboration with the Office of University Counsel), and other interested university units, as appropriate, during and after the emergency.
  • to consult with or include other individuals, as appropriate, based upon the situation.
  • to arrange for psychological counseling as needed as a result of a related emergency situation.

The members of the International Travel Advisory and Response Team include:

  • Vice Provost for International Relations, Chair
  • Director of Risk Management and Insurance, point person for emergency situations abroad
  • University Counsel
  • Dean of Students
  • Director of Cornell Abroad
  • Travel Safety Coordinator

This group will solicit participation of other administrators as needed. 

Risk Management Abroad - General Topics

This page describes various risks that need to be addressed when traveling abroad.

ROAD SAFETY 

The most dangerous and most widely overlooked risk when traveling abroad is road safety.  This is true not only for those operating or riding as a passenger in a motor vehicle but also for pedestrians.  This includes the use of motorcycles and similar vehicles for which statistics for injuries and deaths are significant.  Helmets may not always be legally required but they are always advised.  Additional considerations are road security, rental vehicles, and knowledge of the varying laws and rules of the road, such as which side of the road one drives on.  One must also consider actual road conditions and the possibility that farm animals may also occupy the roadways in less developed countries.

Cornell University is a member of the Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT) Education Abroad Program.
ASIRT's mission is to save lives and minimize crash-related injuries by assisting travelers to manage road risks and inspiring the world to take actions to improve road safety. Look here for access to member-only benefits such as international Road Travel Reports, Safety Checklists and other resources.

Click here to access ASIRT...

We also encourage all international travelers to consult the U.S. Department of State Travel page on “Road Safety Overseas” at: http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/safety/safety_1179.html .  There is a Road Safety section in every “Country Specific Information” page. 

NOTE:  Undergraduate students on Cornell or Cornell-Facilitated travel are prohibited from operating motor vehicles abroad

 

CRIME

 Anyone can become a victim of crime and violence whether it is here at home or while traveling abroad.  However, it is imperative to know how to prevent or respond to crimes committed in a foreign country. 

Prevention:

  • This begins from the moment you begin packing in knowing what items to leave behind that might make you a target of crime.
  • Study up on the local laws and customs and be alert to recent developments in your destination country so you can avoid dangerous or politically-charged areas.
  • Have all of your documents in order, both on your person and at home.
  • Register your travel with the U.S. Embassy.
  • Make sure you have full insurance, not only for theft and loss, but also for health and emergency services.
  • Use common sense while traveling: Be aware of your surroundings, don’t travel alone at night, keep a low profile.
  • Have an emergency plan in place BEFORE you travel. Know locations and contact information for local police, hospitals, and other emergency services.
  • Exercise caution when using public transportation.
  • When in a motor vehicle, keep doors locked at all times and wear seatbelts. Be aware of your surroundings. Don’t leave valuables in a parked car.
  • Handle your money safely and don’t flash large amounts of money.
  • Consult the U.S. Department of State Travel Alert site for potential risks at: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/pa/pa_1766.html.

Response:

  • This also begins BEFORE you travel.  If you have done sufficient planning, an appropriate response will be clear if you are a victim of crime or injury.
  • Register your travel with your department/college and with the U.S. Embassy.
  • This will include a number for the Cornell Police who are available 24/7 to respond.
  • If you are traveling on Cornell or Cornell-Facilitated travel, you should be carrying a card with information on how to contact Cornell’s vendor for emergency services. Use it.

ILLNESS/DISEASE, ACCIDENTS/INJURY

These conditions cannot be anticipated, but there are measures that can be taken to prevent such occurrences. 

  • Illness/Disease: There are several resources available that provide information about common illnesses or diseases that plague particular regions.
  • The U.S. Department of State, Country Specific Information can be found online at: (http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_4965.html ).
  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has information about outbreaks of diseases that one can consult prior to travel (http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices.aspx ).
  • Cornell's Gannett Travel Clinic can provide information and services about immunizations as well as advice about prevention and treatment of travel-related illnesses (http://www.gannett.cornell.edu/services/medical/travel_clinic.cfm ).
  • Common sense precautions are key to preventing accidents and personal injury.  Follow all US rules and provide/use all appropriate safety equipment to reduce risk. For example: 
    • Have latex gloves when doing any field work that involves handling blood or other biological specimens.Have appropriate safety gear (hard hat, safety glasses, steel-toed boots, etc.) when doing any kind of construction activity.
    • Many people find themselves unprepared for the mental/emotional stress of traveling to a foreign country. Gannett’s Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) is an excellent resource for consultation prior to travel (255-5155), http://www.gannett.cornell.edu/services/counseling/caps/index.cfm#CP_JUMP_16498 .

TERRORISM

 Before you travel, consult the U.S. Department of State Travel Warning site at: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_1764.html .  

NOTE: Undergraduate students may not travel to a country listed under a State Department travel warning without first obtaining permission from the International Travel Advisory and Response Team (ITART) . Units are prohibited from providing funding for ANY travel to a travel warning country with the exception of Cornell or Cornell-Facilitated travel that has been approved by ITART.

 

NATURAL DISASTERS

 While it is impossible to predict when a natural disaster may occur, it is advisable to check the U.S. State Department’s country-specific information to determine what countries or regions may be prone to floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and the like.  This is available at:  http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_4965.html .  This information may also be listed on the U.S. Department of State Travel Alert site at: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/pa/pa_1766.html .

DISCRIMINATION

 Travelers should make themselves aware of the laws and customs of the countries and regions to which they travel.  Discrimination may be based on a variety of issues such as gender or sexual orientation that are viewed differently by different cultures.Trip planners should make this part of travel orientation programs.  Travelers should also conduct independent research on these issues.

Travel Warnings

This link takes you to an external site for the U.S. Department of State Travel Warning list.