Travel assistance gives peace of mind
The lure of travel can be irresistible. Whether you’re an employee vacationing in Cancun, a faculty member doing research in Southeast Asia or a student studying in Europe for a semester, going abroad enables you to visit new places and experience new cultures.
A host of resources simplifies planning an overseas trip, from buying plane tickets to making hotel reservations. Temple’s International Programs Office goes further by helping students choose the right program, housing and travel arrangements. With these resources, you’re all set, right?
Well, not entirely. You’re going to need help if you get into a jam. Sudden illness or injury may require medical attention. Political unrest could mean that you’ve got to leave a country quickly. What if you lose your wallet and passport to a pickpocket? While these situations may be unthinkable, they do happen. Experienced travelers will tell you that having access to support during emergencies can make a world of difference.
With more than 1,800 students and faculty members traveling abroad each year, Temple is keenly aware of the importance of travel assistance. That’s why the University began a partnership with International SOS in mid-2004.
According to Ben Evans, director of the Office of Risk Management and Insurance, “Since 9/11, we’ve been very sensitive to the risks of international travel. International SOS provides essential support in the event of a medical or security emergency, and it’s very convenient. You can access it online or by phone anywhere in the world.”
Originally available only to students, International SOS support recently was expanded to Temple staff and faculty. The level of assistance is based on whether the travel is personal or University business and/or study.
Based in Philadelphia, International SOS is the world’s leading provider of medical assistance, international healthcare and security services. “This is not insurance,” Evans said. “It’s travel assistance for safety and security. It doesn’t take the place of health insurance.”
Along with 100 colleges and universities including Temple, Rutgers and the University of Pennsylvania, 83 percent of the Fortune Global 100 companies are members.
All staff, faculty and students can use International SOS’s online country guides and security updates for personal, business and University-sponsored travel. After entering the TU membership number at the International SOS home page, you’ll be taken to the Temple Communications Portal.
The beauty of the portal is that it consolidates and enhances information from the U.S. State Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention into a single, easy-to-use resource. International SOS staff from around the world updates the information several times daily, based on local conditions.
Specific guides are available for 193 countries, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. You get up-to-date detailed information on medical topics, travel and safety. Learn about local customs, traffic patterns, hotels and transportation, and get dress guidelines before you travel, so you can plan accordingly.
Travel security information keeps you abreast of world events that may affect your plans.
For access to medical and security assistance for personal travel, individual memberships in International SOS are available. Temple staff, faculty and students get a 20 percent premium discount.
Traveling on University business or studying abroad
Staff and faculty members who travel on Temple business and students who study abroad also have access to the full portfolio of International SOS services. Temple pays the full cost of membership for this protection.
Assistance is accessible 24/7 every day of the year, online and by phone. When you call, you speak to a nurse, doctor or security analyst, depending on the situation. Services include access to a worldwide network of credentialed doctors, clinics and hospitals to help in emergency medical situations.
“You can have all the insurance and money in the world, but if you’re in a Third World country or even Western Europe, you need assistance to understand the system and obtain the best care,” said Laura Angelone, director of scholastic accounts for International SOS.
Whether you break a tooth or develop bronchitis, you can obtain medical and dental referrals when you need them. Recently, a Temple student was injured on a University-sponsored excursion. International SOS arranged for an air ambulance and helped make arrangements for a family member to stay with the student after he was released from the hospital.
What if your cash and travel papers are stolen? Or you get a traffic ticket? By calling the indicated phone number, you can get legal referrals, advice on how to replace your lost documents, emergency personal cash, and emergency translation and interpreter services.
International SOS also is on standby around the world to help if you are caught in civil unrest or political turmoil. Over the past few years, its security teams and chartered aircraft have evacuated people from hotspots in the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific.
Where to start?
First, obtain an International SOS membership card from the Office of Risk Management and Insurance (see box for information). On it, you’ll find the membership number, Web address and phone numbers for contacting the company.
Next, go to the International SOS Web site’s Communications Portal to review all of the services available, plus specific country guides, health alerts and travel security information.
Before you leave on a Temple business trip or study abroad, complete the Personal Travel Record and the Emergency Record. The information is completely confidential and used by International SOS only to provide assistance in emergencies, with your permission. Purchase an individual membership if you would like protection on a personal trip.
Carry the International SOS membership card with you at all times. It includes the telephone numbers of the three major worldwide International SOS Alarm Centers.
With protection of International SOS in your back pocket, you can enjoy peace of mind when you embark on your overseas experience.
Now it’s time to enjoy your adventure. Bon voyage!
Frequently asked questions
Where can I get a membership card?
Contact the Office of Risk Management and Insurance by phone or e-mail.
Does International SOS provide insurance coverage for overseas travel?
International SOS provides medical, personal and travel security assistance to travelers; it is not an insurance company.
How does International SOS work?
In the event of an emergency, call one of the emergency phone numbers listed on your membership card. International SOS will contact a designated Temple administrator to get authorization to provide support. If you’re in a medical emergency, assistance may include initially paying the cost of medical treatment, so that there are no obstacles to getting needed care. Ultimately, you will be responsible for the medical bills, which can be submitted to your medical insurance plan for reimbursement.
I’m going to be traveling overseas on a personal vacation. Can I get access to full International SOS services?
Temple employees and students can buy a Global Traveler Membership for personal travel at a 20 percent discount. The cost is based on the length of your trip and the level of coverage. Coverage includes 24-hour medical and travel assistance, benefits for evacuation and repatriation, and access to the International SOS network of medical providers and professionals. Details are on the company’s Web site.