If you’re still on a wave of excitement from signing up for your Verto semester, we know insurance probably isn’t the most exciting thing on your mind. It’s an important part of any travel plan though, so we have you covered with a breakdown of everything you need to know!

What is travel insurance and why do students need it?

Travel insurance is typically comprised of two components protecting students while traveling abroad: 1) protection against trip interruption and cancelation and 2) medical insurance for new issues that arise while traveling.

The travel-related component of the insurance protects students in the case of an unexpected situation causing a delay or deviation from their travel plans. This could include situations like missing a flight and needing to rebook, having a flight canceled requiring a last-minute hotel room, or losing luggage and replacing what was lost.

The medical component helps cover the cost of any medical needs which come up while students are away from home. Most plans will cover fees for general, non-emergency medical needs (like clinic visits, testing, prescriptions, etc.) in addition to costs in an emergency situation (ambulance, air evacuation, etc.).

Verto staff on the program will always be there to help students navigate any type of incident– insurance is merely there to protect families from any financial burden which could arise.

What type of policy do students need? How much does it cost?

Travel insurance is sold in packages organized by the amount of coverage (how much money they will give you to pay for incidents) and the type of situations covered.

Most basic plans typically cover up to $50,000 and generally run between $2-3 per travel day. These basic coverage plans are most likely sufficient for a student who has no pre-existing conditions, is not especially prone to sickness or injury, and will not be engaging in any high-risk activities on their travel.

Students who have pre-existing or chronic medical issues or plan on doing more high-risk activities may want to consider plans with more coverage, likely within the $100,000-$250,000 range. These plans will usually cost around $4-5 per travel day.

The cost of a plan might be more or less expensive based on the travel destination. Insurance for travel in more remote destinations tends to cost more.

What else should families consider when choosing a plan?

When choosing a plan, it’s important to consider the student’s personal needs and travel plans. Many plans have exemptions (meaning they do not offer coverage) for some pre-existing health conditions and higher-risk activities. Some plans may have additional exemptions based on travel location, itinerary, and more so it’s important to pay close attention to what’s NOT included in addition to what is.

If a student plans on doing activities like white water rafting, ziplining, or skydiving, they will want to make sure to choose a plan that has these types of activities covered. If they have a pre-existing condition, they will need to check that any medical expenses related to this condition will be covered before purchasing a travel insurance plan.

Students should also consider any add-ons that might be important to them. For example, if a student wants to bring an expensive camera on the program, they should inquire about added coverage for high priced personal items. Sometimes insurance packages include only certain types of electronics, so look into exactly what services and protections are included within the policy.

How should families purchase travel insurance?

Families can purchase travel insurance online or at an in-person insurance office. Before purchasing, we recommend doing side-by-side comparisons on price, coverage, and exclusions among different packages and companies. Some reputable companies to look into include: World Nomads, STA travel, Nationwide, Travel guard, and Chubb Insurance.

What steps should students take in case of illness or incident? How do they use insurance?

If a student is sick or an incident occurs, their first step is to notify their program leader. Program leaders are on the ground with students 24/7 and will be there with them to navigate any situation which arises. Additionally, if students want to consult with a medical expert at any time, they can always use their subscription to International SOS (which gives them access to consultation and assistance from the world’s largest medical and travel security services firm). This subscription is included for no additional charge with Verto tuition.

Students should keep itemized receipts for any services they want the insurance to cover (ranging from an x-ray, to a hotel room, to clothes bought when luggage was missing) and any related documentation (like medical records, referrals, prescriptions, etc.). We highly recommend that students take photos of any receipts, documents, or other relevant paperwork in case they lose originals during their travels.

Students should contact insurance and begin filing a claim within 1-3 days of the incident or of seeking medical care.

What systems does Verto have in place in the case of illness or incidents?

Verto staff is incredibly well-equipped to help students navigate any medical needs or other incidents.

Our program leaders, who are on the ground and accessible to students 24/7, are all trained in specific protocols and escalation processes for any possible situation that could arise. We have developed these protocols by working closely with experts like International SOS and Dave Dennis, our Director of Operations & Safety, who has 25 years of experience in risk management for study abroad and international travel.

We are also well positioned with local partners in every Verto country who are ready to help connect our teams to any resources or assistance they may need.

Our in-country staff and partners are in constant communication with our management in the U.S., including our Mental Health Officer and Director of Operations & Safety. All of our protocols include processes for communicating with families at home and Verto is committed to transparent and effective communication.

If you are curious to learn more about how Verto handles crises, read about how we navigated the Covid19 pandemic here.

The Verto Bottom Line

Student safety always remains a core focus on all Verto Education semesters, and we take intentional and pre-determined steps to ensure students’ utmost safety and success on our programs.

The process of supporting each student’s safety begins even before students step foot on an airplane– all students fill out a health history form so that staff can gain context on students’ unique needs and determine how to best support them from the get-go. Throughout the semester, students work with their program leaders and professors to better understand how they can act as safe and responsible travelers and how to maintain self-care while abroad.

While the locations, program focuses, and individual experiences of each Verto semester are different, attention to detail, participant safety, and commitment to student wellness are not. You can read more about our commitment to safety here.

We hope this article clears up any uncertainties you might have about travel insurance. If you have any remaining questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to our staff at any time.

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