Faculty who are planning to travel outside the U.S. for conferences, field trips, research or sabbaticals must now obtain foreign travel insurance. Though this requirement came into effect last March, risk management will implement the policy this year.
“There’s normally a time lag between a new requirement, getting the message out and compliance. From this office’s perspective, we had some early compliance just after the March 7 (2011) issuance, and have had a steady increase in awareness and compliance since that date,” said Jody Van Leuven, CSUN’s risk manager.
A memo issued by the CSU Chancellor’s Office last year required all CSU employees traveling internationally on university business to obtain the insurance via the California State University Risk Management Authority, Van Leuven said.
“The Chancellor’s Office recognized that our faculty traveled very often to many foreign places,” Van Leuven said. “As risk management, we wanted to give them coverage so they wouldn’t have to worry about being stuck in a hotel that doesn’t have air conditioning, or not have an English-speaking doctor to attend to their medical needs.”
These costs would only be covered to a certain amount under most insurances, but with foreign travel insurance, all of these costs would be taken care of, according to Van Leuven.
“It’s simply about getting the message out and developing a streamlined, step-wise, process that departments can use efficiently,” she said. “This took a little time to implement, which may have contributed to any lag time between the foreign travel insurance requirement to full campuswide implementation.”
The foreign travel insurance will be comprehensive for faculty and students, and will cover loss of IDs, passports, travel and government papers, injuries, emergency evacuations, hotels, rental cars and medical needs, according to Van Leuven. Risk management will cover insurance cost free for faculty ($60.00), if their visit is under 15 days.
“Since Jan. 1, we have bound travel insurance for about 63 employees traveling to international destinations,” Van Leuven said.
It will cost risk management around $3,780 to cover faculty travels omitting the additional trips they will possibly take this year.
Erik Goldner, a CSUN history professor, travels frequently outside of the U.S. and feels having foreign travel insurance is good for all teachers to have.
“Having foreign travel insurance is sensible,” Goldner said.“ I went to France last summer to take a group of students on a field study trip, and my department was able to fund my insurance. It is comforting to know that I am covered so if any problems arise, I will be taken care of.”
Van Leuven said the costs to cover the foreign travel insurance for faculty, comes out of risk management’s budget that covers all the university’s insurance needs – such as property insurance, liability insurance, UDI and worker’s compensation.
“It’s part of the university’s operational budget and does not come from student fees, the cost is relatively low and our operational budget allows for unexpected expenses,” Van Lueven said. “ All state institutions have an annual budget and our budget comes from the state. The state (governor) gives money to the CSU Chancellor’s Office, and then it is distributed to the CSU school systems and their respective departments.”
By the end of this semester, if the 63 faculty count stays the same, risk management will spend around an additional $ 7,560 on travel insurance.
Van Leuven added that foreign travel insurance will be optional to CSUN students studying abroad or attending field trips. If students decide to purchase, it will cost them $50, if their stay is less than 15 days.
April Nguyen, 24, a fashion major, said it is great that the cost of foreign travel insurance is affordable for students.
“It is good that students can have an option to buy this insurance for a low cost amount,” Nguyen said. “I won’t have to worry about any debts that could easily occur while staying in a foreign country.”
Erick Ramirez, 20, an English major, said in the event that something goes wrong, for peace of student’s and faculty’s minds, insurance should be a top priority to get while staying in a foreign country.
“The insurance cost is a good deal for students and faculty,” Ramirez said. “If I ever decided to travel for a field trip or study abroad I would definitely invest in it.”
CSUN student Ben Morgan, 20, also agrees that students need to have insurance coverage in case of emergencies.
“If there are no drawbacks, it would be wise for CSUN students to purchase insurance,” Morgan said. “Life is so unexpected, and it’s good for students to cover themselves in case of an emergency.”