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Sports Insurance for International Students

April 17th, 2015 by Victoria Troupe

Students participating in sports are constantly pushing their bodies to the limit and are taking on a greater risk of injury than students who are not. Sports insurance for international students becomes even more critical than ever in these cases, and finding the right insurance plan for your situation is particularly important. Not every insurance policy will cover sports, and in many cases they will include or exclude coverage based on sports categories such as organized sports, extreme/adventure sports, contact sports, or recreational sports.

In this post, we will explore those main sport categories, and how international student insurance plans deal with coverage.

Organized Sports

Organized sports, as defined in insurance terms, usually include intercollegiate, interscholastic, intramural or club sport participation. If your sport requires organized practices or events, if you have a coach, or if you signed up for the sports through your school, it is most likely an organized sport. This definition does not include semi-professional and professional sports, which are usually in their own category, and in general are not covered by most international student or travel medical plans.

Coverage for organized sports is not inherent in most international student plans, and is commonly excluded from coverage. But not to worry! There are a few international student plans that do include coverage for organized sports, usually with a maximum limit per injury. The Student Secure Budget and Select levels both include coverage for up to $3,000 per injury (Budget) or $5,000 per injury (Select) for organized sports and the Student Health Advantage Standard and Platinum plans includes organized sports coverage up to $5,000 per injury.

Extreme/Adventure Sports

Extreme sports, also known as adventure sports, are activities perceived as having a high level of inherent danger. These activities often involve speed, height, a high level of physical exertion, and, in most cases, highly specialized gear. These kinds of activities are often undertaken for thrill seeking, and thus can expose the participant to abnormal risk that exceeds even that of organized sports.

Although most travel medical plans exclude coverage for organized sports, some policies will include limited coverage for extreme/adventure sports, or there may be an additional  rider that can be added to the plan for an additional cost. These plans will often list the exact sports that are covered and/or those that are excluded from coverage.

For example, the Atlas Travel plan includes coverage for all extreme sports that are not excluded specifically in the policy. Excluded sports include aviation, base jumping, parachuting, parasailing, hang-gliding, sky surfing, paragliding, kite-surfing, off-road motorized vehicles, heli-skiing, white water rafting, racing, spelunking, cave diving, diving unless certified, avalanche training, rugby, hunting, running with the bulls, bobsleigh, skeleton, luge, boxing or martial arts, piloting a hot air ballooning, jousting, pentathlon, powerlifting, quad biking, speed trials, speedway, or wrestling. Any extreme sports not listed would therefore be covered the same as any other illness.

The Patriot Travel plan is an example of a plan that offers an Adventure Sports rider. Here’s a summary of the terms of the rider from IMG, the insurance administrator of the Patriot Travel plan.

“The following activities are covered to the lifetime maximum amounts listed below as long as they are engaged solely for leisure, recreation, or entertainment purposes: abseiling, BMX, bobsledding, bungee jumping, canyoning, caving, hang gliding, heli-skiing, high diving, hot air ballooning, inline skating, jet skiing, jungle zip lining, kayaking, mountain biking, parachuting, paragliding, parascending, piloting a non-commercial aircraft, rappelling, rock climbing or mountaineering (ropes and guides to 4500m from ground level), scuba diving (to 50m), sky diving, snorkeling, snowboarding, snowmobiling, snow skiing, spelunking, surfing, trekking, whitewater rafting (to Class V), and wildlife safaris, and windsurfing.  All such activities must be carried out in strict accordance with the rules, regulations and guidelines of the applicable Governing Body or Authority of each such activity.”

There are certain sports,however, that are never covered by the Patriot Travel plan, regardless of whether or not the Adventure Sports rider is purchased. These include contact sports of any kind, racing of any kind, any rodeo activity, BASE jumping, kiteboarding, mountaineering or climbing or trekking above elevation 4500 meters above ground level or without proper ropes or guides; luge, motocross, Moto-X, ski jumping, sub-aquatic activities below 50 meters, whitewater rafting exceeding Class V difficulty, and/or adventure sports activity not expressly covered.

Contact Sports

A contact sport is defined as a sport in which players come into physical contact with each other as part of normal play. Hockey, soccer, football, and martial arts are just a few examples of contact sports. Similar to extreme sports, contact sports increase your risk of injury and like the Patriot Travel example above, many plans specifically exclude contact sports, even if they cover other sports. However, if you’ll be participating in contact sports, make sure your insurance plan includes this. The Student Secure Budget and Select cover all organized sports, even if they are considered contact sports.

Recreational, Leisure, or Fitness Sports

Some sports don’t fit into any of these categories. If you like to jog to keep fit, play tennis for fun on the weekends, or play catch with your friends, these types of sports activities fall into another category called Recreational, Leisure, or Fitness sports. These are activities people engage in during their free time, and are  undertaken purely for recreation, leisure, or fitness purposes. They are therefore not considered organized, extreme, or contact, and are usually covered under the general medical benefits of an international student insurance plan or even a travel medical plan.

Not All Insurance Is Equal

Carefully consider your sports participation when shopping for an insurance plan. Using the guidance above, determine which categories of sport you’ll be participating in and find an insurance policy that will protect you in case of any resulting injuries. Every insurance plan will specifically define which types of sports are included or excluded from that particular plan. Check the master policy to be sure that the sports you partake in are covered.

For help, feel free to email, chat or call our licensed insurance agents at any time.

Travel Medical Plan Updates for 2015

April 2nd, 2015 by Ross Mason

We are proud to announce some excellent updates to our international travel medical insurance plan. Effective April 1st 2015, anyone purchasing a new plan will benefit from these excellent new additions and enhancements:

  • Emergency Medical Evacuation benefit increased from $500,000 to $1,000,000.
  • Acute onset of pre-existing conditions benefit increased to match medical coverage maximum for $200,000, $500,000 and $1,000,000 maximums.
  • New Trip Delay benefit added ($100 per day for up to 2 days when 12-hour delay results in unplanned overnight stay).
  • New Pet Return benefit added (up to $1,000 to return pet home if member hospitalized).
  • Lost Checked Luggage benefit increased from $250 to $500.
  • New Bedside Visit benefit added (up to $1,500 for economy ticket to enable family member to visit if member admitted to ICU).
  • Eligibility definition expanded for Trip Interruption benefit (includes death of grandchild).

The travel medical insurance is an ideal insurance solution for those looking for short to medium term coverage, outside of their home country. It is available for up to 364 days for those needing coverage within the USA and for up to 3 years for those needing coverage around the world, excluding the USA.

For more information about our travel medical plan, please see our website:

http://www.internationalstudentinsurance.com/travel-medical-insurance/

New Student Zone Features

March 10th, 2015 by Ross Mason

We are always continuing to strive to bring the very best international student insurance plans, with benefits and pricing to match the needs of international students from all around the world. While the plans and benefits are extremely important – we also want to make it easy for our clients to manage their plans once they have purchased.

The Student Zone has been an excellent resource for all our current clients, as it allows them to manage their plan online – and offers the ability to renew coverage online, download replacement documents, search for providers, initiate pre-certification, amongst of wealth of other things. To continue this improvement, we have two new Student Zone features that have just been added and made available:

  • Online Claims Tracking through MESA
  • Online Claim Form Submission

MESA – Online Claims Tracking

Traditionally when a claim is processed, you will receive an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) in the mail that outlines how your claim was processed. This process can typically take up to 7 days for the EOB to arrive, as you need to wait for the document to be printed and then physically mailed to you.

However, with the launch of MESA you can now receive and obtain all your EOB’s online through your own, secure account. The process to get setup is quick, and the short introduction below will help guide you through the steps:

Once you are ready, head over to our special MESA page which will give you further information and access to the system:

http://www.internationalstudentinsurance.com/mesa/

Online Claim Form

Another great addition that we have also recently added to the Student Zone is the ability to submit a claim form online. We recommend that for each new injury or illness, you always submit a claim form to the claims team to speed along the processing. It may not be needed in every case, but it helps to have the form on file if the claims examiner needs it for any reason.

In the past, you would have needed to print a claim form off, complete it, and then either scan and email, or mail the document. With the addition of the online claim form, you can simply log into your account and submit the form right online. It takes no more than 5 to 10 minutes – and your done!

To access this, please log into your Student Zone account and then click on “Claim Information” and then “Claim Forms” – from there you will see the following screen:

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 12.31.29 PM

You will be able to start the online claim form process, and that will be submitted directly to the claims team for processing!

Student Zone

All these features and more are available in your student zone, to access that please visit:

http://www.internationalstudentinsurance.com/student-zone/

If you have any questions, or need assistance setting up any of our accounts – please contact our customer support team who will be happy to help you.

What International Students Need to Know About Prescriptions

February 11th, 2015 by Bryanna Davis

medication 122524542Medical costs in the United States are very expensive and prescriptions are no exception. To keep your medical costs low and your body healthy, get information on what international students need to know about prescriptions.

Understand Your Health Insurance When in the US
There is a wide variety of health insurance plans for international students to choose from and each plan will fall into one of the following two categories. Know which category your plan fits into so when the need strikes you know how to obtain your prescription.

  1. Individual Insurance Plan
    If your school does not require you to purchase a specific plan you can find and purchase the health insurance plan of your choice. In most cases, individual insurance plans include prescription coverage even if they do not have separate prescription medication program. If you need a prescription while on an individual plan you will pay for your prescription up front and file a claim for reimbursement. If you’re not sure how to file a claim contact your agent or insurance company for assistance.
  2. School Group Insurance Plan
    Your school might have a group health insurance plan that they allow or require you to enroll in. If you need a prescription while on your school’s group insurance plan you will more than likely be able to obtain it in the same way that those on an individual plan can.

If you receive a prescription card after buying your health insurance coverage make sure you show the pharmacist your card when picking up your prescription. To confirm the prescription coverage on your school’s group plan please request these directly from your school.

If your school has a group plan they will either:

i. Allow you to voluntarily enroll.
ii. Require you to enroll.
iii. Allow you to waive the school plan when comparable coverage is available.

Whether you have a school group plan or an individual plan it’s important to find out how much prescription coverage your plan includes. Review your insurance plan documents to confirm your out of pocket expenses including copays, deductibles and coinsurance. Ensure that you also take note on the difference in cost when you visit a provider that is in-network, as opposed to a provider that is out of network. If you are currently taking medication you’ll also need to find out if it will be covered – don’t forget to research plan exclusions and waiting periods, as pre-existing medical conditions may not be covered.

Research Discount and Free Prescription Programs
Depending on the medication you need and which pharmacy you visit you might be able to get your prescription at a discount or even free of charge. Below is a list of pharmacies in various locations around the US that offer discount pharmacy programs.

Bring Your Medication
If you take medication regularly, we suggest that you bring a good supply with you. If you plan on buying it in the US you not only run the risk of having to pay for this medication at full cost, but you also run the risk of the United States not having the same medications that were available to you in your home country.

Remember, many international student health insurance plans exclude coverage for conditions you’ve had prior to the start date of your plan (known as a pre-existing condition), or you may need to wait a certain period of time before you get covered for your prescriptions.

If you have questions on prescription medication for international students you can contact us for further guidance.

Top 5 Claim Challenges…and How To Deal With Them!

January 15th, 2015 by Jennifer Frankel

Cartoon Businessman with Failure concept487390935No matter where your studies or travels take you, a good insurance plan can only be evaluated by the way they process and pay claims. For the overwhelming majority of people, the sophisticated claims payment and management systems set up by international insurers work very smoothly.

However, what if it isn’t as smooth as you had hoped? What if you went to the hospital, and now you are receiving threatening collection letters? Or, what if the claim process did go smoothly, but your claims were denied – and you wholeheartedly disagree? It’s important to realize that there are steps you can take to make sure that these issues get resolved, quickly and correctly.

Here are the top 5 claims complaints by international students, and how you can resolve them:

  • You’ve submitted your claim but you haven’t heard back

There are many reasons why you may not have heard back – the most common one is that the claim was never submitted!  The first step would be to contact your doctor or clinic and make sure they have filed the claim and that they have the correct insurance information on file. If you did not bring your ID card with you at the time of treatment, they might not know where to file the claim. In cases like these, we recommend that you give them your policy number, insurance address (which will appear on your ID card), and you can also fax the provider a copy of your ID card.  Sometimes, you may need the file the claim yourself.

Next, call the number on your ID card to get in touch with the insurance company and confirm receipt of the claim. Ask if they are missing anything, and make sure that they have your correct contact information. Many times insurance companies will need a Claimant Statement (also known as a Claims Form or Proof of Loss Form) before they process any claims, so be sure to send this in so that there is no delay.

Are you not a big fan of the phone, and prefer to do the whole thing online? Many insurance companies now have online claims management systems where you can track the status of your claim at any time throughout the day. These tracking tools can often tell you what the status is of your claim, what is missing, and oftentimes can let you know what was paid. These tools have been designed to make the process easier and more efficient, so we strongly recommend using these tools if it’s available through your carrier.

TIP: To speed up the process, we recommend submitting all claims electronically. This makes sure that they get the documents right away, that you have a copy of the claim, and that there is a time stamp on when the claim was submitted.

  • Your claim has been processing for more than 30 days

Typically claims take about 30 business days to be processed, but often much sooner than that. If you still haven’t heard back after 30 days, call your insurance company and verify the status of your claim. There can be many reasons why your claim is taking so long to process, for example they could be waiting for a completed Claim Form or medical records from your doctor/hospital. There are many reasons why a claim could be taking longer than normal, so be sure to check the online claims tracking system or give the insurance company a call to see what the hold up is.

  • I don’t understand any of the claims information

Once your claim has been processed, you will receive an Explanation of Benefits (also known as an EOB) in the mail detailing what was covered and what wasn’t covered. While this may be confusing at first, take a moment to look it over. You’ll see on this form the Patient Responsibility – usually in bold – and this is how much you will need to pay directly to your doctor or hospital. There may be many reasons why you need to pay your provider, two of the most common reasons is that there is an out of pocket on your plan (such as a deductible, copay or coinsurance) or the condition was excluded. Reasons why something wasn’t covered typically appears as a number, which will then be a clarification of why it was not covered.

  • You are getting payment overdue notices or collection letters

If you have left a claim unpaid, or have not followed up to make sure the claim has been closed and paid, then you might get an overdue payment notice. Don’t ignore it as it will not go away, but instead the best course of action is to be proactive!

First,  call your provider (i.e., doctor, hospital, clinic) and let them know that the insurance company is processing the claim. Make sure that they’ve submitted the documents to the insurance company, and confirm that they have the correct information on file for you (the spelling of your name, policy number, and date of birth). Next, confirm that they have the correct insurance company information, including the insurance company’s address and phone number.

If all of that checks out, then you will want to review your claim through the online claims tracking system or contact your insurance company to confirm if they have the claim on file, when the claim was received, and if there is any other information missing to finalize payment. Finally, see if you can get a timeline on when they expect to pay the provider. You will also find out if you have any outstanding payments due (such as your deductible, copay, coinsurance, or excluded benefits).

After, this may require you to call your provider back and let them know if any information is missing. You may want to also let them know the time frame in which the insurance company expects payment to go out. If you have any out of pocket due you will want to make the payment at this time.

  • Your claim has been denied, but you disagree!

If you are not happy with a claims decision, and feel it has been denied in error – the good news is that all insurance plans allow you to appeal your claims. For most carriers, this only requires an email to the claims team requesting a re-review, or in some cases your insurance company may require you to complete a special form. Along with your appeal, you should provide as much information to support your appeal as possible, this could include things like doctors records, notes, and really anything that shows you do not agree with the original denial. The appeal will typically take around 30 days to process, and then you will receive a letter from your insurance company explaining the result of the appeal.

TIP: Appeals are only allowed within a certain time frame from the initial denial, so don’t wait and do this right away.

We hope this has provided you with some insight into your claims worries, if you would like to know more about how to properly file a claim to minimize any issues, check out our article for a step-by-step guide on submitting an insurance claim.

Does My International Insurance Plan Cover Ebola?

December 22nd, 2014 by Victoria Troupe

Globe of Africa and International Currencies in BackgroundAA049180Traveling always comes with inherent dangers. We usually prepare for these dangers by receiving the proper immunizations and vaccinations, taking extra precautions to stay safe, and purchasing travel insurance for unforeseen injuries or illnesses. However, when a serious medical outbreak or epidemic occurs, like the recent Ebola outbreak, travelers like us need to be aware of our actual risk and how the outbreak will affect our insurance coverage. You may be wondering, “Will my travel insurance plan cover Ebola?”

Your medical coverage will vary by insurance company, plan, and plan level. Few plans will actually exclude Ebola specifically from coverage. More likely is the possibility of some of your insurance benefits becoming limited or unavailable because of travel advisories being issued for areas to which you are traveling. Even if some of your benefits are limited due to the Ebola travel advisory, you are still covered by your insurance plan for other unrelated injuries and illnesses.

Ebola-related advisories currently only exist for specific countries in Western Africa.There is a Level 3 Travel Warning issued for the countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea, because of “unprecedented outbreaks of Ebola in those countries.” The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) recommend to avoid all unnecessary travel to these countries. A Level 2 Travel Alert has been issued in Mali, recommending travelers to practice enhanced precautions due to the possibility of the virus spreading further into the country.

Which Benefits Matter?

Several of your travel insurance benefits could be affected by these types of travel advisories, including Ebola-related medical benefits, emergency medical evacuation, and trip cancellation. If you are traveling within the CDC and FCO recommendations, you would most likely have cover (if you contracted Ebola in the US or UK, for example). However, if you contract the disease in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, or Mali, your coverage may be void because of the travel advisories. Keep in mind, you would still be covered for other injuries or illnesses unrelated to the travel advisory. If you caught the flu in Liberia, for example, you would be covered as usual.

Most travel insurance plans allow a certain amount of time (about 5-10 days) to evacuate if you are in-country at the time a travel advisory is issued. If your plan becomes effective after the advisory is in place, however, coverage for the forewarned illness is likely invalid.

The same is true if you cancel your trip because of Ebola. If you purchase your ‘Cancel for Any Reason’ trip cancellation insurance before the advisory is issued, you can likely recover some portion of your non-refundable trip expenses to cancel. If you purchase your plan after the advisory is in effect, however, it would not be a viable claim.

How are Insurance Companies Handling Ebola?

Insurance companies are approaching Ebola in different ways. Some are trying to decide whether to include it as part of their coverage, while others are limiting coverage options to countries impacted by the disease.  In the meantime, many insurance companies are releasing statements to clarify their insurance coverage for this particular disease.  Here are some examples of common travel insurance plans and how they are handling Ebola in different situations as of December, 2014.

 

| HCC Medical Insurance Services (HCCMIS)

HCCMIS the plan administrator of our Atlas Travel plan, issued this statement to explain how their long-standing travel medical plan covers illnesses related to travel advisories, like the ongoing Ebola epidemic:

“The Atlas Travel policy offered by HCCMIS provides travel medical insurance and emergency travel assistance to members traveling outside of their home country and covers illnesses contracted while abroad, including but not limited to, the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) or Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever (EHF).

While Atlas Travel coverage includes these illnesses, it is highly recommended that you check for any travel or health advisories that might be active for the region or countries that you may be visiting and take necessary precautions. In countries for which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued a Warning Level 3 (avoid nonessential travel), the medical condition that prompted the CDC warning is excluded. All other eligible medical expenses are covered as usual. For members in-country at the time of the CDC warning, 10 days are allowed for departure before the condition becomes excluded.”

| Travelex

Travelex Insurance Services released the following statement regarding Ebola:

“…in order to be eligible for coverage due to EVD, the protection plan should have been purchased prior the event being foreseen (July 25th, 2014). In the event EVD causes an unforeseeable loss to occur after the effective date of the plan you have purchase coverage may be considered in the following areas: Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption Coverage, Trip Delay Coverage, Emergency Medical Coverage, 24 Hour Travel Assistance Services, and Policy Transfer Options.”

| Seven Corners

Seven Corners, a reputable insurance provider and administrator of the Roundtrip series of emergency medical and trip cancellation insurance plans, also released a statement in light of the Ebola epidemic:

“Emergency medical care and medically necessary evacuation coverage is available if the illness occurs during your travels. As it relates to Trip Cancellation, unless a traveler meets the specified criteria listed under the Trip Cancellation section of their Description of Coverage or policy, Trip Cancellation benefits are not available.Customers who purchase RoundTrip Economy and RoundTrip Elite plans are strongly encouraged to review coverage, terms, conditions and exclusions.”

 

Check your policy!

Every policy is unique, with different terms and conditions. Be sure to check your policy or contact your insurance company to see if you’re covered for Ebola. For more information regarding travel advisories and their affects on your health insurance plan, check out this article.


For more information about travel medical insurance plans or trip cancellation insurance plans, visit our Insurance Explained page.

J1 Visa Insurance Requirements Change in 2015

December 5th, 2014 by Ross Mason
J1 Travel to the USA

J1 Travel to the USA

The J1 Visa is probably one of the most well known visa types for students to come to the USA to work and study. Introduced in 1961, it has grown in popularity to become one of the primary ways students can participant in Work and Travel programs, Au Pair programs, Internships and all the other J1 Visa Categories. For more detailed information about the J1 visa, please visit our very comprehensive section explaining all the main details about this visa type.

Of course there are many different requirements that need to be met in order to qualify for the J1 Visa, but one of the requirements of the visa is that the participant holds an insurance policy that will cover their medical expenses during their time in the USA. Set in 1993, the requirements were as follows:

  • Medical Benefits of at least $50,000 per accident or illness
  • Repatriation of Remains in the amount of $7,500
  • Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $10,000
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness
  • A policy underwritten by an insurance carrier with:
    • an AM Best rating of “A-” or above
    • an Insurance Solvency International, Ltd (ISI) rating of “A-I” or above
    • a Standard and Poor’s Claims Paying Ability rating of “A-” or above
    • or a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of “B+” or above

While to many around the world, the levels of coverage may seem adequate for a temporary visitor, the USA medical system is the most expensive in the world. $50,000 does not actually go very far if you are hospitalized, and so there have been calls to increase these limits to protect students.

On the 6th October 2014, the US Department of State issued a final rule that would make a number of changes to the way the J1 Visa program is run, and as part of that the levels of insurance coverage were changed to:

  • Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness
  • Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000
  • Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of exchange visitors to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000
  • Deductibles not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.
  • A policy underwritten by an insurance carrier with:
    • an A.M. Best rating of ‘‘A-’’ or above;
    • a McGraw Hill Financial/Standard & Poor’s Claims paying Ability rating of ‘‘A-’’ or above;
    • a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of ‘‘B+’’ or above;
    • a Fitch Ratings, Inc. rating of ‘‘A-’’ or above;
    • a Moody’s Investor Services rating of ‘‘A3’’ or above;

The main changes are to the levels of coverage, up to $100,000 for medical benefits, up to $25,000 for repatriation of remains, up to $50,000 for medical evacuation, and the inclusion of more rating agencies. The main changes have all be highlighted in red.

Update: These new levels of coverage will come into effect on May 15th 2015, so any participants who are in the USA on a J1 Visa on this date will need to meet these new requirements. For more detailed information about the J1 Visa, please be sure to visit our visa section covering all the main aspects of the visa:

http://www.internationalstudentinsurance.com/j1student/

2014 Travel Video Contest

September 29th, 2014 by Bryanna Davis

2014 Travel Video ContestCalling all filmmakers! If you’re looking for a challenge and an extra $4,000 for your study abroad journey then we have just the contest for you! InternationalStudent.com is hosting the 2014 Travel Video Contest and it’s now open for entries!

To enter this award you can follow these three steps:

  1. Check the rules and regulations to make sure you’re eligible.
  2. Submit an entry form before October 22nd.
  3. Submit your video before the deadline of October 22nd.

You can submit your video to InternationalStudent.com in a number of different of ways- so finding one method that works for you will be very easy! Make sure that you don’t enter the contest past the deadline as late entries will not be accepted.

Your video should tell the judges about your proposed study abroad trip. If you’re already studying abroad you can share any trip that you would like to take. Keep in mind that the InternationalStudent.com judges want to be entertained! Whether you make them laugh, cry, frightened or just plain confused- make sure you evoke emotion by using your creativity! Your video must be an original.

The grand prize winner of the contest will receive $4,000 along with their very own blog on InternationalStudent.com during their trip- so this also means fame!

Along with one grand prize winner there will also be a viewers’ choice award and some really great runner-up prizes. Finalists will be announced during the week of November 3rd, 2014. The final winners will be announced on the last day of International Education Week- November 21st.

If you would like to see the past winning videos you can check them out here, however, keep in mind that the judges want to see original ideas. You can also view tips and tricks to help your video out here.

If you would like more information on entering the InternationalStudent.com Travel Video Contest please visit here.

Get International Student Insurance for the 2014 – 2015 School Year

September 15th, 2014 by Victoria Troupe

Now_LaterThe 2014 – 2015 school year is off to a great start. If you’re an international student, you’ve checked just about everything off of your list and are getting ready to enjoy the new semester in a new place. One thing many students forget to consider is international student insurance coverage. If insurance was inadvertently left off of your checklist, don’t worry! You still have time to protect yourself against expensive medical costs.

Insurance coverage may or may not be mandatory for you while you are an international student. It is an important thing to have in any case, especially for students studying in the US, where medical expenses can be much higher than other places. To help you find the best insurance solution, every student should ask themselves the following questions (I’ve also provided some suggestions for quickly determining and obtaining an international student insurance plan that will work for you):

 

1. Does my visa require me to have insurance? In order to obtain a visa, you are sometimes required to maintain a certain level of insurance coverage in the country you will be staying. The F visa, a student visa in the US, does not require insurance coverage. However, many other types of visas do. Usually you need to show proof of this coverage during a visa interview or before you enter the country itself. However, if your old policy has expired, you’re looking for different coverage, or if you simply forgot, it’s not to late to get covered. Our Travel Medical plan meets most visa requirements around the world and is a great option for international students or even just travelers. The application is a simple, online process and you can begin your coverage the same day.

Here are some popular visas and their specific insurance requirements:

  • J Visa – J visa holders are required to have insurance coverage to properly maintain their US visa privileges. Those benefits are:
    • Medical Benefits of at least $50,000 per accident or illness
    • Repatriation of Remains in the amount of at least $7,500
    • Medical Evacuation benefit in the amount of at least $10,000
    • Deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness
    • A policy underwritten by an insurance carrier with:
      • an AM Best rating of “A-” or above
      • an Insurance Solvency International, Ltd (ISI) rating of “A-I” or above
      • a Standard and Poor’s Claims Paying Ability rating of “A-” or above
      • or a Weiss Research, Inc. rating of “B+” or above

    The benefits required are pretty basic, so you might want to consider increasing your coverage above these minimum amounts. Our Travel Medical plan is an excellent option for J visa holders. It meets all of the minimum requirements listed above, plus more. It is also a flexible plan that allows you to choose your own deductible and overall maximum limit, so that you can get the coverage you need.

  • Schengen Visa – If you’re studying in the Schengen region of Europe, you’ll need insurance coverage for your visa. The insurance requirements the the Schengen visa are:
    • Medical Benefits of at least EUR €30 000 (equivalent to $50,000 USD)
    • Repatriation coverage for medical reasons, urgent medical attention and/or emergency hospital treatment or death
    • Coverage Period valid within the Schengen region and for the full duration of stay

Our Travel Medical plan is also a good choice for students looking to meet these benefits. If you prefer a policy administered in Europe and offering payment terms in Euros, our Europe Travel plan is a great option for you.

 

2. Does my school have any specific insurance requirements? Not only do governments try to ensure that international students are properly covered, most colleges, universities, and high schools require their students to maintain proper insurance coverage while they are in school. Your international advisor will probably let you know what type of coverage they want you to have. They may even offer a school-sponsored insurance plan for you. Most students find these school-sponsored plans to be very expensive compared to purchasing their own individual plan. So, most schools allow you to waive the school’s policy if you buy your own plan that meets their requirements.

Our International Student Insurance plan meets the requirements for most schools and is built with international students in mind. It is annually renewable, so you can keep it while work towards your degree. You can also purchase it for less than one year if needed. You’ll have three levels of coverage to choose from – Smart, Budget, or Select – to ensure you have the coverage you need.If you’re not sure what your US school requires for insurance, try using our School Requirements search tool to see which of our affordable plans will work for you, or give us a call and we can discuss your options.

 

3. What type of coverage do I need? Many unique situations may be factors when determining what insurance plan is right for you. Do you need a plan for your family? Do you need coverage in your home country? Are you changing your visa status but still need international coverage? These and other factors can change the style of plan that will be best for you.

  • If you need coverage for your spouse or family, a student-focused plan is not always the way to go. If you need coverage for one year or less, our Travel Medical plan can meet your short-term needs at an affordable premium. If you need longer-term coverage, our Major Medical plan is a great option. It is annually renewable, provides four levels of coverage to choose from, and offers an affordable rate for dependents.
  • Our Major Medical plan also offers a unique option for Worldwide coverage, which includes your home country (only 30 days of home country coverage for US citizens), if needed. This is a convenient option for expats that travel home often and that need comprehensive coverage around the world. US citizens returning from a study abroad or trip should look into our Short-term Insurance plan for domestic coverage.
  • A visa change can also change your eligibility for certain insurance policies. For example, as soon as you are no longer a full-time international student, you no longer qualify for our International Student Insurance plan. However, there is an exception for those on OPT or CPT. Even though you are no longer a student, you are still technically maintaining a valid student visa, so you are still eligible for the International Student Insurance  plan. If you are changing your student visa to a working or permanent resident visa, a major medical style plan will offer the coverage you need.

 

If you still have questions about which plan is best for you, let us know. We can help you find the insurance plan you need. It’s not too late!

 

September 2014 Travel Warnings

September 9th, 2014 by Ross Mason
September 2014 Travel Warnings

September 2014 Travel Warnings

The September 2014 travel warnings are a listing of any warnings that have been posted by the US Department of State in the month of August, warning travelers who plan to visit those countries. Countries listed include:

Ukraine – August 29th, 2014

The Department of State warns of the risks of travel to eastern Ukraine due to ongoing violent clashes between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. In addition, Russian military forces continue to occupy the Crimean Peninsula and are present on the eastern border of Ukraine. Russia-backed separatists continue to control areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts.  These groups have established illegal checkpoints and have threatened, detained, or kidnapped individuals, including U.S. citizens, for hours or days.  The Ukrainian armed forces have launched an operation to reclaim these areas.  Violent clashes between the Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces have escalated over the past month and have resulted in hundreds of injuries and deaths.

Lebanon – August 15th, 2014

The Department of State urges travelers to avoid all travel to Lebanon because of ongoing safety and security concerns. The potential for death or injury in Lebanon exists in particular because of the frequency of terrorist bombing attacks throughout the country.  Many of the attacks have targeted specific individuals or venues, but nearly all cases have resulted in death and injuries to passersby in the vicinity.  lthough there is no evidence these attacks were directed specifically at U.S. citizens at this time, there is a real possibility of “wrong place, wrong time” harm to U.S. citizens.  The most recent wave of bombings began in June 2013, with four bombings in Beirut and Tripoli that collectively left hundreds dead and wounded.  In November 2013, two suicide bombers attacked the Iranian embassy, killing 23 and injuring more than 150.

Mexico – August 15th, 2014

The U.S. Department of State warns about the risk of traveling to certain places in Mexico due to threats to safety and security posed by organized criminal groups in the country. U.S. citizens have been the target of violent crimes, such as kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery by organized criminal groups in various Mexican states.

Sierra Leone – August 14th, 2014

The U.S. Department of State warns against non-essential travel to Sierra Leone. As of August 11, there have been 759 confirmed cases and 293 confirmed deaths due to an outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Sierra Leone. The outbreak of EVD has overwhelmed Sierra Leone’s health system due to the lack of sufficient staff and/or resources to address the continuing transmission of EVD.  Options for obtaining routine medical care are severely limited. In addition, most medical evacuation companies have suspended service to Ebola-affected countries and several airlines have suspended service to Freetown. This severely limits options for medical evacuation in the case of EVD and non-EVD medical cases.

Algeria – August 13th, 2014

The Department of State continues to warn of the risks of travel to Algeria. There is a high threat of terrorism and kidnappings in Algeria. This kidnapping threat was noted in the Department of State’s latest Worldwide Caution. Although the major cities are heavily policed, attacks could still potentially take place. The majority of terrorist attacks, including bombings, false roadblocks, kidnappings, and ambushes occur in areas of the country east and south of Algiers.

Iraq – August 10th, 2014

The Department of State warns against all but essential travel to Iraq. Travel within Iraq remains dangerous given the security situation. U.S. citizens in Iraq remain at high risk for kidnapping and terrorist violence. Methods of attack have included roadside improvised explosive devices (IEDs), including explosively formed penetrators (EFPs); magnetic IEDs placed on vehicles; human and vehicle-borne IEDs; mines placed on or concealed near roads; mortars and rockets; and shootings using various direct fire weapons. These and other attacks frequently occur in public gathering places, such as cafes, markets and other public venues. Numerous insurgent groups, including ISIL, previously known as al-Qa’ida in Iraq, remain active and terrorist activity and violence persist in many areas of the country. ISIL and its allies control Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, and have captured significant territory across central Iraq and continue to engage with Iraqi security forces in that region. In early August, the threat to the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR) increased considerably with the advance of ISIL towards Kurdish areas.

Saudi Arabia – August 8th, 2014

The Department of State urges travelers to carefully consider the risks of traveling to Saudi Arabia.  Recent developments include an attack by members of Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) on a border checkpoint along the Saudi-Yemeni border on July 4, 2014, and increased media reports of threats to Saudi infrastructure and U.S. installations in the Kingdom. The last major terrorist attack against foreign nationals occurred in 2007, but security threats are ongoing and terrorist groups, some affiliated with al-Qaida, may target both Saudi and Western interests. Possible targets include housing compounds, hotels, shopping areas and other facilities where Westerners congregate, as well as Saudi government facilities and economic/commercial targets within the Kingdom.

Pakistan – August 8th, 2014

The Department of State warns travelers to defer all non-essential travel to Pakistan. The presence of several foreign and indigenous terrorist groups poses a danger to U.S. citizens throughout Pakistan. Across the country, terrorist attacks frequently occur against civilian, government, and foreign targets. Attacks have included armed assaults on heavily guarded sites, including Pakistani military installations and airports. The Government of Pakistan maintains heightened security measures, particularly in the major cities. Threat reporting indicates terrorist groups continue to seek opportunities to attack locations where U.S. citizens and Westerners are known to congregate or visit. Terrorists and criminal groups regularly resort to kidnapping for ransom.

Nigeria – August 8th, 2014

The Department of State warns of the risks of travel to Nigeria and recommends that travelers avoid all travel to Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe states because of the May 14, 2013 state of emergency proclamation for those three states by the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The security situation in the country remains fluid and unpredictable. The Department continues to recommend against all but essential travel to the following states due to the risk of kidnappings, robberies, and other armed attacks: Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kano, and Yobe States.  The Department also advises travelers to exercise additional caution while traveling in Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, and Zamfara States.

Liberia – August 7th, 2014

The U.S. Department of State warns against non-essential travel to Liberia. In May 2014, a case of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) was confirmed in Liberia, marking the first case in a second wave of the EVD outbreak. Since then, EVD has continued to spread and intensify. The latest wave of the outbreak has overwhelmed Liberia’s health system and most health facilities lack sufficient staff or resources to address the continuing transmission of EVD.  Options for obtaining routine medical care are severely limited.

Cameroon – August 6th, 2014

The Department of State warns of the high risk of travel to Cameroon and cautions travelers to avoid all travel to the Far North region of the country. The terrorist group Boko Haram is active in the Far North, and has actively targeted foreign expatriates resident in Cameroon, tourists, and government leaders.  On July 25, 2014, more than 200 suspected Boko Haram operatives conducted a coordinated attack on two compounds in Kolofata.

While traveling, please keep these travel warnings in mind and remember to exercise extra care if you are visiting these countries, and check with your travel insurance provider to make sure you still have coverage in place – sometimes some benefits can be excluded for countries under a travel warning. Travelers are also advised to enroll through the U.S. Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to stay up to date on travel security information.

Our Insurance Plans

We offer a range of international health and travel insurance plans for both students and non-students including:

Student Secure

International Student Health Insurance for full time students around the world.

Atlas Travel

International Travel Medical Insurance for anyone outside of their home country.

Global Medical

International Major Medical Insurance for those needing long term coverage.

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