Frequently Asked Travel Policy Questions

This page is in the process of being updated. For specific travel policy questions you can contact the Global Health Institute at 262-3862.

 

1. What is the State of Wisconsin professional liability coverage policy for work performed outside the U.S. by paid UW employees?

As a general rule, State of Wisconsin employees (including Medical School faculty, staff, and student employees), acting within the scope of their employment or responsibilities, are covered for liability protection through the State of Wisconsin Self Funded Liability Plan. Any work that is not a typical day-to-day duty, such as volunteer medical care, teaching or research outside the U.S., must be:

Recognized by the employee’s department Chair or Dean as related to the teaching, service, or research mission of the University. Approved by the employee’s department Chair or Dean prior to departure. Chair or Dean’s approval must be documented in writing and indicate the date, location and nature of the services being provided. Electronic communication is considered acceptable documentation of approval.
For more information about the State of Wisconsin Self funded Liability Plan see http://www.bussvc.wisc.edu/risk_mgt/liability_program.html.

2. What professional liability coverage is provided for UW volunteer (zero dollar) and retired faculty or staff for work-related activities outside the U.S.?

UW volunteer (zero dollar) faculty and staff who participate in international teaching, research, or service activities must have primary liability coverage through their own employer’s policy, or carry personal professional liability protection. The State of Wisconsin Self Funded Liability Plan provides secondary coverage if the activity has been approved in writing by the department or school in which the faculty or staff person holds a volunteer appointment.

Retired UW faculty and staff members who maintain volunteer appointments have primary liability coverage through the state liability plan provided that 1) the international work done is under the direction and control of the UW; and 2) written approval has been obtained by the sponsoring department or school.

Note that automatic medical evacuation coverage is not provided by the University of Wisconsin for volunteer or retired faculty unless travel is authorized by and at the expense of the University and the volunteer is conducting business or research on behalf of the University.

The UW System CISI medical and evacuation insurance may be purchased for $30 per month by faculty or staff engaged in UW-sponsored educational activities abroad. It is required for students engaged in for-credit study abroad. Information is available from the UW Office of Risk Management, 21 N. Park St. Suite 6101, Madison, WI 53715, 262-0375 http://www.bussvc.wisc.edu/risk_mgt/study_abroad.html

3. If I am not a paid or volunteer UW employee can I participate in UW-sponsored international activities?

Community health professionals who are not UW paid or volunteer (zero dollar) employees, but who wish to participate in UW-sponsored international health activities outside the U.S., must obtain a volunteer faculty appointment and written authorization for participation by the appropriate school or department prior to undertaking such activities. Liability coverage is provided as stated for volunteer (zero dollar) employees.

As a UW Hospitals and Clinics employee, what authorization do I need for work-related travel outside the U.S.? Note that automatic medical evacuation coverage is not provided by the University of Wisconsin for volunteer faculty unless travel is authorized by and at the expense of the University and the volunteer is conducting business or research on behalf of the University.

However, the UW System CISI medical and evacuation insurance may be purchased by faculty or staff engaged in UW-sponsored educational activities abroad. Information is available from the UW Office of Risk Management, 21 N. Park St. Suite 6101, Madison, WI 53715, 262-0375 http://www.bussrv.wisc.edu/risk_mgt.

4. As a UW employee, what authorization do I need for work-related travel outside the U.S.?

Any work that is not a typical day-to-day duty, such as volunteer medical care, teaching or research outside the U.S., must be:

Recognized by the employee’s department Chair or Dean as related to the teaching, service, or research mission of the University. Approved by the employee’s department Chair or Dean prior to departure. Chair or Dean’s approval must be documented in writing and indicate the date, location and nature of the services being provided. Electronic communication is considered acceptable documentation of approval. Health science faculty and staff undertaking international work-related travel are required to follow established travel reporting and approval procedures in their respective schools or departments and utilize forms developed for such purposes.

Faculty and staff are asked to submit requests at least 10 working days prior to their anticipated absence and to make arrangements for coverage of their professional responsibilities.

Housestaff in the Department of Family Medicine (DFM) should contact their campus program directors for approval of international rotations. Written documentation should be on file which includes the rotation description, dates, and a request for salary and liability coverage. DFM residents are not required to send copies to the UWHC housestaff administrator for approval.

5. Is official UW travel to countries on the U. S. Department of State Travel Warning List prohibited?

No. However, faculty and staff are advised to carefully review the risks of travel to countries where Department of State or Centers for Disease Control travel warnings have been issued. The University of Wisconsin cannot guarantee the health and safety of its employees or students traveling abroad.

The Medical School Office of Academic Affairs will review plans on a case-by-case basis for medical students undertaking electives or UW faculty-led groups of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students to countries with U.S. Department of State or Centers for Disease Control travel warnings. Permission may be denied. Participants are required to sign the UW System Uniform Statement of Responsibility (liability waiver).

For complete information about U.S. Department of State travel advisories for U.S. citizens visit the webpage at http://www.travel.state.gov.

For travel health information from the CDC, go to http://www.cdc.gov/travel/.

6. What is the State of Wisconsin evacuation and repatriation insurance policy (MEDEX)?

MEDEX is a program provided at no cost to State of Wisconsin (including University) employees while traveling abroad in the course and scope of their employment. Coverage is not provided for family members or for University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinic employees who are not employed by the State of Wisconsin. This travel insurance program provides medical emergency assistance for worldwide travel while on business. MEDEX is designed to ensure the availability of competent health care as promptly as possible in situations where health care may not be available or is not up to US standards.

Coverage includes:

24 hour / 7 day a week, toll-free emergency assistance services medical evacuation and repatriation coverage
limited accidental death and dismemberment coverage MEDEX is NOT a health insurance program. Employees are covered by workers compensation if injured in the course of employment, regardless of work location. Personal health insurance may cover for other health related incidents, though employees should always check with their own health insurance provider for coverage while they are traveling. Faculty and staff who are traveling abroad for educational pursuits are eligible to purchase CISI health insurance for study abroad, through the Office of Risk Management.

The MEDEX program specifically covers University employees, and student research assistants (RA’s) whose trip expenses and/or foreign stay are authorized by and at the expense of the University. Family members are not covered.

Students are covered only when traveling as an employee and when expenses are authorized and paid for by the University. University employees are defined as anyone on University payroll and/or on official leave due to being granted a sabbatical. Unpaid volunteer (zero dollar faculty and staff) could be covered, but only if travel is authorized by and at the expense of the University and the volunteer is conducting business or research on behalf of the University.

Coverage begins upon arrival at the site of first touchdown, and is within 72 hours of beginning one’s employment at the jobsite. Coverage is also included for up to 72 hours of personal excursion before, during, and after a business trip. If additional time is needed for personal travel the employee may purchase additional coverage through a travel assistance provider.

Information on the MEDEX program is available from the UW Office of Risk Management, 21 N. Park St. Suite 6101, Madison, WI 53715, 262-0375 http://www.bussvc.wisc.edu/risk_mgt/medex_program.html.

The UW System CISI medical and evacuation insurance may be purchased for $30 per month by faculty or staff engaged in UW-sponsored educational activities abroad. See (http://www.bussvc.wisc.edu/risk_mgt/study_abroad.html) for details.

7. How do I obtain MEDEX coverage for work-related travel abroad?

The State of Wisconsin provides automatic evacuation and repatriation insurance coverage at no cost through MEDEX for University of Wisconsin employees traveling abroad for business purposes.

Employees can obtain information about insurance coverage by contacting the UW Office of Risk Management, 21 N. Park St. Suite 6101, Madison, WI 53715, 262-0375 prior to travel. The Office of Risk Management will issue a MEDEX policy card to you with service and contact information. Information about accessing MEDEX services while abroad is also outlined below.

Complete details of the MEDEX policy can be found at http://www.bussvc.wisc.edu/risk_mgt/medex_program.html.

8. What is the procedure for accessing MEDEX evacuation services abroad?

Call MEDEX if you are abroad and:

you are involved in an accident requiring medical treatment
you have difficulty locating medical care
you have a medical problem and require translation services
you have any other serious travel difficulties
In an emergency, go immediately to the nearest physician or hospital. Contact the nearest MEDEX Assistance Center. Be prepared to give your name, ID number and a brief description of your problem.

The State of Wisconsin ID # is: CHB

You may contact MEDEX, as follows:

Inside the US, Canada, Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands, call 1-800-527-0218
Anywhere else in the world, call 1-410-453-6330 for the Medex Assistance Coordination Center.
For a complete list of country-specific toll free numbers go to http://www.bussvc.wisc.edu/risk_mgt/MEDEX%20ID%20CARD.pdf (scroll to the bottom of the page)
The following travel related emergency services are available through MEDEX:

special assistance in locating the nearest, most appropriate medical care
management, arrangement and coordination of emergency medical transportation and evacuation, as necessary
assistance in establishing contact with family, personal physician and employer verification of insurance coverage facilitating entry and admissions into hospitals and other medical care providers special assistance in replacing lost or stolen travel documents, including passports location of knowledgeable legal referral assistance
emergency funds transfer translation services and referrals to local interpreters as necessary
coordination of securing bail bonds and other legal instruments courtesy assistance as a UW Hospitals and Clinics employee, what authorization do I need for work-related travel outside the U.S. in securing incidental aid special assistance in the coordination of direct claim payment

9. For UW Hospitals and Clinics employees (including housestaff), what professional liability coverage is provided for work-related travel abroad?

The University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics (UWHC) professional liability policy provides coverage for employees engaged in international clinical, research, and service related pursuits anywhere in the world provided a claim for damages or legal action is filed, commenced and concluded in the United States of America, its territories or possessions, Puerto Rico, or Canada. Employees of UWHC must be performing duties on behalf of the hospital or within the scope of their residency or fellowship program.

10. As a UW Hospitals and Clinics employee, what authorization do I need for work-related travel outside the U.S.?

UWHC staff employees are required to discuss international travel plans with their supervisor and to submit a Request for Leave of Absence form, signed by the supervisor, to the Human Resources Department for approval prior to departure.

Housestaff (residents and fellows) planning international rotations are required to submit a written request from their graduate medical education program director to the UWHC Housestaff Office administrator. The letter should describe the proposed rotation experience, supervision arrangements, and dates of leave, and specifically request continuation of salary support and liability coverage. The Housestaff Office and UWHC General Counsel will review all requests.

Group international activities such as medical service trips that include UWHC employees or housestaff must be reviewed and approved by the appropriate UWHC supervisor(s) and Graduate Medical Education program director(s), in addition to the department Chair(s).

11. Is evacuation and health insurance coverage available for UWHC employees traveling abroad?

The University of Wisconsin or UWHC does not provide overseas health or emergency assistance to UWHC employees who are not also State of Wisconsin employees.

UWHC employees are strongly advised to carry personal medical and evacuation insurance which provides emergency coverage for international travel. Employees are advised to check the applicability of their personal medical insurance coverage while traveling outside the country.

The CISI and MEDEX insurance policies offered by the State of Wisconsin and the UW are not available for purchase from the State or the UW by UWHC employees except in cases where travel is authorized by and at the expense of the University and the volunteer is conducting business or research on behalf of the University.

Medical evacuation policies are available commercially. MEDEX medical and evacuation insurance can be purchased by individuals at http://www.medexassist.com.

12. What policies apply to the conduct of group travel abroad, such as medical mission trips, that include UW or UWHC employees or students?

UW faculty and staff conducting or supervising group study tour, education, research, or medical service programs abroad as UW approved activities are required to comply with the UW System Policy Guidelines for the Conduct of International Programs. The System guidelines apply to all student, faculty and staff participants and include requirements for disclosure of health and safety risks, pre-departure orientation, insurance, emergency procedures, financial management, and participant and sponsor responsibilities. Designated faculty leader(s) and their departments are expected to advise participants of requirements and risks of participation in sponsored programs.

The UW System requires that students undertaking study abroad for UW credit purchase the CISI medical and evacuation insurance policy available through UW Risk Management.

Faculty planning to undertake UW-sponsored group trips abroad should consult with the Global Health Programs office of the Medical School to ensure compliance with System policies.

The Chair or Dean of the sponsoring department or school should approve faculty-led group programs no less than three months prior to the planned departure. Group international activities for which students will receive University of Wisconsin credit must be reviewed and approved by the Global Health Programs office in the Medical School Office of Academic Affairs.

The Global Health Institute office of the Medical School Office of Academic Affairs will review plans on a case-by-case basis for UW faculty-led groups of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students to countries with U.S. State Department or Centers for Disease Control travel warnings. Permission may be denied. Participants are required to sign the UW System Uniform Statement of Responsibility (liability waiver).

Group international activities such as medical service trips that include UWHC employees or housestaff must be reviewed and approved by the appropriate UWHC supervisor(s) and Graduate Medical Education program director(s), in addition to the department Chair(s).

13. As a medical student participating in a study abroad experience, what do I need to know about liability coverage and insurance?

State liability coverage applies to students engaged in approved educational activities performed under the direction and control of the UW. Most health science international experiences such as clinical or research electives are undertaken at sites that are not under direct UW control. At the present time UW Legal Services advises health sciences schools to presume coverage for students completing required clinical or research training, e.g. fourth year electives, in approved programs abroad.

Approval for electives in countries where the Department of State or the CDC has issued travel warnings will be reviewed case-by-case by the Office of Academic Affairs in consultation with the State Department, CDC, UW, and site authorities. Approval may be denied. In the event a warning is issued while the student is abroad, determination of the appropriate action will be made on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the student, supervising preceptors, UW Office of International Studies and Programs and State Department officials.

Upon advice of UW infectious disease specialists, and taking into account warnings from the CDC, travel to countries experiencing serious outbreaks of infectious disease may be restricted.

All UW students undertaking for credit study abroad are required to purchase the UW System medical/evacuation insurance policy (CISI) for the duration of the elective and provide verification of purchase prior to departure. Other insurance plans may not be substituted. The CISI insurance policy must be purchased through either the Global Health Institute, 4256 HSLC, 750 Highland Ave, Madison, WI 53705, 262-3862 or the UW Office of Risk Management at 21 N. Park St. Suite 6101, Madison, WI 53715, 262-0375 prior to travel. The cost is $37 per month. More information is available at http://www.bussvc.wisc.edu/risk_mgt/study_abroad.html.

14. As a medical student participating in a for-credit study abroad experience, what requirements need to be met?

All medical students undertaking for-credit clinical, research, or public health electives outside the US must meet the requirements stated below.

Meet with a Global Health Program staff and/or faculty advisor to discuss educational objectives, review elective guidelines and application process, verify academic eligibility, obtain site information, and identify faculty resources for advising and orientation. Students are expected to maintain contact with the appropriate office or faculty advisor periodically throughout the process of completing an international health elective.

Gather information concerning any in-country political problems, safety concerns, or health hazards by consulting current State Department announcements and publications, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) information, and the sponsoring site.

Submit a letter from the in-country faculty supervisor confirming the dates of elective, including a description of educational activities, on-site supervision, financial obligations and housing arrangements. Obtain elective course approval from the Director of International Health and complete registration.

Participate in a course, orientation workshop, or self-directed study in preparation for the elective.
Submit UW medical assessment form for study abroad. Obtain medical travel advice and immunizations appropriate for host country.

Investigate visa and other entrance requirements that may be enforced in the host country.
Purchase the required UW System medical/evacuation insurance policy (CISI) for the duration of the elective and provide verification of purchase prior to departure.

Designate emergency contact persons at the elective site and in the US.
Register with the US Embassy in the host country prior to or upon arrival.
Adhere to laws of the host country, standards of professional behavior, and standards of conduct set by the program site.
Sign and submit the University of Wisconsin System Uniform Statement of Responsibility, Release, and Authorization to participate in study abroad and exchange programs prior to departure which establishes informed consent, assumption of risk, and understanding of the terms and conditions of the program abroad.
Submit an official evaluation of student academic performance and grade completed by the site preceptor. Credit will not be granted for electives without such evaluation. Submit a student elective report and evaluation of the elective to the Office of Academic Affairs.
Comply with additional academic requirements to satisfactorily complete an international elective specified by UW course descriptions, the host site, or the UW faculty advisor.
Students should consult with the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health Global Health Institute office regarding these requirements.

15. Who do I contact if I have questions about the policies?

Questions about the MEDEX and CISI insurance policies should be directed to Jeanine Critchley, UW Office of Risk Management, 21 N. Park St. Suite 6101, Madison, WI 53715, 262-0375

Questions about faculty, staff or medical student travel abroad should be directed to the Global Health Institute office, UW Medical School. Contacts: Dr. James Conway jhconway@pediatrics.wisc.edu, Lori DiPrete Brown dipretebrown@wisc.edu, or Betsy Teigland teigland@wisc.edu.

Housestaff and fellows should check with their respective programs, departments, or UWHC administration for guidance.

16. In addition to my health plan’s travel clinic, what resources are recommended for information about travel health and safety?

U. S. Department of State Travel Warnings

U.S. Centers for Disease Control Travel Information

Services and Information for U.S. Citizens Abroad

U.S. Department of State Foreign Entry Requirements (Visa requirements for tourism/business)

U. S. Department of State Consular Affairs Homepage

U. S. Department of State Consular Affairs Travel Publications

U. S. Department of State Safe Trip Abroad

U.S. Department of State Travel Tips for Students

A Safe Trip Abroad

Online U.S. Embassies and Consulates

Passport applications and information

U. S. Customs regulations

Tips for Students Studying Abroad