Health insurance

U.S. health insurance is not always valid outside the United States. While most insurance providers, including Medicare and Medicaid programs, do not provide for payment of medical services outside the country, doctors and hospitals abroad often expect immediate cash payment for health services. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas may face extreme difficulties with health services and payment for those services.

This is why the University of Wisconsin System has mandated that all University of Wisconsin students studying or traveling abroad under a UW-sponsored program must enroll in health insurance through Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI). In other words, you have to sign up for CISI as a condition of studying abroad.

In addition, certain countries require that foreign students participating in study abroad programs purchase health insurance in their country; it is your responsibility to make determine if such a requirement is in effect for your study abroad program. You can check with International Engineering staff if you are not sure. This requirement for health insurance abroad is in addition to UW-Madisonís requirement. In other words, you may have to sign up for both.

CISI is designed for the University of Wisconsin System study abroad and international exchange programs. Coverage duration varies by program location and term, but generally will start a day or two before the official program start date and terminate within a week or two of the program's conclusion. You may extend your coverage (if you extend your program or continue to travel after the academic program ends) by contacting Cultural Insurance Services International at (800) 303-8120 or 203-399-5132 or by writing to CISI at River Plaza, 9 West Broad Street, Stamford, CT 06902-3788. Please see the World Class Coverage Plan Brochure on the CISI web site for additional information. If you need a full-time enrollment letter in order to maintain your current health insurance coverage, please contact the Office of the Registrar.

Frequently asked questions regarding CISI health insurance

1. What are the terms of this insurance coverage?

This insurance provides a comprehensive package of medical benefits and emergency services specifically designed to address the risks associated with study abroad. The coverage is primary. Specific benefits include coverage for expenses such as those related to medical incidents, accidental death/dismemberment, emergency medical evacuation or repatriation, etc. Additional coverage includes mental health, maternity, and other health concerns. The coverage also includes telephone assistance and coordination while overseas, and coverage for one family member for travel to and lodging in the host country should the participant be hospitalized for at least seven days. For detailed information on the benefits and amounts of coverage, consult the CISI brochure that will be provided to you upon your enrollment, or visit the CISI web site.

2. For whom is this insurance intended?

This insurance program is intended for any current faculty, staff, or student participating in international education activities sponsored by the University of Wisconsin System. A student is any person who is registered for study in any UW System institution for the current academic period.

3. Am I required to purchase this insurance?

All University of Wisconsin students will be required to purchase this insurance when they participate in a university-sponsored international education experience outside the United States. The cost of the insurance is included in International Engineering fees. Faculty and staff are not required to purchase this insurance, but are encouraged to do so.

4. Are dependents eligible for this coverage?

No.

5. Does the insurance cover "Special Students"?

Yes, all students who are currently enrolled at the time they engage in international education activities outside the United States are required to purchase this insurance.

6. Are there any age restrictions associated with this coverage?

No, this insurance applies to all age groups.

7. Does this policy provide coverage for acts of war or terrorism?

The insurance policy contains an exclusion for acts of war, when war has officially been declared. However, this insurance coverage applies even if the State Department issues a warning not to travel to a specific location. It will also cover injury resulting from acts of terrorism, such as treatment for anthrax.

8. Can I get a refund if the trip is canceled?

Yes, the company will refund the insurance fee if the trip is cancelled and will prorate the refund for insurance already paid if the trip is interrupted. All refunds for insurance are handled between CISI and the institution, not directly with trip participants. This policy does not provide coverage for trip cancellation or trip interruption. Since the insurance is included in the program fees, IESP will handle the refund.

9. How soon do I need to enroll in the insurance program in order to ensure coverage?

You will automatically be enrolled in the insurance program once you have accepted a space in an IESP program.

10. How do I get information on the levels and types of coverage?

You may obtain information on the health insurance program on the CISI website.

11. What if I already have insurance for international travel?

This insurance is mandatory and will be your primary coverage. There is no option to waive the insurance coverage.

12. What about programs that require students to buy insurance coverage through the host country? Can I get a waiver from the UW insurance requirement?

We are aware that some countries require the purchase of country insurance in order to secure an international student visa, and so purchase of the UW System policy may seem unnecessary. However, there are some important differences between the two types of coverage. Country insurance provides no benefit for medical evacuation and repatriation. Country insurance is specific to the host country, and will not provide coverage for participants who travel to other countries while studying abroad. For this reason, the UW System requirement will not be waived in these circumstances. However, some foreign consulates may issue student visas without requiring purchase of the country insurance if the participant can provide proof of coverage under a valid group plan. The sponsoring UW System institution and CISI will work with participants to provide proof of coverage letters for submission to consulates.

13. How much insurance do I have to buy?

This insurance coverage is purchased in one-month increments, where a month is defined as any 30-day period. Coverage begins and ends according to the dates requested by International Engineering at UW-Madison. If you wish to extend your coverage, please contact CISI directly.

14. How much does the insurance cost?

The monthly premium rate is currently $34.

15. How do I file a claim if something happens?

Individuals file claims directly with CISI. Prior to departure, all participants will receive an identification card and information explaining benefits under the program, including a claim form and instructions. Claims must be filed within 52 weeks of the reported incident, accident or illness.

All students should have adequate health insurance coverage for travel within, to and from their host country, and for visits to neighboring countries.