Medical Precautions & Insurance
When you imagine yourself studying abroad, you probably think about the fascinating people you will meet, the unique cultures you will encounter, and the impact study abroad will have on your personal growth, world perspective, and future career. Study abroad is an exciting and transformative experience, but it is not without risks to your personal health and safety. Taking appropriate medical precautions before you leave can help mitigate many of these risks. In this section, you will find information about some of the steps to take before you leave that can promote good health abroad.
Purchase UW Student Abroad Insurance
- Visit the website and fill out a short form.
- Provide your contact information, your destination and travel dates.
- Pay by credit or debit card.
The UW Student Abroad Insurance Plan is a comprehensive international medical and emergency evacuation insurance plan designed to meet the specific needs of study abroad students. If you become ill or require hospitalization, the plan can connect you to healthcare professionals so that you can receive the care you need. The Student Abroad Insurance Plan will arrange for direct payment if you are able to contact them in advance of your clinic or hospital visit. If you are not able to contact the insurance provider ahead of time, you may have to pay your medical bills up front and then submit a claim for reimbursement.
If you need to be evacuated from the country due to an emergency medical condition, a natural disaster, or security concern, the policy will arrange and pay the costs of critical care and transportation. For a complete description of benefits, visit the UW Student Abroad Insurance Website.
Other plans and insurance waivers
- If you already have another study abroad insurance plan that covers expenses arising from emergency evacuation, repatriation of remains, injury, illness or death while participating in study or research abroad, you can petition for a UW Student Abroad Insurance waiver.
- If the petition is granted, you will be exempt from the requirement to purchase the UW Study Abroad Insurance Plan on the condition that your personal insurance remains unchanged and in force for the duration of your educational activities abroad.
Trip cancellation insurance
Purchasing trip cancellation insurance offers a layer of financial protection should your program or travel plans be cancelled, interrupted or delayed. Typical policies cover cancellation or interruption for:
- Weather-related issues
- Illness or injury
- Changes of mind
- Sudden travel conflicts
- Delay in obtaining a visa or passport
Some policies also cover acts of terrorism, airline bankruptcy, and accidents en route to the airport. The cost for travel insurance varies depending on the level coverage, but generally ranges between 4-8% of the trip cost. Good resources to consider are insurance companies listed with the U.S. Travel Insurance Association, which provides advice on choosing travel insurance.
Visit the UW Medicine Travel Clinic at Hall Health Center
One of the most important things you can do to have a fantastic experience abroad is to take care of your health—before you go! Schedule a visit for a pre-travel counseling appointment at the UW Medicine Travel Clinic at Hall Health Center well in advance of your study abroad program. This is particularly crucial if you are traveling to a country with higher travel health risks, including parts of Africa, South and Southeast Asia, and Latin America.
While a Hall Health Travel Clinic visit is not required for study abroad enrollment, it is an important and convenient service available to students, staff and the wider community. As of 2014, most insurance providers cover the travel clinic consultation and routine immunizations, such as tetanus, polio, influenza, Hepatitis A and B. Check your insurance plan to see if this applies to you. You may also use your once per quarter Hall Health visit for the Travel Clinic. To use your once per quarter Hall Health visit for the Travel Clinic, you must be enrolled on campus. For more information, visit the Hall Health’s website.
Hall Health Travel Clinic consultations are available by appointment and include:
- Country-by-country analysis of your itinerary, anticipated activities, and immunization review to develop an individualized plan
- Advice on malaria prevention and options for anti-malaria medications
- Information and prescriptions to help prevent and/or treat illnesses while traveling, such as traveler’s diarrhea and altitude sickness
- Routine and travel-related immunizations (yellow fever, Japanese Encephalitis, rabies and typhoid) at time of visit
- Hall Health Center has an on-site pharmacy with travel related medications and supplies
To schedule your travel consultation, call (206) 616-2495. For pre-consultation instructions and pre-departure recommendations visit Hall Health’s Travel Clinic webpage.
Get recommended immunizations
Regardless of your destination, you should be up to date on all routine immunizations recommended for the United States prior to departure. You should also seek itinerary-specific travel advice and vaccinations before travel from your personal physician or another provider. Schedule your travel advice appointment at least eight weeks prior to your date of departure as some vaccines require multiple visits to the clinic over a period of weeks.
Obtain more travel health information using these expert resources:
- Hall Health Travel Clinic
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Food and Drug Administration
- World Health Organization
Order prescription medications
If you take prescription medications regularly, there are some things to consider when studying abroad.
- Bring enough medication to last throughout your time abroad, if practical.
- Obtain a letter from your home physician or pharmacist describing your medicines, dosage, a generic name for them, and a description of the condition being treated.
- Think about having your prescription translated into the language of your destination country in order to have it filled properly.
- Let your doctor know that you intend to travel abroad so that he/she can provide the appropriate documentation you will need to fill the prescription while away from home.
- Tell your program director or program provider about your medical needs so that they are aware of your condition and medical needs.
- Make sure all drugs carried with you while travelling are in the original pharmacy containers and are clearly labeled.
- Carry copies of the prescriptions to avoid problems with customs.
- We recommend that you verify that your prescription is legal in the countries you intend to visit well in advance of your departure by checking with their embassies/consulates.
- If you are diabetic or have another medical condition in which a syringe is needed to administer medication, bring a supply of disposable syringes. These are not available in all countries, and are essential to protect yourself against HIV, hepatitis, and other communicable illnesses. Some countries, however, restrict the import of syringes – as well as certain medications and contraceptives. Before departure, find out if this applies to your host country.
- For certain conditions such as diabetes, asthma, mild epilepsy, or allergy to penicillin, it would be wise to wear a tag or a bracelet or carry a card to identify the condition so that you can be treated properly.
- If you wear prescriptive eye-glasses or contact lenses, you should also take a second pair in case your primary set is lost or damaged.
Register your trip
Register your trip in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. STEP is a free service of the U.S. Department of State. Through it, you can provide information about your trip so that they can better assist you in case of an emergency and provide important health, safety and security updates for your host country.