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International SOS and Global Insurance

International SOS

The University of Washington cares about it’s global travelers – faculty, staff, and students alike. To continually offer the best quality care and response for emergencies that occur abroad, UW changed insurance and emergency assistance providers, effective January 1, 2024. This changes reflects a commitment to UW’s global engagement and an emphasis on traveler safety and security, wherever they may be in the world.

Who is International SOS and what does this mean for you?

International SOS materials will be deployed in your travel registration. If you are a student participating in a UW study abroad program, accessing your International SOS materials will be part of your study abroad application. In lieu of purchasing and enrolling in insurance, you will be required to activate and download International SOS. For all students, your student account will be charged for insurance/International SOS based on the duration of your program. For faculty and staff, your fees will be covered by the Executive Office. For answers to more questions, see below.

Watch an introductory video


International SOS is an emergency assistance provider that the University of Washington contracts to assist travelers in the event of an emergency abroad.

International SOS is not insurance, however they are connected to the international insurance plan through the University. To learn more about your coverage, see here.

Individual travelers routed through International SOS shouldn’t have to submit reimbursement claims. International SOS membership provides access to emergency medical, mental health, and security services and evacuations. Travelers will have access to 1,000 International SOS clinics in 90 countries and additional local clinics that have previous agreements with International SOS. Travelers will also have access to online and app-based resources, unique to their itinerary location.

Yes. International SOS is the primary way students, staff, and faculty can access insurance coverage. The International SOS activation material will be automatically populated into your travel registration portal. For students, failure to complete all required pre-departure requirements, including your activating International SOS account, is in conflict with the Official International Student Travel Policy and will result in a withdrawal from the program, being dropped from FSTDY 300, or not receiving academic credit.

For faculty and staff, activating International SOS is strongly recommended, as it enables employees of the university to access the insurance coverage that is paid for by the Executive Office. Many units also require travel registration as part of the travel reimbursement process. Please note international emergency and medical insurance coverage only extends to official UW travel. Official = travel sponsored, arranged, administered, or funded by UW.

If I am traveling on personal holiday or unaffiliated travel?

No. Emergency assistance through ISOS and the insurance coverage itself through Cigna are both for solely ‘official’ UW international business travel. This could include any travel that is funded, sponsored, organized, or administered by UW. It also includes any travel where you are representing UW abroad or traveling in your official capacity as a UW faculty or staff member.

If I am a dependent of a UW employee or student?

No. Emergency assistance and insurance coverage are available for UW students and employees, not their dependents at this time. Supplemental insurance policies can be purchased for dependents.

If I am a former UW student or employee?

No. Only currently those currently enrolled or employees by the University are eligible for coverage and emergency assistance through ISOS.

Note that employees traveling as part of their UW employment, who are otherwise enrolled in credit-bearing courses at UW, are required to register their travel as a student.


For faculty/staff who are otherwise not enrolled in any credit-bearing capacity at UW, International SOS is covered as part of a blanket insurance plan paid for by the Executive Office. You will not be billed or prompted to enter payment information in any way.

For students (which includes employees of UW who are enrolled in credit-bearing classes), your student account will be billed for the cost of International SOS and insurance, bracketed to the length of your program. You will not be prompted to enter any payment or credit card information but will instead see the charge on your student account statement, as is the case with other Study Abroad charges.

The cost of International SOS and international insurance will be charged to your student account according to the duration of time you will be abroad. The University of Washington has five brackets, used to determine both the length of your program and subsequent charge:

  • $25 Super Short Term (including spring break trips)
  • $55 Short Term (including summer A, summer B, and early fall)
  • $140 One Quarter (including autumn, spring, summer, and winter quarters)
  • $250 Semester (study abroad for two consecutive quarters)
  • $560 Yearlong (study abroad for 3+ quarters)

As soon as possible!

In an emergency situation, you should call the country’s 911-equivalent first. If you need an ambulance, fire department, or police, you will be dependent on local services to establish immediate safety.

Contacting International SOS works a little bit like car repairs: as soon as your car starts making a strange noise, it’s best to get it checked. If you wait until there is smoke under the hood, it is likely to be a much longer and more complicated process. The sooner you can call International SOS, even if it might turn out to be nothing, the better.

The 24/7 emergency assistance line is there to be used for any medical, mental health, or security incident while abroad. International SOS will also notify UW Global Travel Security (GTS), who will be able to provide additional resources or support, should you need it. As always, you can reach out directly to UW GTS, at, with any questions or to report an incident.

International SOS is designed to be used for any medical, mental health, or security incident abroad. No issues is too big or too small for calling their 24/7 emergency assistance line (accessible through the ISOS app).

  • You get sick and need to go to the hospital. International SOS will direct you to their nearest hospital or clinic, where they will work on setting up a guarantee of payment, so that you’ll never see a bill or need to submit a claim.
  • Your passport is stolen. International SOS will be able to point you in the direction of the local embassy and advise you on next steps, related to traveling home.
  • Your mental health takes a turn. International SOS has both virtual and in-country resources (depending on location) and can work with you on getting the help you need while abroad.

International SOS is an emergency assistance provider that works directly with UW’s international insurance provider (Cigna) to handle incidents and make direct payments, so that you shouldn’t need to see a bill or be prompted to file a claim. The international insurance policy, provided by Cigna, for students, faculty, and staff provides coverage for medical, mental health, and security incidents, including medical and security evacuations, hospital visits, mental health crises, repatriation, and accidental death/dismemberment. Please review the full policy document for the full list of exclusions.

The University of Washington does not provide travel insurance to students, staff, or faculty. The following items are not covered under the medical and security insurance plan that all UW global travelers are covered under:

  • “Travel insurance” items, such as trip delay expenses, loss/theft of personal items, or property damage
  • Emergency/medical services when traveling to Department of State Level 4 (Do Not Travel) countries
  • Extreme activities, such as skydiving, deep sea scuba diving, or high-altitude mountain biking
  • Dependents of University personnel

To view the specifics of the global insurance coverage provided by the University, see: UW Global Benefits at a Glance. You can view the full policy including specific coverages, exclusions and terms HERE.

Travelers can access International SOS materials and activation through their travel registration. If you are a student participating in a UW study abroad program, accessing your International SOS materials will be part of your study abroad application

The emergency assistance/insurance requirement will prompt users to input the unique University member ID and login using their UW email.

Travelers will also be prompted to download the ISOS app, to access the 24/7 emergency line, itinerary-specific resources, and member information.

UW Global Travel Health and Safety is happy to provide certificates of coverage for travelers needing them, whether for a visa application or an exchange enrollment.

Reach out at and we will get back to you with your unique certificate of coverage within 1-3 business days.

It is unlikely.

For students requesting to waive out of the cost of global insurance and International SOS, they will be required to demonstrate proof of equal and adequate medical, mental health, and security coverage. Insurance waivers can be submitted through the travel registration portal.

Insurance waivers are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and the majority are not approved, as per University policy. To see what is covered under the University global insurance policy and check how your international or home country insurance compares, see: UW Global Benefits at a Glance.

More details about the insurance waiver process can be found here.


Have a question that wasn’t answered here?
Don’t hesitate to reach out to UW Global Travel Health and Safety at