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Northwestern Provides Service for Overseas Travelers

March 5, 2009
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University has contracted with International SOS (SOS) to provide worldwide assistance and services for all students and employees who travel outside the United States to study or conduct University business.

SOS will provide travel, medical and security advice and services to the estimated 1,500 undergraduate and graduate students and 1,000 faculty and staff members who travel overseas on University programs each year.

Services range from telephone advice and referrals to full-scale evacuation by private air ambulance. Students and employees who travel abroad can use the University group membership account number (11BCAS000003) to access the services, including up-to-date reports on health issues, medical care and vaccination requirements in more than 200 countries worldwide.

Information can be obtained at the International SOS website (www.internationalsos.com/). Telephone service is available to reach the SOS network of multilingual specialists that operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year from SOS Alarm Centers around the world.

"SOS membership is being provided by Northwestern free of charge to its students and employees to protect against difficulties that could arise while abroad," said Provost Daniel Linzer. "The program is designed to supplement the policies, procedures and support staff that Northwestern University already has in place."

While International SOS offers on-line access to information that many insurance companies do not offer, SOS does not provide health insurance. Northwestern University continues to require all students participating in study abroad -- or any other official University sanctioned activity such as internships or research abroad -- to maintain health insurance coverage that meets the standards set by the University's Office of Risk Management (http://www.northwestern.edu/risk/) and to make certain that their policies cover them while abroad.

The SOS website contains an on-line Personal Locator form for inputting travel and destination information. Northwestern requires undergraduate and graduate student travelers, who are studying abroad or conducting research or independent study in conjunction with their work at Northwestern, to complete this form so that important information is available to International SOS and Northwestern on-call staff should they need to be located a crisis or emergency. Employees are strongly encouraged, but not required, to complete the Personal locator form.

Once a Personal Locator Form is completed, an Automated Travel Advisory (ATA) will be sent to the traveler; this enables Northwestern University to effectively communicate pre-travel medical and security information to them via email. The information will prepare them for safe travel and also includes vaccination recommendations when applicable. If a situation changes while the traveler is abroad, they will continue to receive situation updates via email until their return.

Travelers have the option to sign up for email Alerts for medical and/or security alerts by logging on and signing up. Medical alerts are issued when there is an unusual health risk that, in the opinion of the SOS medical staff, may negatively impact travelers or expatriates visiting a country. Security alerts are issued when SOS security professionals have identified a security risk in a specific country.

Travelers should carry the wallet card provided by the Office of Risk Management and Study Abroad program managers and is downloadable from the SOS website.
The card contains the Northwestern University group membership number and the Alarm Center phone numbers and should be carried by all travelers at all times when they are overseas.

Highlights of the SOS Medical, Security and Travel Services:

For medical, security or travel services, any SOS Alarm Center can be reached from anywhere in the world by placing an international collect call. The SOS alarm center in Philadelphia is the primary alarm center for Northwestern travelers, and from overseas it can be dialed collect at 001-215-942-8226. Calls originating in the United States can be made to 1-215-942-8226 or to 800-523-6586 toll-free.

Callers should be prepared to provide the following:
-- name, location, age, sex, and nationality
-- program with which you are associated (such as the specific study abroad program, city, and country)
-- International SOS membership number for Northwestern: 11BCAS000003
-- telephone number from which you are calling (in case you are disconnected)
-- relationship to the member (if the person calling is not you)
-- name, location and telephone number of the hospital or clinic (when applicable)
-- name, location, and telephone number for the treating doctor, and where the doctor can be reached (when applicable)

Medical Services included in membership are: emergency and routine medical advice; pre-trip information on travel health issues; medical and dental referrals; outpatient referrals; and claims assistance. Fees apply for these medical services: emergency evacuation; medically-supervised repatriation; companion ticket; additional travel and accommodation arrangements after medical evacuation; repatriation of mortal remains; return home of minor children; medical monitoring; inpatient admission and identification of receiving physician; outpatient case management; outpatient medical expense guarantee and payment; inpatient medical expense guarantee, cost review and payment; dispatch of medication and medical supplies; ground transportation and accommodations for accompanying family members; and International SOS Clinics.

Travel Services are included in membership as are legal referrals and lost document advice. Fees apply for these travel services: travel services; emergency message transmission; translations and interpreters; and emergency personal cash advances.

Security Services included in membership are online travel security information and access to security crisis center. Fees apply for these security services: security services and security evacuation assistance.

Questions about International SOS coverage should be directed to Christopher Johnson, Director of Risk Management at 847-491-8518.
Topics: Campus Life