Start a Quote

7 Questions to Ask Before Students Travel Abroad

Thousands of students will travel abroad in the next year to participate in school-based exchange and language learning programs and mission trips.

International travel can provide invaluable, enriching experiences for students, but it can also pose unique safety and liability challenges for your school. That’s where a study abroad risk management plan with a detailed risk assessment and training comes in handy. As you’re examining potential issues, ask yourself the following:

1. How old are the students traveling?

Younger students require additional adult supervision. Older students need to be given clear information and instructions.

2. What type of orientation will happen before the trip?

All travelers should receive a briefing that outlines security and safety issues, cultural expectations and school policies.

3.  Where will students stay?

Housing should be arranged with trusted and vetted locations. Keep in mind that many foreign locations do not follow U.S. building codes; request emergency evacuation procedures and other safety measures, and make sure travelers are aware of this information.

4. What are the plans regarding food?

Even the food offered in international restaurants may not be processed in the same ways as that in the United States. For example, salads and other produce may be washed in water that is not safe for your students to drink. Drink only bottled or filtered water and use ice that is made from filtered water. Also keep in mind that meat and seafood inspection processes are different in different parts of the world. Teach participants what to look for in choosing safe things to eat.

5. What types of waivers should be drafted and signed?

Thorough and complete waivers outlining all potential risks should be signed by students and parents. Failing to do so can be a costly mistake: A school in Connecticut was recently required to pay a multimillion dollar award to the family of a student who contracted an insect-borne illness overseas because the threat was not outlined in the liability release form. Learn more about this case, plus tips for creating airtight release forms, in this blog post.

6. Who will be in charge of emergencies, and what will they do in the event of different emergencies?

Develop an emergency response plan that outlines who will be in charge and how to contact them 24/7. Make sure all travelers have essential contact information, too.

7. Does my school have effective insurance?

Most school liability insurance policies provide coverage for events that happen in the United States or for suits that are brought in the United States. However, there may be gaps in coverage for international travel. We recommend reviewing your insurance policy with your broker or agent to identify any gaps in coverage. We also recommend a travel medical policy that includes medical evacuation. Health care overseas can be hard to locate and difficult to negotiate. These policies typically provide valuable assistance with that process.


© 2024 GuideOne Insurance. GuideOne® is the registered trademark of the GuideOne Insurance Company. All rights reserved. This material is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to give specific legal or risk management advice, nor are any suggested checklists or action plans intended to include or address all possible risk management exposures or solutions. You are encouraged to retain your own expert consultants and legal advisors in order to develop a risk management plan specific to your own activities.