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International SOS

By Michelle Phillips     2/10/11 6:00pm

Students preparing to study abroad will have one less thing to worry about starting this semester. The Rice University Risk Management team has announced that they are partnering with International SOS in order to provide emergency medical assistance to any students who are abroad.ISOS is the world's leading international healthcare and medical assistance company, with clinics and facilities all over the world. Based on their website, their aim is to deliver the highest level of service and customer care to clients across the world.

According to Renee Block, the director of Risk Management, Rice has been thinking about a partnership like this for some time as the university expands its study abroad options. She said many other schools already have partnerships with ISOS.

ISOS will be on call for any Rice student, faculty or staff member abroad under a Rice-approved program in case of emergency, Block said. This service will be particularly useful for those traveling to remote areas, for whom ISOS can provide evacuation service if needed.

"ISOS has facilities all over the world," Block said, "so they have the ability to provide any emergency medical assistance wherever it's needed."

Although the current deal will only be free for Rice members traveling with a Rice-approved program, students traveling abroad independently will also be able to get a 20 percent discount on ISOS membership by entering in Rice's name.

Block said Risk Management would look through each option abroad on a case-by-case basis to decide which ones would be covered and recommended that every student go through the Risk Management website and enter information to ISOS.

However, Block emphasized that coverage by ISOS is not an insurance plan for students abroad. While ISOS will provide service and pay the bills in case of emergency, the individual's insurance company will need to reimburse ISOS for every use once the student or faculty returns to the states.

"It's important that they will be there for particularly remote areas and in case of emergencies," Block said, adding that ISOS is willing to work with any insurance company.

Several departments on campus are already making use of the ISOS deal, including the Center for Civic Engagement, the Baker Institute and the School of Social Sciences, which is sending a group of students to Istanbul over spring break.

One of the students traveling to Istanbul is McMurtry College junior Audra Herrera.

"I feel safer, because I'm not sure what medical conditions are like in other countries ... so it's reassuring to know that Rice has a backup plan," Herrera said.

Block also said that in case of civil unrest, such as what has recently happened in Egypt, ISOS would also be instrumental in evacuating a person out of danger.

Although Rice members are covered on approved trips, Block said all students should go to the Risk Management website and follow the steps there to get the information they need and provide their information to ISOS.

"What's important is that there shouldn't be anything they need to worry about in terms of medical coverage - they will get it," Block said.

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