New Travel Safety Network will offer assistance to traveling students, employees

February 27, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Beginning later this spring, University employees and students will be asked to register all University-related international travel in a Web-based system that is currently being developed as a way to provide safety support and accurate insurance enrollment verification. The system will be called the Travel Safety Network (TSN).

“The safety of our faculty, staff and students is our highest priority,” said Michael Adewumi, vice provost for global programs. “We have had several emergency situations in the past few years when we have needed to provide emergency evacuation to faculty and students. We want to prepare ahead of time, not in a reactive way, for these instances.”

However, the scope of the project has evolved as developers seek to streamline travel procedures at Penn State to make the process more efficient. Penn State sends more than 10,000 faculty, staff and students abroad each year to all corners of the world and that number continues to grow.

In collaboration with the University Office of Global Programs, Office of Risk Management, the Export Compliance Committee from the Office of Sponsored Programs, Office of Ethics and Compliance, Office of Union and Student Affairs have also provided input to the Travel Safety Network in order to streamline the process to travel internationally.

Because of the overarching cooperation, the TSN can provide for:

  • Emergency assistance – logistics, emergency coordination, case management, emergency message transmission insurance assistance and claims;
  • Group Registration for the U.S. Department of State’s Smart Travelers Enrollment Program – security messages from local embassies, event updates and emergency assistance; and
  • Access to country and travel event-specific travel resources, including trip planning, logistics, custom regulations, U.S. export compliance analysis, and safety and security advice.

In addition, the TSN also brings in HTH Worldwide, the travel insurance the University requires for international travel, which not only covers medical care but provides evacuation to faculty and staff in a country if a natural disaster or political crisis takes place. While the insurance had been available at a low cost, it is now free to employees and does not require any additional advance action for faculty and staff traveling overseas on University business.

Gary Langsdale, University risk officer, explained that this international insurance includes both medical care and evacuation, providing “first dollar” coverage. That means that while standard, U.S.-based health insurance might typically require an employee to pay a medical bill up front and then submit it to the insurance company for reimbursement, the University’s service will pay those costs up front.

“If it’s a University-affiliated trip, it pays every dollar of every injury or illness-related medical bill employees incur,” Langsdale said. “It’s very straightforward.”

In all but extreme cases, employees should let the company providing the coverage, HTH Worldwide, know in advance of receiving care. HTH then directs employees to high-quality, English-speaking medical providers and hospitals where they can receive care for which HTH will pay directly.  

“It’s automatic,” Langsdale said. “They don’t have to enroll separately for the insurance. If they need help that is covered by the insurance, all they have to do is call HTH or go to their website.”

Global Programs will host information sessions and continue to gather feedback and recommendations from key stakeholders from across the University. If you are interested in offering feedback through the testing of the system or have any questions, contact Jennifer Campbell at jjc40@psu.edu or 814-867-3146.

To reach HTH from outside the United States, call 001-610-254-8771 or email assist@HTHworldwide.com. For more information on University resources for those traveling abroad, go to the Risk Management website.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 05, 2015