UC Travel Insurance Program

Case study

Background

The University of California’s mission takes faculty, staff, and
students all over the world, introducing a variety of travel risks
subject to constant change. Prior to October 2007, the
University purchased Travel Accident insurance that included
the primary benefit of Accidental Death and Dismemberment
coverage and some accident/sickness medical expense
coverage. In later years, it was expanded to include limited
emergency medical evacuation and repatriation. While the
University had coverage, it provided only minimum benefits.

As the market for this type of insurance evolved over time,
much better and broader coverage became available. In order
for the University to secure better coverage, it had to provide,
at a minimum, statistics of where and when our employees
and students were traveling. The University had no centralized
source that could provide this information, neither systemwide
nor at individual campuses or medical centers. For example,
UC could not procure travel insurance for high‐risk countries
because of this lack of reliable travel data. This came to light
when some professors and students were planning travel to
Afghanistan.

Goal

Risk Services at the Office of the President aimed to develop a
web portal to capture travel information that would enable the
University to procure better coverage to protect the health,
safety, and security of faculty, students, and staff while
traveling on University business. The portal would be
accessible to all travelers as a resource for information on the
Travel Insurance Program, UC TRIPS.

Successes

UC TRIPS included expanded travel assistance resources,
including, medical evacuation and security extraction which
can deploy emergency response services throughout the world
at a moment’s notice. There are several success stories of UC
employees and students having used these resources.

We were able to locate, provide guidance, and confirm the
safety of several employees and students during the 2008
Mumbai hotel bombing, the 2009 H1N1 flu outbreak in
Mexico, and the 2010 civil unrest in Thailand. A professor
conducting research in New Caledonia was medically
evacuated after being seriously injured when he fell down a
ravine; a journalism student detained by Egyptian police was
extracted from Mahalla during a food riot; travelers were
evacuated following the 2009 coup in Honduras, 2010
earthquake in Haiti, and 2010 earthquake in Chile; travelers
were assisted during the March 2010 volcanic ash cloud in
Europe. All were returned safely to the U.S.

A key feature of UC TRIPS is the ability to provide real‐time
alerts to travelers on conditions impacting their travel (e.g.,
health, security, weather, natural disasters, airport closures,
civil unrest, etc.) and maintain communication with them.

Challenges

Despite the growing success of the systemwide travel program
Connexxus, travel booking within the University is still highly
decentralized. There are numerous methods and avenues for
arranging travel, and it would be impossible to attempt to
retrieve this data from all travel booking methods. The web portal was created as a mechanism
to centralize this travel information.

Initial investment

By leveraging technology developed at UC Riverside, UC TRIPS
was deployed systemwide for just under $100,000. Ongoing
costs are approximately $32,000 per year.

Fiscal results, current and anticipated

While this Program is primarily about providing better
protection and maintaining a centralized source for data, it
also provides cost savings. Prior to UC TRIPS, campus
departments purchased travel coverage for individual trips.
Under UC TRIPS, UC saves approximately 35‐40% and receives
significantly broader coverage. The Education Abroad Program
has benefited greatly from the more comprehensive coverage
provided, including safety information, insurance, and travel
medical and security service. By purchasing this insurance on a
systemwide basis, the University achieves volume savings and
provides uniform and comprehensive coverage to all travelers.

Current action and next steps

We encourage all UC locations to continue to promote the UC
TRIPS and increase awareness of travel risks. Risk Services at
the Office of the President continues to enhance the program
to meet the University’s needs. For example, UC TRIPS has
partnered with Connexxus to provide direct data feeds to
populate travel information.

Concluding statement

Since inception in October 2007, UC TRIPS has proven a vast
improvement over the prior program at no cost to travelers. As
the program continues to grow and improve, it will continue to
effectively protect the health, safety, and security of the
University’s faculty, staff, and students as they carry out the
University’s mission all over the world.