Travel Safety & Security and International SOS

Want to talk to us?

Need to talk to someone about safety and security while traveling? Contact us at globalhub@umaryland.edu.

If you are having a medical emergency, contact International SOS.

For non-medical emergencies, contact the International Safety & Security Incident Hotline.

What is ISOS and how does it benefit UMB travelers?

International SOS (ISOS) is a worldwide information, medical, and travel security assistance provider, whose full range of services are available to those traveling internationally for UMB.

Every UMB student, staff, and faculty member is covered by International SOS and must register when they travel as part of their UMB work or study. 

All UMB travelers should download the International SOS app for mobile-phone access to their services while traveling (don't forget to get international coverage and turn on alerts!) and print a copy of the International SOS membership card to carry while traveling.

FAQs about ISOS

Is International SOS a health insurance company? Does it provide health coverage when I’m traveling outside the US?

No, it is not an insurance company, and it does NOT provide health or travel insurance.

What does International SOS provide to UMB's international travelers?

  • Pre-trip planning assistance
  • Security and medical advice with an issue or injury while outside the US
  • Referrals to medical and legal personnel
  • Interpreter service as needed for engaging with international law enforcement or healthcare personnel that do not speak English
  • Emergency evacuation
  • 24/7 access to a live person from anywhere in the world through a comprehensive network spanning the globe

What about medical coverage and medical emergencies when I travel outside the US for UMB?

Your personal health insurance is the primary insurance when you travel internationally. You are strongly advised to contact your personal health insurance provider to inquire about international coverage. If your insurance does not provide any coverage outside your country of residence, you should consider purchasing coverage beyond the emergency coverage provided by UMB.

UMB provides Travel Blanket Accident and Sickness Insurance Benefits for individuals performing short-term business and academic travels outside their home country. The Travel Accident and Sickness insurance benefits are triggered in the circumstances of a medical emergency. If you face a medical emergency, you can use this benefit by contacting International SOS to open a case and receive guidance for emergency care and treatment. 

If you use UMB’s Travel Accident and Sickness insurance benefits, a team of individuals at International SOS, UMB, and its broker will work together to file the insurance claim on your behalf.

Please maintain International SOS's contact information with you so that your medical provider can reach out to International SOS and UMB if you are in an emergency and receive emergency treatment and cannot share your personal medical insurance information.

How much emergency coverage do I have as a UMB traveler, and what exactly is covered?

The Travel Blanket Accident and Sickness Insurance Benefits may cover up to a maximum of $250,000 per accident or sickness and include up to $2,500 in dental benefits related to emergency care.

Benefits will not be payable unless UMB (or our authorized assistance provider) pre-authorizes all expenses in writing or by an authorized electronic or telephonic means.

Am I covered for an emergency medical evacuation?

Under Travel Blanket Accident and Sickness Insurance Benefits, medical evacuation is covered and includes medical transport, medical services, and other related expenses. When applicable, these services will be coordinated by the patient, medical provider, International SOS, and UMB International Operations.

In an emergency, will I need to pay for these benefits upfront?

If the doctor ordering the emergency medical evacuation certifies that the severity of the covered person’s medical emergency requires an emergency medical evacuation, in most cases, payment will not be required upfront. 

When a payment or upfront deposit is required, International SOS and UMB International Operations will work directly with the providers to ensure payment.

Will ISOS pay upfront for medical expenses?

  • International SOS may work with UMB to pay expenses to guarantee payment to a medical provider or a hospital or other treatment facility.
  • Not all expenses can be paid upfront, and many require reimbursement after the fact.
  • The best course of action in any emergency is to call International SOS immediately, as they will guide you through the entire process.

Do I need travel insurance to cover unexpected delays in my travel? Who should pay for this?

Travel insurance is the responsibility of the UMB traveler if they wish to procure it. Since UMB recommends buying refundable airline tickets when possible (and when not cost-prohibitive), no reimbursement for or purchase of travel insurance is authorized.

What happens if I must stay longer somewhere because I need to quarantine? Does UMB insurance cover this?

  • In circumstances where a traveler’s trip is extended because they are subject to quarantine for any contagious disease, it is recommended that the traveler contact International SOS for quarantine guidance and comply with local regulations.
  • UMB’s Travel Blanket Accident and Sickness Insurance Benefits will cover reasonable expenses incurred up to $2,000 or 7 days after the quarantine is issued.

Safety & Security Considerations

Preparing to travel

As you prepare to travel overseas, you can enhance your personal safety and security by educating yourself about the destination country.

  • Visit country-specific websites for information on the political, social, economic, geographic, and other characteristics of your destination.
  • For LGBTQ travelers, understand the laws, levels of enforcement, and cultural restrictions toward homosexuality in destination countries. ISOS has produced a useful white paper Managing and Mitigating Risks for the LGBT Mobile Workforce (2018).
  • Register with your embassy. Many countries offer online registration including the United States via the Smart Travelers Enrollment Plan (STEP).
  • Consult your personal physician to discuss your travel plans.
  • Scan passport and visa, credit cards, passport photos, and other documents that need to be replaced quickly if lost or stolen. Email the scanned copies to your email account for easy access.
  • Pack 2-3 days of "survival items" in your carry-on bag. This includes medicines and toiletries, an extra change of clothes, important documents, snacks, and phone charger, and add drinking water once you clear security.

In transit

The hassles and stress of airline travel can be distracting and make you vulnerable to criminal activity. Those who prey upon travelers are ready to take advantage while you are waiting in line, preoccupied with checking in, negotiating your luggage, or changing money. Given the high state of security at many airports, expect delays and sudden changes in flight schedules.

  • Arrive at the airport in plenty of time. Usually, two hours before departure should suffice, but extraordinary security measures may mean longer delays. Move through passenger security immediately after ticketing and locate your departure gate.
  • Be careful about how much of your personal and business information you share with fellow passengers. After all, the other person is still a stranger.
  • Limit intake of alcohol in flight. Drink plenty of water to counteract jet lag. This will help limit stress and increase alertness.
  • Beware of airport "expediters" who offer to process your documents. If they are legitimate, they should have valid airport photo identification.
  • Be attentive to how you are perceived by the people around you, and behave in a manner that is not provocative nor draws unwanted attention.

Choosing accommodation

When you arrive at your destination, you will be eager to settle in, unpack your bags, take a shower, and get your bearings. Opportunistic and predatory criminals often target hotel guests who are deemed to be rich and unlikely to engage the local authorities or remain in-country to prosecute.

  • Use reputable hotels, hostels, or boarding houses – your safety is worth any added cost.
  • Keep your room number to yourself. If your room key is numbered, or has your room number on a key holder, keep it out of sight.
  • Take a walk around the hotel facilities to familiarize yourself with your environment.
    • How is access to the room floors controlled?
    • Are hotel personnel located on each floor?
    • Are they in uniform? Do they display any identification?
  • Inspect the room carefully.
    • Look under the bed and in the showers and closets.
    • Call the front desk to ensure the telephone works.
    • Ensure the door and window locks are working. Don’t forget to check any sliding glass door.
    • Ensure the door has a peephole and chain lock.
  • Count the doors between your room and the nearest emergency exit (in case of fire or failure of electrical power). Rehearse your escape plan.

Traveling in country

Experience suggests that one's vulnerability to accident or crime increases while traveling overland. Not only may the environment and road conditions be unfamiliar, but you may also encounter unsafe road conditions, untrained or unlicensed drivers, drivers operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and vehicles that are poorly maintained and therefore hazardous (no headlights or tail lights, faulty brakes, smooth tires, etc.), police checkpoints or roadblocks, or bandits and other criminals. 

  • If you are going to drive, educate yourself about local laws and customs regarding rights of way, licensing, and insurance.
  • Plan your trips carefully. Always know where you are going. Study a map. Identify potential hazards and safe havens.
  • Before you leave, let a trusted person know your itinerary, but otherwise safeguard your plans.
  • Carry a mobile phone and charger, first aid kit, maps, and official documents in your vehicle.
  • Understand the local rules for a response should you be involved in or witness a traffic accident. In many cases, stopping for an accident can put your life at risk.
  • Avoid nighttime travel.

Pay attention and keep safe!

If something happens...

Despite all of your efforts to reduce exposure to risks and avoid threats, you may still become the victim of a crime or critical event.

  • Remain calm and alert.
  • Carefully note details of the environment around you (license plate #, distinguishing features, accents, clothing, etc.).
  • Try first to defuse the situation. If an assailant demands property, give it up.
  • If you feel your life is endangered and you decide to physically resist, commit to the decision and fight with every fiber of your being. Turn fear into fury.
  • Report any incident to UMB and your embassy as soon as it is safe to do so.
  • Seek support for post-traumatic stress (even if you exhibit no symptoms).