A newly formed ad hoc committee that comprises 7C treasurers, academic deans and study abroad officials is proposing a new initiative this December to streamline and unify 7C international health insurance coordination. The plan would provide additional coverage for students, staff and faculty traveling on school-sponsored programs.
Amy Mendez, the Risk Management Coordinator of the Claremont University Consortium, has been organizing the effort behind the proposal. In an email to TSL, she wrote that “the objective of the committee was to ensure that the appropriate risk management and insurance framework was in place to support the international activities of the colleges.”
There are currently different policies for each college and additional variation between each college’s programs. However, there have been incidents of concern in the past: During the summer, a group of students from different campuses were participating in research in Israel when renewed hostilities between Israel and Gaza erupted. According to Matt Bibbens, Claremont McKenna’s Vice President for Administration and Planning, General Counsel, and Secretary of the College, that situation made the consortium question “how to best support the community when these instances arise.”
“What we wanted to do was just take a broad look at the current environment to make sure we have the best insurance,” Bibbens said.
Michael Ballagh, the Associate Vice President for Study Abroad & International Programs at Pitzer College, said that the new policy will provide “blanket coverage for faculty, students and administration affiliated with the colleges that are seeking additional support. They can have additional help in evacuating in times of insurrection.”
“There will be no negative impact,” Ballagh added. “Rather than replacing or cutting, there will just be supplemental coverage.”
Pomona College Interim Director of Study Abroad Nicole Sheldon-Desjardins wrote in an email to TSL that Pomona study-abroad students receive supplemental insurance through the International Student Identity Card. The card can be used for the full calendar year and will cover supplemental services such as security, political or disaster evacuation. It is not intended to supplant students’ primary health insurance.
“Supplemental insurance covers students in the event that their primary insurance will not and it covers extras such as medical evacuation and bedside visits,” Sheldon-Desjardins wrote. “Most students also have some type of national health insurance or supplemental health insurance through their study abroad programs.”
The committee reviews and makes appropriate changes to the study abroad system every few years, which includes reviewing the health insurance policy, according to Bibbens.
He noted that there is a broader trend across higher education, not just at the Claremont Colleges, for increased international activities occurring beyond study abroad. Faculty-led programs, international summer internships and other activities are occurring much more frequently.
“International travel is increasing, and I think there is a need to improve the current system,” Bibbens said.
The committee will decide whether to pass the initiative in December.