Tuesday, November 16, 2010

We Devour Information to Insure Your Child’s Safety (and now share it on Twitter)

At People to People Ambassador Programs, the safety and health of all delegates and leader is our top priority. Knowing - and understanding - the current state of affairs in all parts of the world we travel is critical in our achieving that goal. In order to stay up to speed in this area, we use multiple resources to ensure we have the latest and most accurate intelligence.
  • Local Knowledge: People to People Ambassador Programs has more than 22 world wide partners who live and work in the locations we visit. These organizations are well connected within the local authorities and are in a unique position to pass along current and relevant information.

  • Past Experiences. We have been operating programs around the world for more the 50 years and we have many proven safety and health procedures that provide for the greatest opportunity for an event-free experience for our students.

  • Government and Private Sources: We rely heavily on docleaf, a London-based crisis response provider, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Embassies all over the world. We also work closely with the United States State Department and their available resources.
One of our primary resources is the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC). OSAC has many highly skilled regional coordinators on staff who collect and analyze the most current intelligence from all corners of the world, and share safety and security information with all businesses working outside of the United States. OSAC has more than 100 Country Councils, and more than 3,500 constituent member organizations, like People to People.

Tomorrow, November 17th, 2011, OSAC will hold its 25th annual briefing (in which I will be in attendance). The title of the conference is appropriately named “Celebrating the Past - Protecting the Future." This briefing will be filled with updates on topic related to keeping people safe while traveling. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to kick off the conference and will be joined by such notable speakers as Under Secretary for Political Affairs, William Burns, and Tom Brokaw (former anchor and managing editor for NBC Nightly News).

Immediately following the OSAC conference, we'll get an update from the Domestic Security Alliance Counsel (DSAC) a group formed by the FBI to share critical news and information related to domestic conditions. With our expanding Leadership Programs held in Washington, DC and at many well known Universities, this information will be invaluable.

Tune in on Twitter
Recently, I opened a Twitter account (@MikeP2Psafety) so I plan to tweet updates from the conference. I won’t be sharing important security information, but I'll share what I can. Feel free to follow my tweets at www.twitter.com/MikeP2Psafety.

People to People Ambassador Program’s involvement in OSAC and other organizations is just one more way we strive for safety and health excellence. Our goal is to remain the safety and health leader in the student educational travel field and continue to share what we learn with other student travel organizations.

With that, I wish you all safe travels and a healthy life.

Mike Bowers,
Senior Director of Health and Safety

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Travel Insurance is Recommended for Student Travel

[Image Credit: Lisa Bower]

For those parents whose students are scheduled to travel in the summer of 2011 with People to People Ambassador Programs, now is about the time that you receive your first invoice for our program. It usually includes the first payment due for the program, the zone fare (or additional fare to the departure city) and the optional Delegate Protection Plan.

What does this insurance do that other insurance doesn’t? And does that mean that I am not covered through your program already? We are frequently asked these questions.

We take safety very seriously. We will always ensure your child is supervised and taken care of during any kind of emergency. Because of that, every student traveler is automatically enrolled in a Medical Protection Plan. This is included in the cost of the program and provides medical benefits such as:
  • Accident Medical & Sickness Medical ($25,000)
  • Emergency evacuation ($25,000)
  • Accidental death and dismemberment ($5,000)
The optional Delegate Protection Plan provides greatly enhanced benefits designed to give you peace of mind for anything that may happen so that you can focus on your child’s comfort and health rather than on insurance issues.

It is more comprehensive with raised benefit levels from the basic plan. The coverage generally provides for:
  • Trip related benefits
  • Trip delay benefit up to $500
  • Trip interruption up to the total program cost
  • Delayed baggage coverage up to $500
  • Baggage and personal effects loss of $1,500
  • Emergency evacuation up to $500,000
Health related benefits:
  • Accident medical and sickness medical coverage ($100,000)
  • Accidental death and dismemberment ($25,000)
And new this year, we have expanded the program to include pre-travel protection due to today’s economic situation. It now includes job related benefits including:
  • Job loss coverage in the event of unforeseen parent or legal guardian’s involuntarily loss of employment or lay-off by their employer.
  • Cancel for Any Reason coverage in the event a student must withdraw from the program for a reason that is not covered in the Delegate Protection Plan, the student will be reimbursed for 75% of the non-refundable program costs incurred.
I am very happy to see this year’s plan included 'loss of job' and 'cancel for any reason' protection. Hopefully the economy is past the deepest slump of the recession but this provides additional peace of mind for anyone enrolled.

Because I lead the on-call team during the travel season (who are there 24/7 to support the leaders, students, and families), I see firsthand where this insurance becomes useful.

Medically-based travel becomes much more expensive than general travel very quickly. I saw several cases this year, where students with painful but relatively minor injuries that you see at home every day became very expensive.

For example, I was involved with a student who twisted her ankle. She was never in any danger, but did need medical care. She required surgery in the country, separate hotel accommodations, a personal travel nurse who arrived prior to her leaving and accompanied her door-to-door, and a business class ticket back home.

When you have tens of thousands of students around the world it is not unusual for a few students to incur these types of injuries while on program. Things like last minute international business class tickets, personal care nurses, and minor surgeries add up quickly and sometimes exceed the coverage of the basic Medical Protection Plan.

The good news is that this particular family purchased the optional Delegate Protection Plan. It turned a very complicated and expensive experience into a very manageable one. They paid nothing out of pocket.

Both the included Medical Protection Plan and the optional Delegate Protection Plan are primary insurance. That means any benefits are paid before your personal insurance kicks in (with a limited exception for delayed or damaged baggage—due to airline regulations). [Update: Please refer to your plan's description of coverage - provided to you after enrollment - or by contacting BerkelyCare at 800-332-7374 for additional information.]

My youngest boy will be traveling this next summer with People to People Ambassador Programs and we are all very excited around the Bowers house - but it is a good feeling knowing I have that optional Delegate Protection Plan insurance coverage in place. I am electing to keep it for my son because I have personally seen it pay off for many families. And for the peace of mind for my wife and I while my son is on his life-changing adventure.

Wishing you safe and happy travels, 

Mike Bowers

Senior Director of Health and Safety