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Health & Safety

While abroad
Travel Insurance/Evacuation Coverage
Malpractice Coverage


Our priority
The International Center prioritizes the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and community members.


Studying and traveling abroad requires many of the same health and safety precautions that one would take in the US. However, participants need to be aware of additional risks that may be unique to traveling abroad and living in a particular country or region. It is recommended that students visit the State Department Alerts and Warnings page as well as visit the country specific information available through our insurance provider portal, Mercer Travel Assist.

The University does not sponsor or approve international travel for educational purposes in a country for which a U.S. Department of State Travel Warning is in effect; however, the University will consider exceptions on a case-by-case basis if a student, in consultation with his or her primary academic advisor, makes a compelling case that an alternative destination would not equally serve the student's academic, research and/or career goals (click here for more on the appeal process).


All program participants will be enrolled in travel medical insurance for the duration of their time abroad either through UK or the partner program itself, if its insurance coverage meets or exceeds UK standards. Students will receive access an online pre-departure handbook outlining best practices for maintaining good health and safety. Prior to the term that students will be studying abroad, they will receive an email notification outlining their insurance enrollment information and instructions as to whom to contact in case of an emergency and how to file a claim.

Mandatory pre-departure orientation

All participants in credit-bearing programs will be required to attend an on-campus pre-departure orientation in which our professional staff will review topics related to health and safety. Health and safety-related topics to be covered at this meeting will include but not be limited to:

Worldwide Monitoring

The International Center monitors international security and maintains regular communication with in-country faculty leaders, partner institutions and providers. In the event of an emergency, UK Education Abroad can identify the location of all program participants and will initiate communication with the necessary parties immediately and take action as the situation warrants.



Pre-Departure Planning
It is important for program participants to begin planning for their international experience early. Adequate preparation can give peace of mind and ease the adjustment to a new environment. In addition to the information provided below, all program participants will receive an online Pre-Departure handbook outlining best practices for maintaining good health and safety. It is also recommended that any student traveling outside the US make a travel appointment with student health, at least 30 days prior to departure. The phone number to call to set up an appointments is 859-323-2778. Additionally, all participants on credit-bearing programs must attend an on-campus, pre-departure orientation in which our professional staff will review topics related to health and safety.

All program participants are encouraged to visit the CDC's website before departure to educate themselves on healthcare issues they may encounter during their time abroad. Additionally, all students enrolled in UK Travel insurance should register through the AXA portal and familiarize themselves with how to use the site in case any medical needs arise while abroad. Instructions as to how to do this are listed below.

Personal Health

Self-Disclosure Form

All applicants are asked to complete a Self-Disclosure Form as part of the application process. The purpose of the Self-Disclosure Form is for the participant to note any health-related needs that the UK Education Abroad staff should be aware of so that appropriate support may be provided. The type and extent to which accommodations can be provided on-site and the availability of certain medications will vary by country and program. Therefore, it is important for all participants to work with the Education Abroad staff well before departure to ensure that any needs or accommodations can be met while abroad. (All EA application materials are kept confidential in accordance with FERPA.)


Students can choose from multiple campus resources when preparing to go abroad, including travel abroad health services from both University Health Service and the University of Kentucky Health Care Travel Clinic. It is essential that you bring your vaccination history with you to your visit! (Places to check for this vaccination record: home, your pediatrician’s office, or your high school). Generally, visitors to either clinic will need to pay for vaccines up front; then, if the insurance company will cover vaccinations for travel, a claim for reimbursement will need to be filed with the insurance company. It is essential that students work with their insurance company before their visit to be sure of what will and will not be covered. University Health Service, located at the Kentucky Clinic on S. Limestone, offers country-specific counseling, physicals, vaccinations (including yellow fever), prescriptions and some insurance information to students. UHS recommends scheduling appointments at least 4-6 weeks prior to traveling. In order to avoid paying an office visit fee, full-time UK students MUST visit UHS during the spring or fall term, while their student health fee is active. Insurance coverage during the summer is optional, and those students who do not choose summer insurance coverage will need to pay the full amount of the visit during the summer term. The University of Kentucky Health Care Travel Clinic is located at UK HealthCare at Turfland, which is at 2195 Harrodsburg Road. The clinic offers services to meet the medical needs of anyone preparing to travel abroad. All visits are charged a $65 consultation fee, which is discounted for groups of two or more. The full-service travel clinic provides immunizations and country-specific medical advice, as well as post-travel screening and evaluation, upon request. Full-time UK students are not covered by their university insurance at this facility.

Medical Preparation

To make the most of their time abroad, participants need to manage existing and unanticipated health conditions in faraway places where finding a doctor and explaining their symptoms should not be left to chance. The AXA portal provides access to hundreds of pre-approved healthcare providers worldwide, as well as additional destination-specific health and safety information. Participants with pre-existing conditions are advised to contact AXA well in advance of their departure, as access to prescription drugs and treatment for specific healthcare concerns may be more difficult to access abroad than in the U.S. AXA should be able to work with participants to manage these concerns before students arrive on-site.

Participants are urged to register for the Mercer Campus Travel Assistance portal PRIOR TO DEPARTURE! (Please refer to this document for detailed instructions on how to log in). Additionally, it would be helpful to read this Medical Preparation Checklist, as it contains medical and health information designed to minimize risks to participants' health abroad.

Prescription Medications

EA strongly recommends that ANY student taking prescription medication overseas contact AXA PRIOR to departure, as some medications that are legal in this country are not legal in other countries or may not be available. Additionally, students who need prescriptions refilled while abroad will need to start that process by contacting AXA and opening up a case. Part of the refill process includes having this form completed by their regular physician.  AXA will help with these issues, but the process will take 5-10 business days, which is why student should start this before departure.

Personal Safety

Current Event & Local Conditions

Participants should familiarize themselves with current events in their destination region through local newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations. Participants are strongly encouraged to visit the portal provided by AXA in coordination with Mercer Campus Travel’s Assistance to learn about safety issues in the area to which they will be traveling. (See previous paragraph to learn how to log in.) The U.S. Department of State web site also maintains a useful website with safety-related and other information. Additionally, the State Department has a “Smart Traveler” app that a traveler can use on a Smart Phone while abroad. Additionally, this app provides a link to enroll in the Department's free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) so the State Department can better assist the traveler in an emergency.

Travel Documentation

Students should leave copies of their itinerary, passport data page and visas with family or friends so that participants can be contacted in case of an emergency. Participants should confirm that at least one family member has a passport to ensure that family member can travel abroad in the event of an emergency related to the student.

Adhering to Local Law

Laws vary from country to country, and anyone who visits a country will be held accountable to local law. Participants should take time to educate themselves about the laws of the countries in which they are visiting, as legal protection in most other areas of the world is not the same as that of the U.S., and ignorance of the law will not be accepted as an excuse. Participants are also subject to the rules and policies of any hosting institution. Additionally, even while abroad, UK students are expected to respect the UK Code of Student Conduct. Violation of local law, institutional rules and polices, or the Code of Student Conduct may result in expulsion from the program and thus, the loss of academic credit, financial aid and scholarships, and program fees.

Cultural Awareness

Cultural Adjustment

Part of an education abroad experience is being immersed in a culture different from one’s own. This experience is often very rewarding and can promote greater independence, resourcefulness, and appreciation for things outside what's encountered in everyday life at home. It can also be stressful to encounter so many new or different experiences at once. It's important to understand that acclimating to a new environment will take time and that initial feelings wear off into a more balanced mind-set.

It will take some participants more time than others to get used to a new culture. Knowing this, participants should be patient and allow themselves to adapt naturally. Putting unrealistic expectations on oneself can lead to greater discomfort and increased stress. Participants should strive to get enough rest and exercise to lessen stress and to stay healthy. Keeping in touch with friends and family and continuing activities that are enjoyed are all ways to help one’s body and mind cope with the stress and discomfort of culture shock. However, “moderation” in communication with those back home, especially during the initial adjustment period, is recommended. Students need to participate in the “here and now” of the experience, and commitments to communicate with those back home at a certain time each day, for example, may take away from the ability to do that. Additionally, excessive communication can actually worsen homesickness and delay adjustment to the new environment. Prior to departure, students should work with those back home to set reasonable expectations as to communication.

Local Attitudes on Diversity

Participants should also attempt to understand regional and local attitudes on issues such as dress, alcohol consumption, religion, gender roles, sexual orientation and so on well before the start of their program. Please take a moment to review our brochure series on diversity issues and education abroad.

For additional resources on preparation, please consult:

UK Education Abroad Resources:
Education Abroad Resource Center (315 Bradley Hall)
Host Program Resources (e.g., UK Partner, UK Consortia)
Education Abroad Peer Ambassadors (available for walk-in appointments, 9-4 M-F)

UK Campus-wide Resources:
UK Counseling Center
UK Disability Resource Center
UK Office of LGBTQ Resources

Other Resources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
U.S. Department of State: Students Abroad


While Abroad

It is important to consider the safety and health implications of your education abroad experience PRIOR to actually leaving. This section of “Health and Safety” will address a couple of these implications to consider.

Avoid Risky Behavior

In the thrill and excitement of being in another culture, it is important for participants to stay aware of their surroundings and take precautions. Participants should avoid potentially risky behavior while abroad, which can include drinking, traveling alone at night, attracting unwanted attention, etc. Understanding culturally appropriate behaviors can go a long way in ensuring one's safety and security while abroad.

Please take some time to watch the YouTube series called “Health and Safety Abroad” which was created by HTH Worldwide Travel Insurance. This series covers how to address, avoid or manage issues related to alcohol, prescription drugs, illegal drugs, mental illness, chronic illness, STDs, jet lag, traveler's diarrhea, sun exposure, malaria, motion sickness, water hazards, altitude sickness and security.

For participants traveling to a remote location, it is also important to read the Staying Healthy and Safe in Remote Locations brochure.

Staying Healthy and Safe

Smart Traveler Enrollment Program

U.S. citizens should sign up for the free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program at This will help the Department of State contact U.S. citizens if there is a family emergency in the U.S., or if there is a crisis where they are traveling. In accordance with the Privacy Act, information will not be released to others without express authorization.

Emergency Contact Information Card

It is prudent for participants to carry an Emergency Contact Information Card at all times. Be sure to include local emergency contact information, the contact information of the on-site staff, and any other essential information in case of an emergency. If necessary, the information should also be noted in the local language.

Personal Travel

Part of an experience abroad is engaging in the local culture. Participants are encouraged to be open to new experiences but also not to let down their guard. Telephone numbers, addresses, and other personal information should not be given to strangers. When traveling alone or in small groups, participants should leave their itinerary with the program leader, site leader, or another trusted individual. Any valuables should be left at home. Do not leave unattended luggage in public areas, and do not accept packages from strangers.

Clothing & Style

To avoid being a target of crime, participants should not wear conspicuous clothing or jewelry or carry excessive amounts of money. Wearing clothing without insignia can help one blend in with the local population. Standing out as an American could invite anti-American sentiment in some locations. Participants should stay aware of the attitudes, dress, and behavior of the local population in order avoid drawing unwanted attention.


Some of the most common problems occurring among education abroad participants are linked to alcohol consumption. Drinking excessively can lead to a loss of control resulting in theft, assault, and unsafe sexual contact. Excessive drinking can also lead to entanglements with local authorities, a violation of host institution rules and policies, and can have repercussions at UK.

Sexual Health

Whatever decisions the participant makes about sexual behavior while abroad, it is important to make smart and healthy decisions. Please review this booklet, Sexual Health Abroad: A Guide to Healthy Practices During Education Abroad.

What to do in an emergency
(click to view)

Make sure the participant knows the emergency phone numbers for the country in which they are studying. In the event of an emergency while abroad, first contact the appropriate local authorities as soon as possible. Then, contact the program director or on-site UK faculty member for guidance. In case of health-related emergences, contact AXA Assistance in Coordination with Mercer at 1-312-935-1469. Then, contact the University of Kentucky police department, who will relay the call to the appropriate authorities on campus. The 24-hour line for the UKPD is 1-859-257-8573.

Consular personnel at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad and in the U.S. are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to provide emergency assistance to U.S. citizens. Contact information for U.S. Embassies and Consulates appears on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website at Also note that the Office of Overseas Citizen Services in the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs may be reached for assistance with emergencies at 1-888-407-4747, if calling from the U.S. or Canada, or 202-501-4444, if calling from overseas.

Faculty members may electronically submit the Education Abroad Incident Report Form in order to quickly inform the EA staff of incidents on-site that may require attention.

Emergency Contacts Phone Numbers
AXA Security/Medical Assistance 1-(312)-935-3542 (24h)
University of Kentucky Police 1 - (859) 257-8573 (24h)
Miko McFarland, Acting Director, Education Abroad Cell: 1-(417) 337-1316
Jason Hope, UK International Center (Risk Management) Cell:1-(502)-657-9998
Main Phone Line, UK Education Abroad Tel: 1-(859) 257-4067

Note: Calls from abroad require that the U.S. country code be entered before the local area code. In most countries, the code is 001. For example, for the UK Education Abroad main office line, dial 001-859-257-4067.


Travel Insurance/Evacuation Coverage

Participants in any University-approved or sponsored international education travel experience, whether credit-bearing or non-credit-bearing, are required to purchase Travel Medical Insurance through the International Center (UKIC). UKIC may grant exceptions in cases when participants have existing coverage that meets the minimum standards of the University or are participating in external programs that offer uniform coverage that meets the minimum standards of the University. No exceptions are granted to participants of international group travel experiences.

UK’s International Travel Medical and Evacuation Insurance can also extend to a lawful spouse or dependent children of UK students that accompany them on Education Abroad programs. To avoid interruption in coverage, prior to departure the UK Student must provide the Education Abroad office written disclosure of names, dates of birth, and relationships of individuals accompanying the student.

This insurance is intended to provide coverage for eligible travelers to destinations outside of their home country. If you are traveling to or in a country: i) from which you hold a passport; ii) in which you maintain your primary residence; or iii) in which you will be assigned for a year or more, you are not eligible for coverage under this plan. If you hold a passport in more than one country, contact the International Center for more information on certain exceptions.

Students, faculty, staff, or non-University individuals who provide patient care in clinical international programs sponsored by the University of Kentucky, whether credit-bearing or non-credit bearing, shall also provide evidence of malpractice insurance that meets or exceeds the University coverage.

Questions and concerns should be directed to Education Abroad at or 859-257-4067.


AXA Assistance

UK Education Abroad travel medical insurance for participants is provided by AXA Assistance. Please note that students on certain partner programs may be covered by their partner provider's insurance plan, rather than UK's. Scroll down to the "waivers" section of this page to see if the students partner program is exempt from UK's insurance. If the student has additional questions about which coverage they will carry, contact

Travel medical insurance/evacuation coverage is purchased on behalf of each participant by UK Education Abroad for the duration of the international program, and the cost is billed to participants via UK billing services. Program participants not enrolled at UK are requested to pay with a bank check made payable to the University of Kentucky. The cost of enrollment is $10.50/week (billed in weekly increments to the participant's student account). Cost is subject to change on policy renewals in August of each year.

Participants will have coverage for the duration of their international program, and for a total of 14 days immediately adjacent to their program dates, in the event that they wish to travel before or after their program. Participants who wish to have coverage beyond this 14 day window are strongly encouraged to purchase an independent international travel medical insurance and evacuation policy for any additional time abroad.

To access insurance benefits from overseas, participants should call AXA Assistance's direct number, at 1-312-935-3542. Their line is staffed at all times. Resources may also be accessed by e-mailing Before departure, participants should carefully review this document, which outlines the information that should be prepared before calling.

In the event of an emergency when participants are unable to contact AXA Assistance before seeking treatment, the Medical Claim Form should be used to file claims for reimbursement with the insurance company. To file a claim under the University's trip cancellation or interruption benefit, a different form should be submitted. Step by step instructions on the claims filing process can be found in this document.

Prescription Medication

EA strongly recommends that ANY student taking prescription medication overseas contact AXA PRIOR to departure, as some medications that are legal in this country are not legal in other countries or may not be available. Additionally, students who need prescriptions refilled while abroad will need to start that process by contacting AXA and opening up a case. Part of the refill process includes having this form completed by their regular physician.  AXA will help with these issues, but the process will take 5-10 business days, which is why student should start this before departure.

Political Security & Natural Disaster Evacuation Services

In the event of a natural or political disaster in the students host country, all participants covered by UK's insurance are eligible for evacuation service for the covered event. Other UK students may be eligible for evacuation coverage provided by their partner program. The evacuation service will coordinate and pay to evacuate the student to the nearest place of safety, or to the U.S. If the student has a security concern or requires evacuation, the student should seek shelter as soon as possible and call AXA Assistance at 1-312-935-3542. Then, the student should call the UK Police Department at 1-859-257-8573. The UK Police Department will relay the information to the appropriate authorities on campus.


Leaving in Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Summer I or II, 2017

UKIC may grant waivers to the Travel Medical Insurance/On Call requirement in cases when participants have existing coverage that meets the minimum standards of the University or are participating in external programs that offer uniform coverage that meets the minimum standards of the University. No exceptions are granted to participants of international group travel experiences.

The minimum coverage requirements are as follows:

  • $200,000 Benefit for Injury or Sickness
  • $50,000 Benefit for Medical Evacuations
  • $20,000 Benefit for Repatriation of Remains
  • $7,500 Benefit for Accidental Death and Dismemberment
  • Evacuation benefits in case of political/natural disaster

If travel medical insurance is provided by a personal insurance carrier, it must meet UK's minimum coverage requirements in all five categories. If the participant has verified that the personal insurance carrier meets all five minimum coverage requirements, the participant may then submit a Travel Medical Insurance Verification Formto UK Education Abroad for review.

Some UK Partner, UK Consortia and UK Exchange programs include travel medical insurance coverage that meets the minimum standards. The following program providers have been pre-approved and therefore, participants on these programs will not be enrolled in the Travel Medical Insurance/On Call coverage via UK unless the student wishes to extend their insurance coverage beyond the program’s start and end dates:

  • Academic Programs International (API)
  • American Councils
  • Arcadia University
  • Barcelona SAE
  • Cooperative Center for Study Abroad (CCSA)
  • Cultural Experiences Abroad (CEA)
  • Global Semesters
  • IES Abroad
  • Institute for Study Abroad at Butler University (IFSA-Butler)
  • International Studies Abroad (ISA)
  • International Student Exchange Program (ISEP)
  • Knowledge Exchange Institute (KEI)
  • Kentucky Institute for International Studies (KIIS)
  • SIT Study Abroad(Beginning Spring 2017)
  • SOL Education Abroad (SOL)
  • School for Russian and Asian Studies (SRAS)
  • The Education Abroad Network (TEAN) - TEAN programs in Australia and New Zealand are NOT exempt from purchasing UKEA travel medical insurance
  • University of MN (UMSID)

Trip Insurance

In the past, some participants have chosen to purchase trip cancellation insurance. Please note that if the student will be departing on or after August 1, 2015, such insurance is included in the student's plan. Additionally, those students who are traveling more than the 14 total cover days outside of their program dates are encouraged to purchase additional travel insurance as most US health insurance policies do not provide adequate coverage when abroad. Here are a few helpful resources regarding such coverage to help the student get started, though none are endorsed or sponsored by UK:

Personal Property Insurance

Haylor, Freyer & Coon, Inc. offers affordable personal property insurance coverage during an Education Abroad program. Personal property includes the students cell phone, computer, books, musical instrument, clothes, etc. Please visit the "Personal Property" link on their website for further information.


Malpractice Coverage

Students, faculty, staff, or non-University individuals, who provide patient care in clinical international programs sponsored by the University of Kentucky, whether credit-bearing or non-credit bearing, shall also provide evidence of malpractice insurance that meets or exceeds the University coverage.

To find out if the student is required to have coverage click here.

The coverage afforded under the UK Plan does not extend to medical services provided abroad. The UK Plan was established pursuant to Kentucky Revised Statutes 164.939 through 164.944. The UK Plan is composed of a self-insured Basic Compensation Fund plus excess coverage provided by a commercial carrier. Neither the Basic Compensation Fund, nor the commercial excess policy provides coverage for international activities.

The UK Healthcare Department of Risk Management has identified one potential source for acceptable coverage. The international traveler is not limited to this source, but it has been approved as providing acceptable coverage.

International Helpers (Guernsey) Trust has been operating since June of 2006 and provides benefits via Lloyds of London, who issues a policy to the International Helpers (Guernsey) Trust. The participant then becomes a beneficiary to the trust. The cost of coverage ranges from $4.70/day to $9.50/day depending on the level or class of care provided. This is a claims made policy with coverage up to $500,000.00 any one claim per practitioner, $10,000,000.00 aggregate. There is a $5000.00 deductible per claim. Enrollment in the trust is easily accomplished on-line. The participant will log onto the website and with a dedicated user name and password, fill out basic information and submit for participation. Payment is online via credit card.


Click first link "Participate"
User name: UKHealthcare
Password: Lexington

If the student has questions regarding coverage through International Helpers (Guernsey) Trust, please contact Gallagher Charitable International Insurance Services at (803) 758-1400, or

If the student has questions regarding their coverage options, please contact the UK Hospital Risk Management Office at 859-257-6212 or Alison Salyer at