Many university alumni associations sponsor trips for their alumni members – for the purpose of staying in touch after graduation, networking, etc.
Some trips have a special purpose. For example, some alumni travel as a group to volunteer, to learn, to gain a new skill, or to learn a new language.
Of course, many alumni trips are simply about connecting and having fun.
8 Risks Common to Alumni Travel
Any arranged trip (like an alumni trip) comes with the rewards and risks typical of any type of travel, and traveling alumni should research and buy their travel insurance before they go.
The following are the risks specific to many alumni trips:
- You might have to cancel the trip. If a friend or family member gets sick, or a pet dies, or your house is destroyed by a hurricane, will you lose all your prepaid trip expenses?
- Your flight could be delayed or cancelled. If you miss your alumni cruise departure due to a cancelled or delayed flight, the airline isn’t going to be sympathetic or helpful.
- You’re suddenly very concerned about the potential for a terrorist attack on your trip. Can you cancel your trip without losing all the money you’ve already spent?
- A hurricane destroys the destination where your alumni gathering was to be held. Will you be able to make alternative arrangements and get a refund for the money you will lose?
- Your wife is severely ill with food poisoning and you have to get her to a local doctor – and fast. Will you be able to find a suitable medical facility nearby? If not, can you get her evacuated to where she can receive treatment? How will you pay for that treatment?
- Your house is robbed just days before you’re to leave and your passport is stolen. Will you lose your overseas trip costs because you can’t get a replacement passport in time?
- You get on a flight to Rome for a month of Italian-language practice, but your bags are mysteriously routed to Russia instead. Will you have plenty of cash to replace necessary items until your bags can find you again?
- You meet your fellow alumni at the door of a tour group in Greece, but the door is closed and locked – gone out of business due to economic conditions. Will you be able to recover the money you spent?
In each of the cases above, the right travel insurance plan would save the traveler time, frustration, and money. Plus, you’ll have an emergency assistance services team on hand to help you recover nonrefundable expenses, find local medical care, arrange for an evacuation, and help you with translations.
Don’t alumni trips include travel insurance?
Some do and some don’t.
While many alumni associations do offer travel insurance with their trip packages, but most of those plans are one-size-fits-all plans that may exclude a particular traveler for a number of reasons, including:
- pre-existing medical condition
- participation in a ‘hazardous’ activity
- cancellation reason that’s not covered
Of course, the traveler won’t know they’re excluded from the coverage unless they read the policy details or find out the hard way (as in, after a claim is filed and it’s too late to do anything about it).
In many cases, the alumni association will suggest a particular travel insurance company with which they have a relationship, but they still place the burden of researching and understanding what coverage is necessary on the traveler. If you’re going to do all that work anyway, you might as well get the best price for your coverage, don’t you agree?
5 Steps to Prepare for your next Alumni Trip
See the following steps to prepare for your next alumni trip:
- Find out if the alumni trip includes travel insurance. If it does, get a copy of the plan document and read it carefully. Got questions? Contact the insurance provider and ask them. If the coverage won’t work for your needs, you’ll want to know that before you get in a tight spot.
- Understand the health and safety risks for your trip. For example, you may have to fight malaria on a trip to South Africa, but your primary risk in Egypt could be terrorism. See the U.S. State Department’s country-specific travel safety information for your destination to understand the health and safety risks before you go.
- Determine how much travel medical and evacuation is enough you need for this trip. The cost of emergency medical care and transportation is determined by a limited set of factors, but with a little information you can determine how much you’ll need to be safe where you’re going.
- Decide whether you need trip cancellation coverage. Most travelers don’t plan a trip thinking that they’ll have to cancel, but all kinds of disastrous events can force you to change your mind – or worse, to abandon your trip to handle an emergency. See the covered reasons for trip cancellation and trip interruption and determine whether you want 100% reimburses for your prepaid nonrefundable trip costs should you have to cancel your trip.
- Buy adequate travel insurance. Many tour operators are starting to require their guests to have travel insurance, but most don’t have the skill or knowledge to help a traveler choose the right plan. This is because every traveler and every trip is unique. See our Travel Insurance 101 to better understand how to choose a plan for your trip, then use our tool to compare quotes from many travel insurance companies.
Even if your alumni trip comes with a standard trip insurance plan, the alumni association won’t be the ones to pay for your costs if you get into trouble and your alumni friends shouldn’t have to either.