Columbia University

Global Travel

Health Insurance

All travelers, even for short trips, need to assess their coverage with their insurer prior to travel and determine if they will need to obtain additional coverage for their destination.


If traveling internationally for school-related purposes (study abroad, research at a Global Center, etc.) the health insurance policy must also provide coverage outside the U.S. for routine, urgent, and emergent care.

Students at the Morningside campus, visit the Columbia Health page on the Columbia Insurance Plan and students at CUMC, visit the Student Health Services page on Navigating Aetna to learn more about coverage.

Faculty and Employees

Columbia University has secured an insurance policy with Cigna, called Medical Benefits Abroad (MBA) that covers unexpected injuries and illness that may occur while traveling on international business (with duration of six months or less).  Cigna MBA provides full coverage for medically necessary services without deductibles, coinsurance or copays.  This plan also includes emergency dental coverage up to a $1,000 limit. Preventive or routine care is not covered by this policy.

No enrollment is required to use this medical coverage. Access will be automatic when contacting ISOS, our international safety and security provider.

Who is Covered?

  • Columbia University faculty and staff will be covered for the duration of the business trip and any personal travel which occurs in the middle of the business trip. Please note that students are not covered under the Cigna MBA plan.
  • Personal travel at the beginning or end of a business trip will be covered only up to a total of 7 days.
  • Spouses, Same Sex Domestic Partners and dependent children up to age 26 who are approved to accompany a University employee on the international business trip will be covered under this policy. If they are not traveling on the same itinerary, their coverage will begin when they are united with the University employee. 

How to Use the Coverage

In the event of an injury or illness while traveling abroad on behalf of the University, resources are available to assist with the coordination of care:

  1. The traveler should contact ISOS so that their representative can provide help on such needs as medical assistance or evacuation. Access to the Cigna medical coverage will be automatic through ISOS contact.
  2. The ISOS representative has access to the policy information and knows the details of the plan. The ISOS representative will provide the traveler with Cigna network medical providers in the area to contact regarding the injury or illness.
  3. When the traveler sees a Cigna network provider while abroad, they will not need to submit claim forms.  ISOS and Cigna will work together to file and pay the claim on your behalf.
  4. In the event the traveler pays a provider directly for services, reimbursement for the expense may be obtained directly from Cigna, the quickest way is through their Cigna Envoy Portal, (click here for a description and instructions). For additional information please refer to the page on how to Submit Health Insurance Claims.

Going Abroad Longer Than 6 months?

Columbia University benefits (such as health insurance and retirement plans) generally continue for Columbia employees who are assigned overseas, and who continue to be paid through the U.S. payroll. Employees who are assigned overseas for six month or longer may be eligible to enroll in the Cigna International Medical Plan, which provides comprehensive health coverage overseas and in the U.S.

For additional details, please refer to the Policy on Faculty and Staff Working Overseas.

For employee's medical benefit questions, please contact the Benefits Service Center at or 212-851-7000.

If you have any other questions, please email us at