Trips to foreign locations can be exciting and rewarding for churches, but also can pose some serious risks. It is never fun to think about the possible dangers when you cross over borders but it’s as important to consider the risks and evaluate your insurance coverage for those trips as you would for any local event.
Foreign Mission Trip Travel – Are You Covered?
Did You Know?
- A typical church insurance policy does not cover liability suits brought against you in a foreign country.
- Many health insurance plans exclude services provided outside the U.S. Those that pay for customary and reasonable hospital costs abroad may not pay for your medical evacuation back to the United States, which can cost thousands depending on your location and medical condition.
There are numerous foreign travel policies offered individually or via sponsoring organizations but we’ve found that almost none of those include any liability protection for the church. You would not likely consider going to the local park for a church event without liability protection. Are you willing to travel overseas without it?
- Develop Guidelines – Make sure all travelers and their families are aware of the trip rules.
- Establish any applicable requirements such as for age, health and experience.
- Conduct background checks on traveling adults, especially if a portion of the trip involves work with minors or traveling with minors.
- Explain all the known risks to participants and parents of minors. Legally document each participant’s assumption of risk release form. A photo use agreement release can be combined with this document or included separately.
- See your doctor at least six weeks before you leave. Some vaccines don’t reach the highest protection until about six weeks after you get the shots.
- Expect medical emergencies. When possible, recruit someone with medical training to serve as a team member and before you arrive at the mission site, know the location of the nearest hospital or medical facility. Establish an emergency plan in advance, including how you’d transport an injured traveler.
- Designate a contact person, not on the trip, who will communicate between the church, the travelers and their family members.
- Collect important documents. The team leader needs to have a “master folder” that contains vital paperwork and information. In addition, each traveler leave copies at home of his or her passport, credit cards, driver’s license, vaccination certificate, airline tickets and travelers checks.
- Heed The Warnings – Take any travel warnings seriously. Due to changing political environments, there may be parts of the world that are currently too dangerous for your ministry.
- Obtain Insurance – as discussed above.
As you serve others, be sure that you protect against the many financial and personal risks with these operations outside our nation’s borders. Contact us if you have any questions and we’ll do our best to help guide you in the selection of this coverage.
Matthew 28: 18-20