There is much to work through regarding the implications and impact of COVID-19 on the education sector. A long-standing feature of schools, colleges and universities has been the enriching and positive impact that study and trips abroad can have in ensuring a well-rounded education.
Travel Risk management

For larger institutions overseas has also been a gateway to additional areas of research and funding.

The global nature of the UK Higher Education sector has in a sense been accepted as the default setting. This may now need reconsideration. It is clear that travel and any subsequent educational visits or travel abroad will have to be conducted more carefully and with greater confidence in both the proactive and reactive measures institutions deploy.

Insurance has a role to play here as it is the methodology by which most education institutions access the medical and security support required when overseas. Examples we have seen in recent years include evacuating students from a military coup in Burkina Faso, accessing support to student trapped in hurricanes in the Caribbean and staff and students injured in the Nepalese earthquakes.

The issue that is posed now is two-fold. Firstly what should educational bodies be doing proactively to manage travel risk and secondly how can they determine that they have appropriate partners providing the reactive support.

We have seen that robust Health & Safety practice around relevant and practical risk assessment processes has come to the fore. The issue arising from COVID-19 is whether the information institutions have at their fingertips is relevant and up to date. The economic impact of the pandemic will destabilise many territories, popular with research and study in to more unpredictable risk categories. Crime and lawlessness will likely increase.

The duty of care on institutions means that the risk assessments completed should be of a sufficient quality on which informed decision around the trip and any mitigation measures should be taken. Ensuring this quality will support reduced likelihood and severity of any claims.

On the second issue on ensuring the quality of providers, we have seen an increased focus through insurance procurement exercises on this. Such a focus is best ensured through separating the Travel insurance from other tender exercises. It allows questions and examination of providers where we expect to see specific case studies and examples of good quality support across a range of scenarios from bidders. Use of IT is also a critical evaluation topic as the use of supporting apps is wide spread.

The evaluation criteria should also be bespoke to the institution in question and their own requirements around cost, cover and valued added services.

Whilst there is a pause in educational travel, there is an opportunity to review internal Travel Risk Management standards and procedures and whether these need reconsideration. We recognise that often there is no dedicated budget on Travel Risk Management but the impact to an institution’s reputational, legal and financial standing is such that this issue, and how it is managed internally, does require consideration at the highest level.

This note is not intended to give legal or financial advice, and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon for such. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and/or market practice in this area. In preparing this note we have relied on information sourced from third parties and we make no claims as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained herein. It reflects our understanding as at 23.07.2020, but you will recognise that matters concerning COVID-19 are fast changing across the world. You should not act upon information in this bulletin nor determine not to act, without first seeking specific legal and/or specialist advice. Our advice to our clients is as an insurance broker and is provided subject to specific terms and conditions, the terms of which take precedence over any representations in this document. No third party to whom this is passed can rely on it. We and our officers, employees or agents shall not be responsible for any loss whatsoever arising from the recipient’s reliance upon any information we provide herein and exclude liability for the content to fullest extent permitted by law. Should you require advice about your specific insurance arrangements or specific claim circumstances, please get in touch with your usual contact at Gallagher.