International Travel Assistance - Travel Guide for Principal Investigators

International travel for research and training has become an increasingly common activity of sponsored programs.

To support this important activity, the Board of Directors of the Research Foundation (RF) authorized the RF to provide blanket international travel assistance coverage, as well as emergency health insurance benefits, for all persons (other than independent contractors) traveling overseas on official Research Foundation business.

In addition to the RF programs described below, helpful tools relating to international activities are available from the NACUBO International Resource Center.

Overview of Programs:

[Note: Effective January 1, 2012, GeoBlue (formerly HTH Worldwide) replaced CIGNA and FrontierMedex replaced International SOS.]


The Research Foundation contracts with FrontierMEDEX to administer Worldwide Emergency Assistance Services, including Global Security Services. Travel assistance benefits include a 24-hour/day-365 day/year call center where a traveler can obtain and has access to numerous services.

GeoBlue Traveler (GBT) 
Provides upfront payment guarantees to hospitals and physicians worldwide for non-routine medical care for SUNY or RF employees and their eligible dependents traveling on RF business for periods of fewer than 180 consecutive days.

GBT also provides direct payments and guarantees of payments to physicians, laboratories, clinics, and urgent care centers, and provides recommendations to facilities of all types.

As a traveler, you should secure or maintain your comprehensive coverage for you and your dependents before traveling overseas, since the GBT plan is designed as a supplement and not a stand-alone plan.

GeoBlue Expatriate (GBE)
Provides upfront payment guarantees to hospitals and physicians worldwide, and covers RF employee expatriates who are outside the U.S. for more than 180 consecutive days.

This is a comprehensive medical plan complete with routine medical coverage for RF employee expatriates and their dependents (even if their dependents are in a different country). Most services are covered at 90%.

This plan, if you elect it, would replace your current RF health plan coverage. Once you return, you can go back to your previous RF coverage without a waiting period. Contact your campus benefits office if you want to enroll in the GBT plan.

Eligibility for Coverage
In general, the FrontierMEDEX travel assistance and GeoBlue Traveler programs are available to virtually anyone (other than independent contractors) traveling outside the home country on official Research Foundation of SUNY business. The spouse and dependent children are also covered when accompanying the person working on Foundation business. 

The GeoBlue Expatriate program is only available to RF employees working a minimum of 30 hours per week on RF business assignments overseas for 180 or more consecutive days per year, and their eligible dependents. The spouse and dependent children are covered regardless of whether they travel with the employee.

The GBE program can be used as an alternative to the RF Regular Employee Health Plan. Once enrolled, GBE participants can discontinue their RF health coverage. They can then resume their RF health coverage upon their return without incurring another waiting period.

Other restrictions apply. Please review the materials for each program for more information.


Cost of Coverage
The RF pays the full cost for the FrontierMEDEX and GeoBlue coverages.


SUNY Benefits for Employees and Students
SUNY also provides international travel and health benefits for their faculty, staff and students who are traveling on SUNY programs.

Participants are enrolled by the campus at which they work or study; an insurance premium is required. Please contact the SUNY international benefit administrator at your location for more information.

You may also refer to the following charts which summarize and compare the RF and SUNY international program benefits and eligibility:


What You Should Obtain Before Traveling
Those traveling internationally on official Research Foundation business should obtain the following information and documents.

  • security information for your country of travel (available when you log in to the FrontierMEDEX website – see below under “Member Information”)
  • the brochure GeoBlue Traveler (login required), which describes medical, personal, and travel assistance services. This brochure also includes information on FrontierMEDEX services.  In an emergency, travelers should call GeoBlue first. Then, if necessary the call will be routed to FrontierMEDEX.
  • the Member ID Card, which can be downloaded from the GeoBlue website ( once you register. The ID card identifies the Research Foundation of SUNY as the Subscriber Group. Individual travelers are not identified. The ID number also appears on the brochure.

Note: If you are an RF Employee and you enroll for the GBE coverage, you will receive the GBE Booklet, your personalized ID card, and other information directly from GeoBlue.


Member Information

FrontierMEDEX provides a Member Center on their Web site at . Click Member Center and enter the membership number found in the FrontierMEDEX section of the GeoBlue Traveler brochure (login required). The website also provides alerts, travel guides, phone numbers, and other valuable information.

The GeoBlue website ( is the same for the both the GBT and GBE programs. It allows users to download and print an ID card, review plan benefits, and find qualified healthcare providers.  You will need the GeoBlue membership number, found in the GeoBlue section of the GeoBlue Traveler brochure (login required).  GeoBlue also offers a mobile app for iphone users.

Travelers are encouraged to register at BOTH SITES.

RF benefits-eligible employees can review the International Travel Q&A for answers to common questions regarding the application of their benefits while traveling overseas.