Should I Purchase Additional Travel Insurance?

If you’re thinking of heading outside BC or Canada for leisure or work, you may be wondering if your existing travel insurance will cover you and your family in the event of a medical emergency. In other words, do you need to purchase additional insurance?

How you answer this question will depend on your situation. And while we can’t make this decision for you, we can provide you with information on what your insurance covers (and what it does not cover). Knowing the facts can help you make an informed decision on whether you might need additional insurance.

To help you make the decision that’s best for you, take a look at the questions and answers below:

1. What is my UBC coverage while travelling?

The BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) will cover physician and hospital services in the event of a medical emergency only. MSP will only pay up to the BC rate for these services.

The coverage provided by the UBC Extended Health Plan supplements any costs not covered by the MSP for your emergency physician and hospital services. You may be reimbursed up to 100% of the total cost, provided you have not exhausted your lifetime maximum.

The Extended Health Plan will also pay for medical expenses you would normally be covered for and reimburse you as if the expenses were incurred in BC. For example, if you submit a claim for a prescription drug you purchased outside the country, you will be reimbursed for what the cost would have been in BC. The exception is ambulance services, which are covered at 100% (if you have not exhausted your maximum).

Your dependent family members are also covered if they are enrolled in the UBC Extended Health Plan.

2. What is the maximum amount I can claim?

The lifetime maximum that each person enrolled in the UBC Extended Health Plan can be reimbursed for is $2 million. This amount is reduced each time you make an Extended Health claim. Your dependents also have a lifetime maximum coverage of $2 million.

To find out your current Extended Health balance (or that of your dependents), call Sun Life at 1-800-361-6212.

3. Am I covered by other plans?

You may also have coverage outside BC or Canada through your spouse’s plan or a credit card.

If you are covered under a spouse’s plan, you may have access to additional coverage while travelling. Ask your spouse to confirm the details of their plan.

Your credit card may also provide coverage in the event of a medical emergency. You can confirm coverage by calling your credit card company. 

4. What if I have a pre-existing medical condition or I am pregnant?

The UBC Extended Health Plan does not have a pre-existing conditions clause. This means that as long as your condition is stable before your departure and your doctor has given you permission to travel, you will be covered. It is strongly recommended you obtain a letter from your doctor clearing travel or request a note to your file prior to travel.

If you (or your dependent) is pregnant, you are covered up to and including the 36th week of pregnancy. After the 36th week, you will not be covered for any pregnancy or childbirth-related expenses.

If you give birth prematurely up to and including your 36th week of pregnancy, medical expenses for the birth mother and newborn are covered.

Regular prenatal checkups (outside of BC) while you are pregnant are not covered, even if received before your 36th week of pregnancy. You are also not covered if you travel to another province or country with the intention to give birth there. 

5. What are the exclusions and limitations?

The UBC Extended Health Plan has the following exclusions and limitations:

  • You are covered for 365 days from the date you leave BC. Hospital coverage is limited to 90 days, although this period may be extended if it is dangerous to transport you back home.
  • You are not covered if Sun Life determines (based on medical information) that you can be transported back to BC for medical attention and you choose not to return home.
  • You are not covered for non-emergency physician and hospital services.
  • You are not covered for illness or injury resulting from the hostile action of any armed forces (military or police), insurrection, riot, civil commotion or terrorist activity that you participated in.
  • You are not covered for any trip delays, cancellations or lost luggage.
  • Your emergency travel assistance services through Allianz Global Assistance, Sun Life’s travel benefits provider, may be suspended, curtailed or limited in some countries due to conditions such as war, political unrest, epidemics and geographical inaccessibility. For an up-to-date list of countries where travel assistance services may not be available, please contact Allianz Global Assistance (1-800-511-4610) before leaving on your trip.

Participation in extreme sports is not an exclusion.

For a complete list of exclusions and limitations under the Extended Health Plan and other UBC benefits, click here. 


If you are comfortable with the level of coverage provided by the UBC Extended Health Plan, then you may not need to purchase additional insurance.

However, if your Extended Health balance is low, you have a pre-existing condition, you are pregnant, or your tolerance for risk is low, you may want to purchase additional insurance for added protection and peace of mind.

Attend our travel benefits information session

Join us for an informative session to learn more about travel benefits outside BC and Canada. Registration is required. 

Vancouver Campus, with videoconferencing in the Diamond Health Care Centre

Date: Tuesday, June 20, 2017 Time:  12:00-1:00 p.m. 


Life Sciences Centre, 2350 Health Sciences Mall, Room 1002 (map)

Registration required 

Diamond Health Care Centre (videoconference)

Diamond Health Care Centre, 2775 Laurel Street, (RHS) Room 2263

Registration required

Health Benefits Coverage for Students during the Summer Months

Your child has packed up their books for the summer and will be returning to their post-secondary studies in the fall. Whatever they do this summer, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that they’re still covered under your UBC health benefits plan.

If you have a dependent child between the ages of 19 and 25 who is a full-time student, they may continue to be eligible for coverage under your UBC Medical Services Plan (MSP), Extended Health and Dental plans and Employee and Family Assistance Program during the summer months if they will be returning to school in the fall.

If your child has graduated or does not plan on returning to school, their coverage will end on the last day of the month in which they complete their studies. You must provide us with this date on the Student Health Benefits Dependent Confirmation form you are required to submit each year.

If this date changes (for example, if your child reduces their course load and is no longer a full-time student, graduates earlier than originally indicated, or changes their plans and will not return to school), you are responsible for informing Payroll that your child is no longer eligible for coverage under your benefits plan. Your child’s coverage will be cancelled.

Coverage for full-time students will end on the last day of the month in which they turn 25.

If you have any questions about your child’s student status, please contact Payroll:

Vancouver Campus

Surnames A – G

Marissa Manlig

T: 604-827-3212 / E:

Surnames H – O

Katerina Marta

T: 604-827-1738 / E:

Surnames P – Z

Pravin Khan

T: 604-822-8701 / E:

Okanagan Campus

Paula Lambert

T: 250-807-8625 / E:

Health Coverage for Post-Secondary Students Studying outside of BC

Whether your child is attending university in Ottawa or Oxford, they are covered by your UBC health benefits plan. Here’s what you need to know.

Coverage outside Canada

If you have a dependent child between the ages of 19 and 25 who is studying outside of Canada, they may continue to be covered under your UBC Medical Services Plan (MSP), Extended Health and Dental plans and Employee and Family Assistance Program.

While your dependent child is studying abroad, it’s important that they remain enrolled in MSP. MSP is mandatory for all BC residents, including those who are temporarily outside of BC for the purposes of study.

If your dependent is enrolled in MSP through UBC, you can verify their coverage by viewing your benefit enrolments in the UBC Faculty and Staff Self-Service portal. 

Physician visits and hospital services that are normally covered by MSP in BC will only be covered outside of Canada in the event of an emergency. There is no coverage for routine physician visits as these are not considered a medical emergency. Reimbursement for emergency physician visits and hospital services is 100%, up to the overall lifetime UBC Extended Health maximum of $2 million per person.

Sun Life’s travel benefits provider, Allianz Global Assistance, will co-ordinate claims with MSP. This means that you only need to submit one claim form to Sun Life. 

Your dependent child will receive coverage for services and supplies that are normally covered under the UBC Extended Health and Dental plans while they are studying outside of Canada, subject to the terms and conditions of the plan.

The only exception is that the services of paramedical practitioners are not covered outside North America.

Services and supplies will be reimbursed at the reasonable and customary rates for the same services and supplies in British Columbia.

You should notify both MSP and Sun Life of your child’s plans to study abroad, before they leave.

  • MSP: 604-683-7151 (Lower Mainland) or 1-800-663-7100 elsewhere in BC
  • Sun Life: 1-800-661-7334 or 1-800-361-6212 or by secure messaging via

Coverage in Canada, outside British Columbia

If your child is studying in Canada outside of BC, they will continue to be covered by your benefits plan.

Ensure that your dependent child remains enrolled in BC MSP. MSP will continue to cover medically necessary services, such as physician visits and hospital services. Your dependent should present their BC CareCard/Services Card as proof of coverage. The exception to this is in Quebec, where your child will be required to pay first and seek reimbursement later from MSP.

If your dependent is enrolled in MSP through UBC, you can verify their coverage by viewing your benefit enrolments in the UBC Faculty and Staff Self-Service portal.

Services and supplies that are normally covered under the UBC Extended Health and Dental plans continue to be covered in all provinces, subject to the terms and conditions of the plan.

Services and supplies will be reimbursed at the reasonable and customary rates for the same services and supplies in BC.

There is no requirement to inform MSP or Sun Life of your child’s plan to study in another province.


If you have any questions, please contact Stephanie Mah, Benefits Specialist, at 604-822-6823 or

Free Campus Health Screenings Make a Positive Impact

Each February, staff and faculty in Vancouver and the Okanagan can receive free health assessments – a convenient, on-site and low-barrier opportunity to receive a health checkup. The health screenings this year were once again very successful and well attended.

Diabetes screenings at the Travelling Health Fair in Vancouver

With the help of the UBC Pharmacists Clinic and pharmacy student volunteers, diabetes assessments were provided to close to 200 staff and faculty at Point Grey and Vancouver General Hospital.


  • learned about blood sugars and diabetes, including risk factors;
  • had their weight, waist, blood pressure and blood sugar measurements taken;
  • took a personalized risk assessment and had their results interpreted; and
  • received an individualized action plan for preventing or reducing diabetes risk.

Thirteen percent of participants discovered that they were pre-diabetic or at risk for pre-diabetes during the screening process. The screenings also prompted 44% of participants to seek follow-up care with another health care professional.

Just over half of the participants shared that they would not have otherwise received these tests from a family doctor, confirming that this initiative is successful at filling a gap that exists related to diabetes testing and treatment.

Next year, our Travelling Health Fair – in partnership with the UBC Pharmacists Clinic – will bring heart health assessments to you. Stay tuned for more details!

Healthy measures assessments in the Okanagan

Seventy-seven staff and faculty participated in this year’s Healthy Measures Assessment at UBC Okanagan. Participants were eligible to receive biometric testing of blood pressure, glucose levels, cholesterol levels and body mass index, as well as functional testing with a chiropractor, fitness testing (which included strength, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness) and nutritional advice.

In a survey conducted after the screening, an overwhelming 90% of the participants indicated that they would participate in the Healthy Measures Assessment again.

Are You Looking for a Paramedical Provider?

If you’re looking for a paramedical provider, there’s an app for that!

Sun Life’s mobile app’s Provider Search feature is a useful tool to help you find a professional who meets your needs. You can use Provider Search to find an acupuncturist, chiropodist, chiropractor, massage therapist, naturopath, osteopath, physiotherapist, podiatrist or psychologist.

Provider Search allows you to:

  • View the provider’s rating from other Sun Life members.
  • Locate providers who bill Sun Life directly (so that you do not have to pay first and submit a claim for reimbursement).
  • Call the provider directly to make an appointment.
  • Add the provider to your contacts.
  • Get directions to the clinic by launching your phone’s maps app.

Download Sun Life’s mobile app and click on Provider Search to get started.

The Provider Search feature is also available from your desktop computer at

Retiring Soon? Here’s What You Need to Know

The end of a school semester and start of summer is a popular time for faculty and staff to consider retiring. This is a big decision and there are many factors to consider.

We have compiled a list of steps to take once you have decided to retire, and we’ve included some of the resources you have access to as a retiring or retired faculty or staff member – from enrolling in our group retirement health benefits program to taking advantage of discounted rates at the Aquatic Centre and ongoing access to UBC’s libraries.

Steps to retiring

  1. Let your Department Head (faculty) or manager (staff) know the date on which you will retire well in advance.
  2. Contact the Pensions Office at 604-822-8100 to set up an appointment to go over your options and sign any required paperwork.
  3. Decide if you will be joining UBC’s optional Retirement & Survivor Benefits Program. This program offers extended health care, dental and Employee & Family Assistance program coverage. You may also decide to enrol in your spouse’s or common-law partner’s plan – or one through a previous employer – to continue your extended health and/or dental coverage.

Learn more about your pension

It’s never too early – or late – to learn about your pension. The following resources and information sessions are great places to start.

Visit the UBC Pensions website

Visit the UBC Pensions website to learn about your pension options when you retire.

Attend an upcoming pension plan presentation or information fair

UBC Pensions offers workshops and seminars to help you understand the Staff Pension Plan and Faculty Pension Plan.

Vancouver Campus 

Understanding Your Staff Pension Plan

  • Date: Tuesday, May 30, 2017
  • Time: 1:30-3:30 p.m.
  • This session is currently full. If you would like to be added to the wait list, please email to let us know (include your employee ID and the name of the workshop in your email).

Staff Pension Plan Fair

Whether you are brand new to UBC or have been a staff member for many years, the Pension Fair is a great opportunity to learn more about your pension plan and increase your pension knowledge. Stop by the information tables to learn about the Plan and other retirement benefits and services. The Staff Pension Plan Board, management and staff look forward to meeting you and answering your questions.

Off-campus members will be reimbursed for parking (maximum two hours) or bus expenses (with fare receipt). Light refreshments will be provided.

  • Date: Wednesday, June 21, 2017
  • Time: 11:30 a.m.-1:15 p.m
  • Location: Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre, 6163 University Boulevard [map]
  • Registration is not required
  • Click here for more event details.

Faculty Pension Plan: Understanding Your Retirement Income Options

  • Date: Thursday, June 1, 2017
  • Time: 12:00-2:30 p.m.
  • Location: Pension Administration Office, 201 – 2389 Health Sciences Mall [map]
  • Register Now
  • Download Presentation Documentation
  • Designed for members approaching retirement, this helpful seminar explains the various options available to you.

Faculty Pension Plan 101

Okanagan Campus 

Understanding Your Staff Pension Plan

Faculty Pension Plan: Understanding Your Retirement Options

  • Planned for Spring 2018

Faculty Pension Plan 101

  • TBA

Review your coverage under the Retirement & Survivor Benefits Program

When you retire, you are no longer eligible for the same benefits that were available to you as a UBC employee. However, if you are 55 or older when you retire, you can choose to sign up for the UBC Retirement and Survivor Benefits (RSB) Program, which offers three plans: Extended Health, Dental, and the Employee and Family Assistance Program.

The coverage is not the same as that offered to current UBC employees and you are responsible for paying the monthly premiums. If you’d like to enrol in the program, you must do so within 31 days of retiring. You cannot apply after this 31-day period.

To decide if this optional program is right for you, take a look at the information on our website.

If you have any further questions, please contact Janet McHugh, Retirement Benefits Administrator, at 604-822-4580 or

Take a retirement planning course

UBC Continuing Studies offers retirement planning courses that cover topics including health and wellbeing, lifestyle planning, financial management, and wills and estate planning.

For more information, visit the UBC Continuing Studies Life and Career Courses page. Current staff employees can use their tuition waivers towards Continuing Studies courses.

Perks and benefits for retired UBC employees

As a retired UBC employee, you can take advantage of library access and discounted aquatic centre and parking rates.

Library access

Retired faculty and staff may continue to use their UBCcard to borrow materials and access library resources and services.

Aquatic Centre discounted rate

  • 25 Year Club members: If you are a member of the 25 Year Club, a four-month pass to the UBC Aquatic Centre is just $70, or $2.75 per admission. (These rates are subject to change, so please check with the Aquatic Centre directly.) 
  • Other retirees: If you are not a member of the 25 Year Club, and are over age 55, you are eligible for senior rates. Contact the UBC Aquatic Centre at 604-822-4522.

Complimentary or reduced-rate parking

Retired employees can take advantage of complimentary or reduced rate parking:

  • Professors emeriti: Emeriti faculty are eligible for complimentary parking permits, which offer the same parking privileges as those granted to active faculty and staff. To obtain your parking permit, apply in person at the Parking Office – bring your letter from Faculty Relations with you. 
  • 25 Year Club members: To find out about eligibility criteria and to obtain the application form for complimentary parking for 25 Year Club members, please visit our Guidelines page.
  • Other retirees: If you are not a member of the 25 Year Club and are retired from the University, you may obtain an Associate Decal from the Parking Office. This decal enables you to park in campus parkades at a reduced rate of $8.00 a day, taxes included. You may also purchase prepaid coupons to use with your Associate Decal.

When applying for parking permits, you must bring with you:

  • Vehicle insurance papers
  • Your valid driver’s licencePlease note that all outstanding parking tickets must be paid before a permit will be issued. Questions regarding retiree permits may be directed to Parking Services at 604-822-6786.

Other retirement resources for Faculty members

Please visit the Faculty Relations website for more details.

Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines

Many people choose to drink alcohol, but it is good to know the short- and long-term risks associated with alcohol consumption.

Average long-term alcohol use and excessive alcohol intake increases the risk of developing some conditions, including certain types of cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, liver cirrhosis and alcoholism. Read more about the risk factors from the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse.

Excessive and long-term drinking also impacts many of the body’s essential organs and the immune system. Alcohol interferes with the brain and can cause changes in mood and behaviour. Read more on alcohol’s effects on the body from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines

The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse has developed Low-risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines for adults aged 25-65 who choose to drink alcohol. The guidelines are meant to set limits, not targets. They are not intended to encourage drinking or to encourage people to start drinking to achieve health benefits.

If you are of low body weight, not accustomed to alcohol or on certain medications, you should consume less than maximum limits, or in certain situations, refrain from drinking alcohol.

Canada’s Low-risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines suggest:

  • For women
    • Zero to two standard drinks per day and no more than 10 standard drinks per week
    • No more than three drinks on any single occasion
  • For men
    • Zero to three standard drinks per day and no more than 15 standard drinks per week
    • No more than four drinks on any single occasion

Depending on personal habits, some may think these guidelines are high and some may think they are low. Low-risk drinking helps to promote a culture of moderation and support a healthy lifestyle.

Safe drinking tips:

  • Plan non-drinking days to avoid developing a habit.
  • Drink no more than three drinks (women) of four drinks (men) on any single occasion to reduce the risk of injury or harm.
  • Have no more than two drinks in any three-hour period.
  • For every alcoholic drink, have one that is non-alcoholic, such as water.
  • Always consider your age, body weight and any health problems that might suggest the need for lower limits.

In the following circumstances, the safest choice is not drinking at all:

  • When operating any type of vehicle, tools and/or machinery.
  • When taking medicine or other drugs that interact with alcohol.
  • If you are responsible for the safety of others.
  • If you are pregnant, planning to be pregnant or about to breastfeed.

Additional Resources:

Sign up for The UBC Healthy Newsletter and Enter to Win a Prize!

Sign up and win!

Interested in learning more about health and wellbeing? Want to discover free events, wellbeing programs at UBC and corporate discounts? Looking to stay connected across campus?

Staff and faculty at UBC Vancouver and Okanagan are invited to sign up now for the Healthy UBC Newsletter1. This monthly electronic publication is your one-stop shop for information, articles, recipes, health happenings and more.

Monthly features include:

  • Healthy Recipes and Tips
  • Fitting in Fitness
  • Thriving Faculty
  • Benefits Spotlight
  • Mindful Moments
  • Corporate Discounts

Staff and faculty who sign up between May 15 and May 31, 20172, will be entered to win a healthy prize pack (Food Services or Bookstore gift card, tote bag, water bottle, one-year subscription to Alive Magazine and more!).

Start on the road to a healthier you today!

Subscribe to the Healthy UBC Newsletter (Vancouver)

1. If you work in the Okanagan, you will receive the Healthy Okanagan Campus Newsletter, a monthly electronic publication that looks at health-related opportunities, announcements and events at the Okanagan campus (no sign-up in required).

2. Applies to new sign-ups only.

Humans of Human Resources: Stephanie Thorpe

This month we profile Stephanie Thorpe, Workplace Learning Facilitator, HR Workplace Learning and Engagement at the Vancouver Campus.

Please tell us about yourself.

I grew up near Vancouver, which meant that my family and I were often able to take advantage of all the exciting events and attractions that make this one of the world’s favourite cities. The draw to this beautiful area grew stronger over the years, and once I completed my bachelor’s degree in business, I decided to take the plunge and move to the “big city.” Shortly after moving to Vancouver, I joined UBC Human Resources in early 2013 as a PD Funding Programs Coordinator.

My career aspirations have always included various aspects of business management. A clear transition to human resources – in particular, learning and development – emerged when I observed how much can be accomplished in this area to influence the meaningfulness and enrichment of our workplaces and how our experiences at work can have positive impacts on other areas of our lives.

What do you do in HR?

In my current role, I support various learning and engagement programs for UBC staff through facilitation, learning design and program development. A large part of my role is co-facilitating the experiential and unique UBC Community Leadership Program. Did you know that the program connected emerging leaders with over 2,100 UBC students and local community members to complete significant community projects and initiatives in 2017? The accomplishments of the program’s leaders and the student volunteers were amazing!

I am inspired when I see people who are thriving in their work and are enthusiastic about their interests and accomplishments. Creating engaging and meaningful learning that directly supports staff and faculty at UBC to reach their individual goals is something that drives my enthusiasm about my role in UBC HR.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I try to fill my free time with as much variety, fun and adventure as possible! Exploring new places, both near and far, is a highlight of each year. Last year I managed to travel around the Gulf Islands by sailboat with a fantastic crew, and explored England and Wales with my family. This year’s travel plans include a road trip around Iceland, a couple of hiking excursions and a cycling adventure to Salt Spring Island.

Another passion of mine is supporting the Vancouver Whitecaps football club. I’ve been a member of the Vancouver Southsiders supporter group for a number of years and greatly enjoy the general camaraderie of attending games, both here in Vancouver and on our fantastic away trips to our Cascadian rivals in Portland and Seattle.

I also volunteer at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival each year as part of the security team. This role, fortunately, mainly consists of pleasant greetings, smiles and listening to beautiful music! It’s a wonderful thing to see all of the joviality and merriment as people leave the festival each evening. If you happen to spot me at this year’s festival, please say hello!

Benefits Story: UBC Benefits Support Employee’s Personal and Professional Growth

In this issue of Benefits FYI, we are sharing the story of a UBC employee who has used her benefits to pursue learning opportunities through UBC Workplace Learning & Engagement. Ritu is the Supervisor of Administrative Support in the undergraduate office at the Sauder School of Business. 

What inspired you to access the Professional Development (PD) Funding available through UBC Workplace Learning and Engagement? 

I started working at UBC in 2012 for Student Services in Access and Diversity and then in November 2016 began my current position at Sauder. Being a new Canadian, I wanted to learn more about Canada’s work environment and culture. I felt that it would be worthwhile and useful to take workshops and courses that would help me grow professionally and to improve upon my strengths. My supervisor was quite supportive and encouraged me to make use of relevant professional development opportunities.

What types of workshops and courses have you taken using the Professional Development Funding? 

I have taken many of the courses offered through UBC Workplace Learning and Engagement’s MOST program and picked up many tips from these workshops. Attending these courses has strengthened my communication skills, which enabled me to lead and motivate my Walkabout team (Brock Warriors) in UBC’s 11th Annual Walkabout Challenge.

That’s very inspiring! Do you have anything else you want to add? 

I would like to encourage everyone to take advantage of the Professional Development Funding, which offsets the costs of courses, seminars and workshops that can help you develop and enhance your professional and personal strengths. As an extra bonus, it’s a great way to network and meet people from other UBC departments and faculties. I am looking forward to using PD Funding, as well as Tuition Waivers, for other learning opportunities.


For more information on PD Funding, please visit the Workplace Learning and Engagement page.

Have you used benefits recently? Are you interested in sharing how these benefits have helped you and your family? We want to bring these stories to light and share them with the University community.

If you’d like to share your benefits story, please contact Stephanie Mah, Benefits Specialist, at 604-822-6823 or