Accident and Sickness Program for Exchanges ASPE
The U.S. Department of State provides all Fulbright grantees with supplemental accident and sickness benefit, the ASPE (Accident and Sickness Program for Exchanges).
ASPE is not an actual insurance, but rather a supplemental health and accident benefit. It is also limited in its scope. There are, for instance, limitations to medical expenses covered and pre-existing conditions are not covered. For this reason, you are highly encouraged to maintain your current policy or to obtain comprehensive health insurance coverage.
The ASPE benefit is provided for the duration of the grant period stated in the Grant Authorization. The coverage is valid only for time spent in Finland and on CIES, IIE or Fulbright Finland–approved Fulbright related travel. In other words, it does not cover leisure traveling abroad while you are a Fulbright grantee.
The ASPE coverage is for the grantee only; it does not cover family members, nor luggage, etc. It is rather limited in its scope.
It is important that you make sure that all your accompanying family members are properly insured. The U.S. Department of State has negotiated an insurance policy for purchase for dependents through Specialty Risk International. The policy is called “Liaison International”. Please ask further information from IIE. It is recommended you research different options to find a policy most suited to your family’s needs.
Many former Fulbrighters have been able to keep the insurance plan from their home institution. This is recommended, especially if your plan covers your family members as well. Please make sure your plan is valid outside the United States.
Please check the ASPE guidebook for details regarding the ASPE coverage.
Fulbright Specialists are an exception to the rule and are not covered by ASPE. You should contact CIES regarding your insurance coverage.
The travel benefit of ASPE is valid only when the grantee travels directly to and from Finland, immediately prior and after the grant period, and on Fulbright related travel, while you are a grantee.
If you are planning to have a vacation en route to or from (or while in) Finland, please make sure that you have insurance coverage for that period. ASPE does not cover damaged or lost luggage.
If you are planning to make short trips to the neighboring countries on holidays or weekends during your grant period, make sure to have an insurance policy under which you are covered for these trips or look into traveler’s insurance policies before you depart from the U.S. Please note that Finnish insurance companies provide traveler’s insurance policies only for permanent residents of Finland.
You should also check with your insurance company to determine whether your home-owner's policy will cover losses from damage or theft while abroad. If not, personal property insurance can be purchased locally in Finland at a relatively low cost. However, it is best to determine before leaving the U.S. whether this is necessary.
Safety and Security
Finland is known to be a very safe country. With a low crime rate and a high sense of civic responsibility, it is easy to feel comfortable visiting and living in Finnish cities. With its small population and sparsely inhabited cities, Finland is widely regarded as a safe and secure country where people trust and help one another. The police are friendly and easy to approach.
Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)
You should sign up with the U.S. Embassy Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). Through this program:
- You will receive important information from the U.S. Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country which will help you in making informed decisions about your travel plans.
- The U.S. Embassy can contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.
- Your family and friends will be able to get in touch with you in an emergency.
Read more about security, the law and other topics concerning public services and administration in Finland at www.suomi.fi
More information about safety in Finland: