Field Research

The university’s insurance program covers faculty, staff, volunteers and registered University of Alberta students while they are performing field research if the research is:

  • part of regular studies
  • a university-approved activity
  • directly connected to the university

Please note the following exceptions to university insurance. These types of activities are not covered:

  • personal time: activities undertaken in your free time outside of field research activities. Please confirm with your personal insurance broker to discuss extension of your homeowner or tenants policy for personal insurance protection in the course of your travel.
  • professional activities: if the field research involves your own business, it is important that you contact a qualified insurance broker to discuss and arrange the appropriate insurance protection.
  • hazardous materials: EHS and Insurance & Risk Assessment should be contacted to discuss coverage if you will be handling any hazardous materials.
  • illegal or criminal acts

There may also be specific jurisdictional insurance requirements in some parts of the world that apply to your research, particularly if it involves any type of clinical trial. Please contact Insurance & Risk Assessment directly to discuss.

Depending on the nature of your research, various kinds of insurance coverage may apply. Read more below about each type of coverage. Please note that the information provided is intended to give researchers a high level overview of coverage that may be available to protect them in the course of their work. Additional limitations and exclusions may apply. Contact Insurance & Risk Assessment directly for clarification.

  • General Liability

    The university’s general liability insurance protects you, while acting on university business, against claims that may arise from accidental or unintended incidents resulting in bodily injury and property damage to others. Please do not sign any agreement without first obtaining review by Insurance & Risk Assessment or General Counsel

    Examples of field research activities covered:

    * unmanned aerial vehicles under 5 kg (i.e. drones).

    * damage to short-term rental space (eg. hotels).

    * ownership, maintenance, use, operation, loading or unloading of any watercraft under 1000 tons.

    * operation of non-licensed equipment or machinery or apparatus including its equipment mounted on or attached to an automobile as long as equipment does not have to be insured under an automobile policy.

    * operation of non-licensed equipment used occasionally on a public highway or equipment which may be required to carry a special license and does not require to be insured under an automobile insurance policy.

    * loading or unloading of equipment.


    Not covered: nuclear energy hazards, pollution/environmental contamination, breach of human rights including complaints, illegal or criminal activity, workers' compensation. 

  • Medical, Health & Travel
    Insurance & Risk Assessment recommends that accident, health and travel insurance be considered for out of country travel. Some countries may require you to purchase health insurance or workers' compensation prior to entering the country. Please review our Insurance for Travel page for more information about university coverage and options.
  • Property

    The university covers all university-owned or legally-leased field equipment against direct physical loss or damage. This includes insurance against damage or loss due to fire, wind, water, flood, tornado, typhoon, tsunami, monsoon/storms, earthquake, and theft. In order for equipment to be considered legally leased there must be a written agreement in place.

    Examples of property covered: equipment, computers, satellite phones, lab equipment, registered unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV or drones).

    UAVs: Please note that every jurisdiction has privacy and aviation regulations regarding the use of drones and operators are responsible for adherence. 

    Type of property and loss not covered:

    * Equipment breakage due to faulty workmanship or normal wear and tear.

    * Loss of samples.

    * Electronic data and/or records.

    * Loss of property while in transit or cargo, due to mould and fungi, or by mysterious disappearance.

    * Transportation of dangerous and/or high-value goods. Insurance & Risk Assessment should be contacted with details of any specialized and/or high-value equipment that will be in-transit or shipped via cargo. EHS and Insurance & Risk Assessment should also be contacted to discuss coverage if you will be handling any hazardous materials, including radiation.

    * Unprotected remote sensing equipment, satellites and other similar unprotected equipment while being deployed, in use or in operation, or being retrieved or recovered anywhere including on land, underground, under the sea, at sea, in the atmosphere or in space.

    * Personal property of any kind, including cell phones and cameras. These items may or not be insurable under your personal homeowner's/tenant's insurance policy. Please contact your insurance broker directly to discuss.

    Note: Any agreement for the rental of short or long-term leased property, must be brought to the attention of the university. Please do not sign any agreement without first obtaining review by Insurance & Risk Assessment or General Counsel. When submitting a claim, receipts confirming purchase will be required. 

  • Shipping & Storage of Goods
    This section is in development.
  • Vehicles

    You must be an authorized driver to be covered by the university's vehicle insurance. Please ensure you leave appropriate time in advance of travel to complete the authorization process. 

    Note: only passenger-type vehicles and light trucks are covered.

    University insurance does not cover flat tires, damage to windshields, or damage from road hazards.

    External Rental Vehicles:

    * As every jurisdiction can be different, additional supplemental coverage from the rental car company should be purchased.

    * Please ensure you carefully check the vehicle (inside/outside, including roof) for existing damage prior to accepting and returning back to the vehicle terminal. 

    * All damage should be clearly indicated on the vehicle rental documentation and safely stored in case of a claim. Take photos or video as supporting evidence.  

  • Workers' Compensation

    The Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) is a disability insurance system governed by the Alberta Workers’ Compensation Act that covers accidents arising in the course of employment.

    It is critical to understand the workers' compensation regulations and coverage vary by jurisdiction. Be sure to understand the rules of the jurisdiction where your research will be carried out. That jurisdiction may allow WCB Alberta to extend coverage or you could be required to purchase a stand-alone insurance policy.

    For more information:

    Staff WCB Coverage
    Student WCB Coverage

    Note: WCB is not intended to cover injuries incurred during recreational, social, or other activities conducted in your free time.