While it is not something people like to think about, injuries, accidents, and illnesses can and do happen when traveling. As stressful as it might be to consider what unfortunate events may happen while you are away from home, it helps to have travel insurance coverage in case you require a medical evacuation during your trip.
Many comprehensive travel insurance plans do include some form of medical evacuation coverage, but it is typically not the same level of coverage as a separate medical evacuation insurance plan.
In this article, we will review what medical evacuation insurance is and what kind of coverage you can expect in your travel insurance plan.
What is Medical Evacuation Insurance?
Medical evacuation (sometimes referred to as âmedevacâ) insurance covers the often extremely high costs associated with being evacuated or transported when a medical emergency occurs. The specifics of coverage include:
Medical evacuation insurance will cover costs related to emergency transportation to the nearest adequate hospital where you can obtain medical treatment.
Keep in mind that you typically will not have a say in which hospital you are taken to if the coverage is part of a comprehensive travel insurance plan.
Transportation Home (Repatriation)
Once you are treated at a local hospital, you may be transported home to recover or to obtain further treatment.
Repatriation is often not included as part of a comprehensive travel insurance plan, so if this level of coverage is important to you, check your plan details.
The cost of transportation for a companion to join you at the hospital for one visit may be covered, but typically only if you have been in the hospital for a minimum number of days. To qualify for the benefit, some plans will require a minimum of seven consecutive days in the hospital or for a physician to certify that you will be in the hospital for the required minimum number of days based on your illness or injury.
Transportation of Minor Children
If you are expected to be in the hospital for a certain number of days following your medical emergency, your insurance can cover the cost of transporting any unattended minor children who are accompanying you on your trip to a person you elect or next of kin.
Similar to the hospital companion transportation benefit, medical evacuation insurance plans may vary when it comes to details, such as the minimum number of days you need to be in the hospital before you get this coverage. And of course, some plans donât offer coverage for transporting minors or companions at all.
Repatriation of Remains
Some insurance plans will cover the costs associated with the repatriation of remains. If a person dies while on a trip, their body can be returned home for services and burial. This coverage may include expenses such as transportation, embalming, cremation, and minimal casket container.
Itâs important to keep in mind that virtually every travel insurance plan will have exclusions, and medical evacuation insurance is no different.
Below are events that are commonly not covered by medical evacuation insurance:
- Suicide, suicide attempts, or self-harm
- Nervous, mental, or psychological disorders
- Being under the influence of drugs or intoxicants (unless itâs prescribed by a physician)
- Pregnancy and childbirth, elected abortion or fertility treatments
- Participation in athletics or sports events and competitions
- Motor competition
- Operating (or learning to operate) aircraft
- Extreme sports, like mountain climbing, skydiving, bungee jumping, parachuting, hang gliding, etc.
- Elective medical treatments and procedures
- Unlawful acts
- Traveling to areas that are restricted by a government authority
These and other exclusions may vary depending on the insurance company, so be sure to read the fine print of your plan.
For example, if you plan on engaging in extreme sports, know that many plans’ medical evacuation insurance will not cover you if you have an accident and you need to be transported to the hospital. You may wish to buy a special extreme sports/adventure travel insurance plan if you want to be covered for participation in those activities.
It is also worth noting that some plans also will not pay for any loss caused by or resulting from a pandemic or endemic disease. Due to todayâs COVID-19 reality, this might be something you want to ensure is covered by your travel insurance plan.
Comprehensive Travel Insurance vs. Medical Evacuation Insurance
When shopping for any kind of travel insurance, keep in mind that plans differ widely in coverage. Some of the medical evacuation benefits described above will be included in a comprehensive travel insurance plan, but not always. To the extent those benefits are included in a comprehensive plan, the terms of coverage may differ from plan to plan. If your comprehensive travel insurance policy doesnât offer the benefits you need, such as the ability to choose where you receive medical attention following a medical emergency, it makes sense to purchase a plan upgrade that will fully cover you.
Travel insurance companies typically offer a plan specifically for medical evacuation. These stand-alone plans, which can be purchased in addition to a comprehensive travel insurance plan or along with other stand-alone plans, offer much more robust coverage and flexibility to travelers who could require medical evacuation.
Is Medical Evacuation and Travel Medical Insurance the Same?
While they sound similar, medical evacuation insurance and travel medical insurance are actually different types of travel insurance. Medical evacuation insurance can cover transportation costs associated with a medical emergency. Medical travel insurance can cover the cost of medical treatment due to an accident or illness, such as hospital bills, doctor visits, medication, lab tests, and so on.
If you are concerned about having an unexpected medical emergency on your trip, it would be prudent to buy both types of travel insurance to ensure optimal coverage. Otherwise, you may be on the hook for pricey medical and transportation costs.
Security/Political Evacuation Coverage
It is also worth noting that there are generally two types of evacuation coverage available to travelers. We have already reviewed medical evacuation coverage, which covers the cost and coordination of transportation to a medical facility following a medical emergency.
The other type of evacuation coverage is for security and political evacuation. This includes evacuation from a location deemed unsafe while you are traveling due to political turmoil or security risks. This coverage may include transportation back to your home but depends on how the situation at your travel site develops.
If youâre traveling to a country that is experiencing political unrest or potential security threats, you may want to consider this type of evacuation coverage since it likely wonât be covered under a general travel insurance or medical evacuation plan.
Again, always read the fine print of your travel insurance plan to ensure you are getting the best and most suitable coverage for your specific trip.
Just like any other type of travel insurance, having a medical evacuation insurance plan isnât absolutely necessary for everyone, but it really comes down to what will give you the most peace of mind when traveling.
People get sick. Accidents happen. Think of the kind of coverage would you like to have if you or a traveling companion gets hurt or becomes ill.
When researching travel insurance plans, look for what is included for medical evacuation. If you find that comprehensive travel insurance plans are lacking in this area, look into also buying a specific plan for medical evacuation.
If you are not sure where to start getting quotes and comparing travel insurance plans, visit TravelInsurance.com where you can review plans from top rated travel insurance companies in one place.
After entering information about your travel plans, like your planned budget, number of companions, and travel date, you can get instant quotes that include not only prices, but details about all your coverage options, including medical evacuation.
Medical Evacuation Membership Plans
Comprehensive Travel Insurance