Cathy Lizak
Contributing writer
last updated 12/23/2020

How to pick the right travel insurance policy

Not all policies cover medical flights or international repatriation

Air AmbulanceInsurance

You packed your bag and bought your airline ticket but are you forgetting something. Most people do not think about purchasing travel insurance when they travel a few hundred miles to visit relatives. Many do not even consider travel insurance policies when traveling thousands of miles abroad. Whether traveling short distances or around the world, considering travel insurance is a prudent idea.

Global Air Ambulance does not sell travel insurance nor do we recommend any one insurance company. However, if you are caught away from home sick or injured, the cost of getting back could be in excess of $250,000. Many customers who contact us find out that they must spend months in a foreign country recuperating because they simply cannot afford to get back home. And since many insurance companies do not cover medical costs when traveling outside of the United States, an unfortunate accident or illness could cost you your life’s savings or even bankrupt you.

Air ambulance within the United States is typically between $10,000 and $40,000. From Europe to the United States is typically between $60,000 and $100,000. From Asia, the cost rises to between $100,000 and $200,000. From the Middle East, the cost of Air Ambulance could be in excess of $200,000. The cost of a travel insurance policy is typically between $300 and $500. So you can see, the cost benefit trade off is quite large.

No one wants to think of the worst but doing your due diligence with travel insurance may save you tens of thousands of dollars. Medical emergencies do happen while traveling and emergency care away from home is often times very expensive. The way to provide you the peace of mind that, if you experienced a medical emergency while vacationing, you would be able to be evacuated to your home for medical treatment would be to purchase premium travel insurance.

There are many travel insurance companies offering many different travel insurance policies. Many offer basic policies which reimburse the traveller for delays, lost luggage, or flight cancellations. Yet, if you want a policy that will transport you from your vacation spot back to your city of origin, you will need to purchase a premium, or upgraded, policy. The cost is not much greater, perhaps $100 more, yet it is the premium policies that provide evacuation services.

To to be fully covered, the best choice is a policy that will allow you to choose where you want to receive your medical care. Many lower level policies will provide care for the patient but at a facility of the travel insurance companies choosing. This may be at the closest facility available that can offer adequate care. What the insurance company deems adequate care may not be what you as the patient ultimately want.

Usually a patient will want to be treated at facility close to their home. They want to be treated by providers that they have a relationship with, in a town that they are familiar with, and near family and friends who can provide needed support. In order to be able to direct where you as the patient would like to be treated, typically you have to purchase the premium product.

Be careful of any policy language which includes “If medically necessary” or “decided on by the treating physician”. Ask the simple question “Will I be able to decide where I will be treated? Will this policy pay to return me to a facility in my home city?

Often times, as a benefit for their members, credit card companies state that they include travel insurance for certain vacation related purchases. Review the details of this benefit. Again, it may be a low-level product which will not provide the coverage that meets your needs. The time to discover which services are covered and which services are not covered is before you have an emergency.

If you ever need to use your policy and your insurance company tells you that service is not available for several days, please contact Global Air Ambulance. Many times, we can evacuate you on the same day you call. You can then contact your insurance provider and let them know you have found a more timely option. Global Air Ambulance works with many of the insurance providers and we would be happy to assist you.

A medical emergency while traveling is a real concern. Medical evacuation is very expensive but being cared for at home with preferred providers is priceless. Taking the steps to investigate carefully the travel insurance products that are available and then purchasing the right travel insurance policy, you can ensure that your will be able to direct your medical care while traveling and be transported home if that is what you desire.

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