Emergency Evacuation And Repatriation
A baggage delay is a nuisance -- you buy another toothbrush or pair of socks to hold you until your bags show up. A trip cancellation would hurt more but losing a few thousand dollars, while painful, is not the end of the world. But a $100,000 emergency evacuation or repatriation can ruin your retirement. That's why many travelers, even if they decide not to get any other benefits, often insist on having emergency evacuation/repatriation coverage.
What can an evacuation or repatriation cost? A source at CSA has said that the average cost is $25,000 which probably means there are lots of evacuations that cost much less averaged in with a few that can be $100,000 or more.
What is an emergency evacuation? If you need immediate transport from wherever you're at to emergency medical care that's an evacuation. It can include anything from ground transportation up to an air ambulance with doctors and nurses in attendance. A cruiser's worst fear is having to be taken off the ship by helicopter -- while it's rare, it does happen.
What's a repatriation (sometimes called a "non-emergency medical evacuation")? Once you're stable enough to travel but still need medical care the insurer will arrange for you to be brought home or to a hospital near your home. It can also refer to the return of your mortal remains to your home.
Where to get this coverage? The coverage is probably included in whatever package travel insurance plan you're considering. It's become a fairly standard feature of most plans although the coverage amount can vary widely -- anywhere from $25,000 up to $2,000,000. Stand-alone plans from companies such as MedJet are also available on an annual or per trip basis.
Here's a sample from the TravelSafe Classic plan:
|When You suffer a loss of life for any reason or
incur a Sickness or Injury during the course of a Trip, the following
benefits are payable, up to the Maximum Benefit Amount. [with
this plan $1,000,000]
1. Emergency Medical
Evacuation : If the local attending Legally Qualified Physician and the
Program Medical Advisor determine that transportation to a Hospital or
medical facility is Medically Necessary to treat an unforeseen Sickness
or Injury which is acute or life threatening and adequate Medical
Treatment is not available in the immediate area, the Transportation
Expense incurred will be paid for the Usual and Customary Charges for
transportation to the closest Hospital or medical facility capable of
providing that treatment.
2. Non-Emergency Medical Evacuation : If the local attending Legally Qualified Physician and the Program Medical Advisor determine that it is Medically Necessary for You to return to Your place of permanent residence because of an unforeseen Sickness or Injury which is acute or life-threatening, the Transportation Expense incurred will be paid for Your return to Your permanent residence or to a Hospital or medical facility closest to Your permanent place of residence capable of providing that treatment via one of the following methods of transportation, as approved, in writing, by the Program Medical Advisor: i) one-way Economy Transportation; ii) commercial air upgrade (to Business or First Class), based on Your condition as recommended by the local attending Legally Qualified Physician and verified in writing; or iii) other covered land or air transportation including, but not limited to, commercial stretcher, medical escort, or the Usual and Customary Charges for air ambulance, provided such transportation has been pre-approved and arranged by the Program Medical Advisor. Transportation must be via the most direct and economical route.
3. Return of Remains : In the event of Your death, the expense incurred will be paid for minimally necessary casket or air tray, preparation and transportation of Your remains to Your place of residence or to the place of burial.
But, as always, you can't stop there. If you poke around the plan document you'll also find the following additional information:
| "*For Persons Age 80 and older, the Benefit limits
are subject to a maximum of $25,000 for Accident & Sickness
Medical Expense and $50,000 for Emergency Medical Evacuation/
Repatriation of Remains."
and in the plan's list of general exclusions you'll find this:
"14. due to a Pre-Existing Condition, as defined in the Policy. The Pre-Existing Condition Limitation does not apply to the Emergency Medical Evacuation or Return of Remains coverage; or "
That second part is huge -- no matter what your situation with pre-existing conditions you're covered. Many insurers will apply their normal pre-existing condition exclusion to this benefit also so iff that's the case with the plan you're choosing be sure to get the waiver of the pre-existing condition exclusion if possible. And be sure to check your state exceptions for any other changes that might apply to you.
1. Emergency Medical Evacuation : If the local attending Legally Qualified Physician and the Program Medical Advisor determine that transportation to a Hospital or medical facility is Medically Necessary to treat an unforeseen Sickness or Injury which is acute or life threatening and adequate Medical Treatment is not available in the immediate area, the Transportation Expense incurred will be paid for the Usual and Customary Charges for transportation to the closest Hospital or medical facility capable of providing that treatment.
What this is telling you is that the decision as to where you will be taken and by what means is not going to be yours. This is standard with all of the package plans and is the major difference between these plans and some (but not all) of the stand-alone evacuation plans such as MedJet. How big of a deal is this? In all honesty, if you are in serious enough shape to need an evacuation your decision will probably be the same as what the insurer would decide -- get me to the nearest hospital ASAP that can handle this. The big difference probably comes in when you have been stabilized. At that point there may be a difference of opinion as to what steps to take next. With the plan shown above if the insurer wants you to remain where you are for a while longer you have two choices -- stay where you are or arrange your own transport at your own expense. With a service such as MedJet the decision is yours.
There's obviously a difference in cost. With the package plans the emergency evacuation portion of your premium is minimal -- just a few bucks depending on your age. MedJet, if purchased on a per-trip or annual basis, will cost quite a bit more. For those that want complete control over their medical decisions while on a trip that additional cost may be well worth it.
thing to keep in mind is that the insurers want to make all of the
arrangements for your evacuation, even taking care of pre-paying the
service provider. This is a great feature because you may not be able
to afford to pre-pay a $100,000 air transport. But be aware that not
following this procedure may void your coverage and you might not be
reimbursed. From that same policy:
All medical transportation services must be authorized and arranged by One Call. In the event of an unauthorized Medical Evacuation, reimbursement may be limited or coverage may be invalidated.
Some insurers have recently come out with a "hospital of choice" benefit. Here's one example that comes at no additional expense:
Hospital of Choice
Obviously, there no additional premium because you're picking up the tab for any additional expense. Other insurers will cover this additional expense if you pay an additional premium for this coverage at the time the plan is purchased such as with some Travel Guard plans and their optional medical upgrade.
TravelSafe has recently come out with a new benefit which might be of value to you depending on your type of trip and your destination. It's called "Non-Medical Emergency Evacuation" (not to be confused with the same plan's "Non-Emergency Medical Evacuation."
This coverage is included at no additional cost and can be invaluable when you're in a tough situation far from home.