Emergency Medical Evacuation Coverage

Coverage for transportation costs incurred when dealing with medical conditions that require extraordinary means to transport you to a hospital and then home.

Emergency Medical Evacuation Coverage

Over the past few years, more people are traveling abroad.  According to statistics from the ITA National Travel & Tourism Office, there have been at a record 93 million outbound travelers from the US in 2018.  That number is expected to increase for 2019. In the US most of us live near adequate medical facilities  and how we’re transported there isn’t a concern. What about when we travel outside the United States? What happens if you are on a cruise and you have a sickness that requires you to get airlifted off the ship? Or what if you are traveling to a remote destination and you are seriously injured and the closest medical facility is miles away? How do you get to that hospital or medical facility if you need extraordinary accommodations to transport you due to injury or illness?  Statistically speaking, there is one case of emergency medical evacuation per every 4,000 travelers.  Given the numbers of outbound US travelers, there would be the potential for 23,250 emergency medical evacuations.  This is where Emergency Medical Evacuation becomes one of the most important travel insurance coverages to have.


What is Emergency Medical Evacuation and why is it important?

Also known as "medevac coverage" or sometimes "emergency medical evacuation and repatriation" this coverage is for those expenses incurred for having to be transported to a hospital or medical facility, in most cases due to an injury or sickness that manifests while on your covered trip.  Out of all the expenses a traveler might incur on a trip, being medically evacuated has the potential to be the most expensive and financially crippling events that can occur, with some cases costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.  

Does my health personal health insurance policy cover me?

In most cases, your own personal health insurance policy does not provide coverage for emergency medical evacuation and repatriation. We do recommend contacting your health insurance provider to see what is covered.

What about coverage through my credit card?

It depends on the card. Some do, some don’t. If you do have coverage for emergency medical evacuation on your credit card, be sure to see what restrictions and exclusions apply. Some may exclude pre-existing medical conditions from their coverage.

What does Emergency Medical Evacuation cover?

Medevac provides coverage for extraordinary medical transportation expenses. These expenses result when an insured is so seriously ill or injured that they require extraordinary transportation. There are two primary coverages here - evacuation and repatriation. With evacuation, the coverage is for transporting you to the closest hospital that can take proper care of you until you are stabilized, and after you are medically stable, return home. Repatriation coverage is for the costs to return an insured traveler’s remains home if they should die while on trip. There are even some travel insurance policies that are offering non-emergency evacuation coverages and we will discuss those further along in this article.

There are some plans that have additional benefits included in the emergency medical evacuation coverage. One is “bedside visit” or “transportation to join you”. If the insured it traveling alone, this benefit helps cover transportation costs of a person of the insured’s choice to travel out to stay with them while they are in a hospital or medical facility.  The other benefit provides coverage to return dependent children home in the event the insured is hospitalized. In most cases these benefits have a time requirement as to how many days the insured must be hospitalized for (usually 7 days) before the benefit goes into effect. Be sure to read your policy for specific details.

Emergency Medical Evacuation Covers:

  • Medical transportation costs if injured or sick to the closest hospital

  • Repatriations of remains

  • Bedside visit (some)

  • Return of dependent children (some)

How does Emergency Medical Evacuation work?

If you need to get medically evacuated, usually the mode of transportation is by what means are standard or customary to the area that you are traveling in.  So depending on where you are traveling to, that could entail aircraft (airplanes and helicopters) or other modes of transportation. 

All travel insurance policies have a 24 hour emergency assistance number that puts you into contact with the assistance company the insurer uses.  Most plans state that the evacuation must be pre-certified by the assistance company for the coverage to apply. What happens if you are not able to contact them?  Some insurance companies will say that if there’s an emergency and you need to get evacuated, do what is necessary and contact them as soon as you are able to.  

In most cases, the insurance company wants the evacuation to be pre-certified.  This means getting in contact with the emergency assistance company of the insurer and the attending physician.

How much Emergency Medical Evacuation is enough?

In general, the minimum you’d want is $100,000 per person for domestic travel.  For travelers going on cruises or international, we’d recommend looking at plans that offer $150,000 per person for evacuation and repatriation.  The cost of getting evacuated off of a cruise ship can vary greatly depending on where you are at that particular time. Many insurance plans that cruise lines offer directly often fall far short of $100,000- sometimes not even $50,000.  

Emergency Medical Evacuation Hospital of Choice

There are some plans that offer a benefit called Hospital of Choice, which allows the insured to choose their destination  hospital. What is important to know is that with Hospital of Choice, the initial evacuation is still to the closest hospital that can take proper care of you until you are medically stable, then transportation to the hospital of your choice.  Transportation to the nearest hospital is standard regardless of the Emergency Medical Evacuation plan.

Emergency Medical Evacuation and Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

This part is important- remember that all travel insurance policies exclude pre-existing medical conditions unless you qualify for the pre-existing medical conditions waiver which some comprehensive package plans offer. What if you don’t qualify for the pre-existing medical conditions waiver?  There are still some plans that would work for you that do not apply the pre-existing medical conditions exclusion to the emergency medical evacuation and repatriation benefit.  Most often you’ll see this in either the policy’s definition of a pre-existing medical condition, or in the Exclusions section of the policy. 

Non-Emergency Medical Evacuation and Political Evacuation

What happens when there’s a natural disaster or civil unrest that makes your trip unsafe?   With some plans there is a sub benefit under emergency medical evacuation that can be called Non-Emergency Medical Evacuation, Security Evacuation or Political Evacuation depending on the policy..  This is coverage for evacuating you out of your destination if it becomes unsafe as defined in the policy. With most plans, this benefit evacuates you from a safe departure point to a safe location.  Some plans may have a time window after the event occurs that you must be evacuated within, usually 7 days. Also, the benefit amount for Non Emergency Medical Evacuation tends to be more limited than regular Emergency Medical Evacuation.  Be sure to read your policy for details.

What plans offer Emergency Medical Evacuation?

So what types of policies offer Emergency Medical Evacuation?  The benefit can be found within Comprehensive Package PlansTravel Medical Plans, and Medical Evacuation only plans. 

Available with:

  • Comprehensive Package Plans

  • Travel Medical Plans

  • Medical Evacuation Only Plans

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Recommended Travel Insurance Plans

The following are the top 3 plans out of 3 available to you. All coverage limits and premiums are in US $.
Company & Plan Name Emergency Medical Evacuation Total Premium

Travel Insured International

Worldwide Trip Protector
See Details
$ 1,000,000

See Policy Wording
Get A Quote

Generali Global Assistance

See Details
$ 1,000,000 [2]
$10,000 limit applies for companion hospitality expenses
See Policy Wording
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Generali Global Assistance

See Details
$ 500,000 [2]
$10,000 limit applies for companion hospitality expenses
See Policy Wording
Get A Quote