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Compare medical evacuation and repatriation insurance

Medical transit could cost you hundreds of thousands for an overseas emergency.

Updated

The cost of evacuation you to the nearest skilled medical facility or flying you back home could run down your bank account without overseas medical coverage. Look at what’s covered under your US health insurance first. Then you might add medical travel insurance coverage, which can cover medical care, transportation and even the cost of flying your family back home.

What is repatriation insurance?

Repatriation in the context of travel insurance is the act of returning someone to their home country after they suffer an illness or injury overseas. Medical experts may deem a medical condition too serious for treatment within certain countries, making evacuation necessary. Most insurance companies call this medical evacuation coverage, also known as MedEvac.

Emergency medical evacuation may remove you to the nearest suitable medical facility if the local medical care available is limited or non-existent. In the worst-case scenario, coverage can pay for the repatriation of remains — sending the remains of a deceased traveler back to their home country.

What does repatriation insurance cover?

Repatriation insurance kicks in for serious illnesses and injuries that a doctor deems unfit for that country’s medical services. Coverage may include:

  • Emergency evacuation or repatriation covers emergency medical transportation to return you to your home country or transport you to the nearest medical facility. Emergency transportation can cover an ambulance or aircraft up to your policy’s limit, depending on the degree of medical urgency.
  • Travel home for your family. Your emergency medical coverage can pay for your family to return home if they don’t want to continue the journey without you.
  • Emergency reunion. Some plans specific to international travel will pay for a friend or family member to travel to your bedside in serious situations. The benefit may pay for their flight, accommodations and living expenses while they stay with you.
  • Travel assistance provides services for problems you experience overseas. Services include helping you renew documents that were lost or stolen, contacting friends and family or locating medical or legal professionals.
  • Repatriation of remains. Repatriation insurance covers the cost of returning remains to your home country if you pass away while overseas.

    Compare travel insurance with repatriation and medical evacuation coverage

    Name Product Trip Cancellation Emergency Medical Expenses Baggage Coverage Trip delay
    Allianz Travel OneTrip Emergency Medical Plan
    $50,000
    $2,000
    $1,000
    Budget-friendly policy designed for international and domestic travelers who want medical protection. Trip cancellation and trip interruption not included.
    Allianz Travel AllTrips Basic Plan
    $20,000
    $1,000
    $600
    Annual policy that offers affordable protection, but doesn't include trip cancellation or trip interruption.
    Travelex Travel Basic
    100%
    $15,000
    $500
    $500
    Essential travel coverage — with the option to customize — that can protect the cost of your trip.
    Travelex Flight Insure
    $10,000
    $1,000
    $100
    Protect the cost of your flight and choose the coverage amount that meets your needs — trip delay protection included.
    RoamRight Essential Travel Insurance Plan
    100%
    $15,000
    $750
    $500
    Basic policy with coverage that includes trip cancellation insurance, tourist health insurance and baggage insurance.
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    Compare up to 4 providers

    Why do I need insurance for medical evacuation or repatriation?

    Medical evacuation and repatriation insurance could protect you from a massive overseas medical bill. Even more important, it may save your life in an emergency. You should consider medical evacuation coverage, particularly if you’re traveling somewhere remote or with poor medical care.

    For example, an air evacuation from a cruise could cost you $50,000–$100,000, according to the CDC. Since cruises have limited medical personnel, you may face a high chance for evacuation if you’re prone to illnesses. Coverage could help you get the medical assistance you need without worrying about costs.

    How much medical evacuation coverage do I need?

    Because of expensive overseas medical and transportation costs, consider policies with high limits like $50,000 for medical care and over $100,000 for transportation. However, your health insurance policy may help you lower additional insurance coverage if it covers overseas medical expenses. You might decide on an adequate level of coverage and then buy enough travel health insurance to make up any gaps.

    What’s not covered?

    Most policies have some general exclusions that apply to repatriation or medical coverage:

    • Medical transportation expenses not deemed medically necessary
    • Costs your personal health insurance covers
    • Costs related to a pre-existing medical condition, unless you have specific coverage for this
    • A commercial flight home if your air carrier re-routes your scheduled return flight — Change fees may get reimbursed
    • Medical costs if you refuse evacuation or repatriation
    • Medical costs you incur once you arrive in the US

    How do I know if my insurance covers medical evacuation?

    You can find out where your insurance covers medical evacuation by looking at your policy documents. You can access these through a customer account online, emailed documents or find out coverage by contacting your insurer’s customer service. Most travel insurance policies include medical coverage and transportation expenses.

    How can emergency assistance from my travel insurance help?

    Most travel insurance companies have their own emergency assistance service with teams available 24/7. The team may assist you with:

    • Offering medical advice and monitoring
    • Helping you get access to cash
    • Refilling prescriptions
    • Finding information about local hospitals
    • Arranging emergency medical transportation

    Their emergency service providers include medical experts who may assess your need for assistance. Since they act on behalf of your insurer, you might make them your first point of contact in a medical emergency.

    • It’s important to follow the team’s instructions since a claim might get denied if you ignore the team’s advice.
    • You may need authorization from your insurer before making any arrangements yourself.

    What should I do in a medical emergency overseas?

    If you’re experiencing an urgent medical need, consider a few steps to get the help you need:

    1. Get yourself to nearest medical facility if you already know a reputable hospital. Keep your passport and visa handy.
    2. Contact your insurance company’s emergency assistance. They will advise you on how to proceed, help arrange appropriate assistance or authorize payment.
    3. Follow your doctors’ instructions for medical treatment.
    4. Let your insurance company know if the hospital can’t provide the care you need. The emergency team can arrange transportation to another medical facility or home.
    5. Get receipts. When possible, ask for itemized invoices and official doctor’s notes to prove your medical expenses.
    6. File your medical claim once the emergency situation calms down. However, each insurer includes a different deadline for filing claims like within 90 days of the expense.

    Bottom line

    Consider high limits on medical emergency coverage while traveling abroad, so you’re not left making a difficult decision about healthcare. In dire situations or in areas with poor medical care, this insurance could save your life.

    Common questions about medical evacuation and repatriation insurance

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