Don’t Get Stuck With a Massive Bill! Why Medical Evacuation Insurance Is Worth Considering

We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

Don’t Get Stuck With a Massive Bill!  Why Medical Evacuation Insurance Is Worth Considering

Million Mile SecretsDon’t Get Stuck With a Massive Bill!  Why Medical Evacuation Insurance Is Worth ConsideringMillion Mile Secrets Team

We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

Miles and points can take you far off the beaten path.  Which is why I love collecting them!

But what happens when you have a medical emergency and help is far away?  Traditional health insurance plans typically don’t cover medical evacuation expenses.  So if you have a medical emergency, you could get stuck with a huge bill!

Evacuation Insurance Review
Medical Evacuations From Remote Locations Can Cost Over $100,000+ per Incident!

I’ll explain what’s typically included in medical evacuation insurance and when you might want to consider it!

Thanks to Million Mile Secret Agents JB and Liz for suggesting this topic!

What Is Medical Evacuation Insurance?

Medical evacuation insurance covers transportation expenses to an appropriate medical facility in the event you suffer a serious injury or illness while traveling.

Some plans will simply transport you to the nearest major hospital, while others will fly you back home to be treated or to any hospital in the world of your choosing.

Evacuation Insurance Review
A Serious Fracture While Traveling to a Remote Area Could Cost Tens of Thousands of Dollars If You Need to Be Moved to a Medical Facility

This unique benefit is typically not provided by traditional medical insurance plans.  But it doesn’t hurt to speak with your provider about your current coverage and supplemental options.

Why Do I Need It?

You may want to consider Evacuation Insurance if you’ll be traveling abroad in an area known for poor medical facilities or visiting remote locations.  In the event you do require a medical evacuation, costs can range from $15,000 to well over $100,000.

Where Can I Get It?

First, speak with your current provider to see if you’re already covered.  You should also consider searching for an international medical plan, on sites like Square Mouth and Insure My Trip.  These plans vary in price based on the length of the trip, your destination, and several other factors.  And they offer almost any amount of coverage to meet your needs.

But you might not be able to choose exactly where you’ll be transported.  If that’s important to you, then Medjet Assist or AirMed would be good options.  These companies provide membership programs — not insurance — that will fly you to any hospital in the world should you require a medical evacuation more than 150 miles from your home.

Evacuation Insurance Review
If You Want Control Over Where You’re Transported, Consider Programs Like Medjet Assist or AirMed

Prices for these services start at $99 for short-term individual memberships and go up to $385 for a yearly family membership.  Although these prices can be more expensive than international medical plans, they get you all the way home.  And without the hassle of deductibles, claim forms, or dollar limits.

But they basically only provide one service.  International medical plans offer much more comprehensive protection, but usually only transport you to the closet reputable hospital.  Assess your individual situation and priorities before making a decision.

Reasons to Consider Evacuation Insurance

1.  If You’re in Poor Health or Have a Pre-Existing Condition

Persons with chronic diseases or a history of medical issues should always be prepared for emergencies.

2.  If You’re Over 70

Unexpected health issues are more likely to occur at this age.

3.  If You’ll Be Traveling to Areas Affected by Life-Threatening Diseases

If the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has issued a travel health notice for where you’ll be traveling, then extra precautions should be taken.

4.  If You’ll Be Traveling to Remote Locations With Few or Poor Medical Facilities

You may find yourself in a precarious situation a great distance from urban centers or in low-income countries without advanced medical equipment.

5.  If You’ll Be Taking an Extended Trip

The longer you’re away, the greater the chance an unforeseen event strikes.

6.  If You Frequently Travel Abroad

Again, this just increases the likelihood you may require this specialty coverage.

Can You Be Covered With a Pre-Existing Condition?

Membership programs like MedJet Assist and Air Ambulance Card have almost no pre-existing condition exclusions.  Many of the more traditional plans cover pre-existing conditions too, as long the policy was purchased within 14 to 21 days of your trip deposit or if you are also simultaneously enrolled in a primary health insurance plan.

Note:   Injuries or illnesses sustained from in illegal activities, as a result of drug or alcohol use, or from participating in extreme sports (like parachuting or hang-gliding) are typically NOT covered.  Check the individual policy for more details.

Evacuation Insurance Review
Some Sports or Risky Activities May NOT Be Covered, so Check the Fine Print Before You Travel!

Some plans will only cover you up to a certain age.  For example, a regular Medjet Assist membership is only available to folks under age 75.

Be sure to read the fine print for exclusions and age limits, and call the insurance company to verify your condition is covered!

Which Credit Cards Include Evacuation Insurance in Their Trip Coverage?

American Express Platinum Cards

Link:   The Platinum Card® from American Express

Link:   American Express® Mercedes-Benz Platinum

Link:   The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN

Link:   American Express Platinum Premium Global Assist Terms

These cards provide emergency medical transportation assistance to the card member or another covered family member (your spouse or domestic partner, dependent up to age 23, or age 26 if full-time student) traveling on the same trip itinerary at no cost.

  • A Global Assist Hotline designated physician will determine both if such transport is medically necessary and whether you’ll be treated at more appropriate medical facility or to a hospital near your home
  • The event must be within the first 90 days of the trip and cannot be a pre-existing condition.  A pre-existing condition is any sickness, illness, or injury that has manifested itself, become acute, or was being treated in the 60-day period immediately prior to the start of a trip
  • Any costs for medical transport not authorized and arranged through the Premium Global Assist Hotline Program are solely the responsibility of the card member

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

Link:   Chase Sapphire Reserve

Link:   Chase Sapphire Reserve Guide to Benefits

With the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you’ll get up to $100,000 in emergency evacuation and transportation benefits for you or your immediate family (spouse and legally dependent children under age 18, or 25 if enrolled as a full-time student).

  • Must charge a portion of the cost, or the entire cost of a trip, to the card
  • Trip must be more than 5 days and less than 60 days, and must be more than 100 miles from your home.
  • The evacuation must be pre-approved by the benefit administrator in consultation with a legally licensed physician
  • No pre-existing condition exclusion
  • Does exclude adventure sports, travel for the purpose of obtaining medical treatment, care received in countries deemed unsafe by the government, and all sorts of other common sense clauses

Note:   Coverage is supplemental, which means you’ll be covered after any primary insurance you have.

Evacuation Insurance Review
Supplemental Coverage Means the Plan Will Only Pay for Amounts NOT Covered by Your Primary Insurance

Chase Ritz-Carlton Card

Link:   Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card

Link:   Chase Ritz-Carlton Guide to Benefits

This card offers up to $100,000 in emergency evacuation and transportation benefits to you or your immediate family (spouse and legally dependent children under age 18, or 25 if enrolled as a full-time student).

  • Must charge a portion of the cost, or the entire cost of a trip, to the card
  • Trip must be more than 5 days and less than 60 days, and must be more than 100 miles from your home.
  • The evacuation must be pre-approved by the benefit administrator in consultation with a legally licensed physician
  • No pre-existing condition exclusion
  • Does exclude adventure sports, travel for the purpose of obtaining medical treatment, care received in countries deemed unsafe by the government, and all sorts of other common sense clauses

Note:   Coverage is supplemental, which means you’ll be covered after any primary insurance you have.

Chase United Club Card

Link:   United MileagePlus® Club Card

Link:   Chase United Club Guide to Benefits

This card provides emergency evacuation and transportation if you or your immediate family (spouse and legally dependent children under age 18, or 25 if enrolled as a full-time student) are injured or become ill during your trip and it results in a necessary emergency evacuation.

  • Must charge a portion of the cost, or the entire cost of a trip, to the card
  • Trip must be more than 5 days and less than 60 days, and  must be more than 100 miles from your home
  • The evacuation must be pre-approved by the benefit administrator in consultation with a legally licensed physician
  • No coverage limit and no pre-existing condition exclusion
  • Does exclude adventure sports, travel for the purpose of obtaining medical treatment, care received in countries deemed unsafe by the government, and all sorts of other common sense clauses

Note:   Coverage is supplemental, which means you’ll be covered after any primary insurance you have.

Bottom Line

Although medical evacuations are rare, it’s worth considering medical evacuation insurance if you have pre-existing conditions, are traveling to remote areas, or are taking an extended trip.  It only takes one incident to cripple you financially.

Insure My Trip is a good starting point if you’re shopping for insurance.  Be sure to check for important exclusions and limitations before you purchase a policy, especially if you’re elderly or have a pre-existing condition.

And remember, you may already be covered by your own insurance plan.  Or if you use certain cards like the American Express Platinum, Chase Ritz-Carlton, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Chase United Club.

Thanks to readers JB and Liz for suggesting this topic!

If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 25,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

4comments

by Newest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

If you want total control of where you go,without a doctor approval, Medjet is the only sevice that will do that. If you need to get to a US hospital from overseas, they will fly you commercial or private if nothing is available with medical personnel. I always use them but thankfully never used their service.

Million Mile Secrets

Glad to hear you’ve never had to use the service. But I’m sure the peace of mind makes it worth it.

Janice Schacter Lintz

In my opinion, Amex Platinum is a no-brainer and makes the card invaluable. You don’t even need to charge the trip on Amex. See my article on additional questions you should ask before making a decision. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/janice-s-lintz/do-you-have-the-medical-e_b_6886954.html

Million Mile Secrets

Agreed!