One of the most expensive components for any travel insurance claim is a Medical Evacuation, and in the unfortunate event that you or anyone in your party requires one, most insurance companies will look into every contributing factor in order to reject a claim that requires one.
Medical evacuation while travelling round the world can be a daunting prospect, but it is important to be prepared for the worst. Medical evacuation insurance can provide you with the peace of mind that you will be able to get the treatment you need in the event of an accident or illness. The cost of medical evacuation can be high, so it is important to make sure that you are covered by a policy that meets your needs. When choosing a policy, consider the regions you will be travelling to, the activities you will be undertaking and the length of time you will be away. With the right policy in place, you can enjoy your round the world trip safe in the knowledge that you are covered should anything go wrong.
#1 Important Factor – Alcohol in your system may result in your claim being denied (please read the fine print of your policy, it’s long, but worth it)
1: YOU DON’T NEED TO BE SERIOUSLY INJURED TO REQUIRE AN MEDICAL EVACUATION.
In places like Vietnam, Laos, Mongolia and many Pacific Island nations, even apparently routine problems can lead to emergency evacuation. Some locations these is done by the military and their pricing can be sky high.
2: EMERGENCY MEDICAL EVACUATIONS RARELY HAPPEN INSTANTLY
The insurers’ assistance company, your first point of contact during a medical emergency, needs to balance the patient’s needs against the underwriters’ desire to control costs. Both underwriters and assistance companies work 24/7 but negotiations do take time.
3: AIRCRAFT COMPANIES NEED MONEY UPFRONT
No air charter company will send a helicopter, let alone a plane, without a solid “guarantee of payment” in place from your insurers (or cash or credit card if you’ve been unwise enough to travel without insurance).
4: LOGISTICS ARE INSANELY COMPLICATED
Even for an emergency helicopter evac within a single country, the nearest helicopter needs to be found, the medical team, equipment and crew need to get to the helicopter, and a flight plan, often including refuelling, needs to be agreed.
5: MOST OF THE TIME, THE PATIENT NEEDS TO BE “FIT TO FLY”
With most medical evacuations, a medical professional will need to certify that the victim is “fit to fly”: in an emergency mountain rescue situation, the rules are less strict.
6: MOST HELICOPTERS DON’T FLY AT NIGHT
Most helicopters are not allowed to fly at night. So unless an emergency happens early in the day or near the helicopter base, you are likely to have to wait until morning.
7: INTERNATIONAL EMERGENCY EVACS TAKE DAYS
International air ambulances are not designed to rush victims to the nearest hospital. They are intended to transport patients whose condition is stable – be that conscious with a broken leg or in a coma on a ventilator – from one medical facility to another.
8: AIR AMBULANCES ARE NOT WELL-EQUIPPED
Air ambulances are lightly customised private jets, not flying hospitals. They don’t have operating theatres, MRI scanners, blood banks or pharmacies and they can’t just set down at the nearest airport if something goes wrong.
9: SERIOUSLY INJURED PATIENTS MAY END UP IN THE NEAREST PUBLIC TRAUMA HOSPITAL
Because of the “fit to fly” rule, the ultimate treatment option in a developing country may be the best public trauma hospital in the capital. If you survive, once you’re stable, you can then be moved internationally for treatment.
10: INTERNATIONAL AIR AMBULANCES TAKE AEONS TO ARRANGE
International air evacs are a logistical nightmare. A plane and team needs to be found, and a flight path has to be cleared through at least two, and sometimes several, countries. Medical crew need visas for the country where the patient is, the country where the patient is going and the country where they are meeting the air ambulance.
11: IT’S RARE FOR AN INTERNATIONAL AIR AMBULANCE TO LEAVE ON TIME
Even once the plane is signed off, last minute holdups are legion. Bad weather and customs inspections can delay a flight for hours, as can plain old paranoia, like the air ambulance that left Tel Aviv for Addis Ababa only to sit on the runway for five hours because the Ethiopians decided the patient must be an Israeli spy