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The Real Cost of Emergency Medical Transportation (and What Travel Insurance Covers)

Emergency Medical Transportation Costs
Allianz - Emergency Medical Transportation Costs

When you’re buying a travel insurance plan, one number always jumps out: the emergency medical transportation benefit (which some call medical evacuation insurance). The benefit limit can be as high as $500,000 or $1 million, depending on which plan you choose.

Travelers sometimes wonder why these limits are so high. The answer is that emergency medical transportation overseas can be extremely expensive — and most of the time, it’s not covered by your regular health insurance plan. Allianz Travel Insurance can cover the costs (up to the limits in your plan), ensure you get the high-quality medical care you need, and bring you safely home.

How does emergency medical transportation work?

If you’re traveling overseas and you suffer an illness or injury that’s serious enough to need immediate, emergency treatment, the first thing you should do is call local emergency services. Notice we didn’t say “call 911”; every country has its own emergency numbers. The best way to make sure you can get help in a hurry is to download the free Allyz® TravelSmart app before you go. The app makes it easy to call the right emergency number, no matter where you are in the world.

The very next thing you need to do is  contact 24-hour Assistance.

  • When you’re traveling overseas, you can call collect from anywhere in the world: 1-804-281-5700.
  • From the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, call this number toll free: 1-800-654-1908.
  • Or, open the app and hit the button for the TravelSmart hotline.

A dedicated member of our Assistance team, based in Richmond, Va., will review your case and immediately leap into action. Your Assistance coordinator will contact the medical provider who’s treating you to obtain your medical records, treatment authorizations and billing information.

That information is reviewed by our doctors, who will discuss your case with the medical officer in charge of your treatment and determine the best course of action. The main question they consider is, “Does the local hospital have the capabilities to treat our customer like they would be treated in the United States?”

  • If the answer is yes, you can continue to receive treatment at the local medical facility. Your Assistance coordinator will continue to manage your case, arrange payment, check on your status, and make arrangements to transport you home once you’re stable.
  • If the answer is no, then our team arranges emergency medical transportation to the nearest appropriate medical facility. This could be in a nearby city or a different country. Wherever it is, we’ll get you there as quickly as we can.

How much does emergency medical transportation cost?

Every situation is different. The cost of a medevac flight or ambulance depends on where you’re located, what resources are available, the severity of your medical emergency and the location of the nearest medical facility that can treat you. That being said, emergency medical transportation is never cheap. To provide a few examples:

  • You’re in the middle of dinner on a Caribbean cruise when you suffer a stroke. To ensure you get the care you need, you need a medical evacuation from the ship (or from port) to a hospital in Florida. Possible cost: Around $20,000.
  • You’re trekking in the Upper Mustang, a remote part of Nepal, when you fall down a steep slope and fracture your hip. You’ll need a medevac helicopter to carry you to safety and get you to the nearest high-quality hospital. Possible cost: $150,000-$200,000, or more.

Keep in mind that these estimates are just the cost of transporting you to the hospital — not treating you. (The emergency medical benefits in your travel insurance plan can cover the treatment you receive for a covered serious illness or injury, up to your plan limits.) If you’re in an extremely remote area, or if your injuries are particularly severe, these costs could double or triple.

Your emergency transportation benefits can pay for a friend or family member to travel to your bedside, if you’ll be hospitalized for more than seven days. And if you’re traveling with children under 18 or dependents who need your full-time supervision, and you’re hospitalized for more than 24 hours during your trip, we can arrange to safely transport your dependents back to your home or to a U.S. location of your choice.

Emergency transportation benefits also can cover the cost of getting you home on a commercial flight following a covered injury or illness. Depending on your condition, you may travel home with a medical escort, called a stretcher flight. The nurse escorting you can administer an IV or oxygen and monitor your condition. This can cost $25,000-$30,000, on average, plus the cost of purchasing eight seats on the flight (to accommodate the stretcher). If you require an air ambulance, it can cost up to $50,000.

What’s the best travel insurance with emergency transportation benefits?

If you’re a frequent traveler who’s planning two or more trips in the next 12 months, your best choice may be an AllTrips annual travel insurance plan. The AllTrips Executive Plan covers you for multiple trips over 365 days and includes up to $250,000 in emergency transportation benefits. AllTrips Premier doubles that limit to $500,000.

If you’re traveling to a remote area or a developing nation, it may be wise to protect yourself with the highest level of coverage: the OneTrip Premier Plan, which includes up to $1,000,000 in emergency transportation benefits.

If you’re on a budget, consider OneTrip Basic. This affordable plan includes all the key benefits you need, including up to $50,000 in emergency transportation benefits.

No matter which plan you choose, make sure you purchase it as soon as possible — don’t wait until the last minute. Read your plan documents (and keep them with you) so you can be confident you understand how your benefits work. Questions? We’re here 24-7 — just ask.

Find our why more than 70 million American travelers each year trust Allianz Travel Insurance to keep them safe. Get a quote today!

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May 09, 2023