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Evacuation insurance vs out of pocket cost

How many times have we seen posts asking about travel insurance, specifically medical? Common response is to also look at a evacuation policy.

I bought an individual annual Medjet policy last year to cover September's trip and this June's trip. Fortunately I have not needed it. But I want to share cost savings from Medjet's May newletter. Unless you're too rich to care, it shows the necessity of covering evacuation costs regardless of which company you choose:

More Recent Medjet Transports
Melbourne, Australia ✈️ Joliet, IL $198,988 transport, $0 cost to member
Koror, Palau ✈️ Santa Cruz, California $161,789 transport, $0 cost to member
Florence, SC ✈️ Dallas, TX $22,789 transport, $0 cost to member
Key West, FL ✈️ Wilmington, NC $22,700 transport, $0 cost to member

To those who are reading about this for the first time, read the policy's fine print. Not all evacuation insurance is the same. Some only get you to the nearest medical center. Others, like Medjet, will get you to the hospital or town of your choice.

Posted by
4583 posts

Very interesting data points, thanks horsewoofie. If they happen to list any transports from Europe back to North America in future newsletters, I hope you'll come back and share those.

I just bought an annual policy with MedEvac (and Repatriation) benefits coverage at $100,000 per trip.

Posted by
11126 posts

A friend needed emergency transport back to AZ from Europe and did not have insurance. Paid $70,000 out of pocket.

Posted by
2622 posts

We ran into a man in Amsterdam last week. Wife fell and broke her hip on Day One of their trip. Needed surgery and pinning and all sorts of stuff. No medical or evacuation coverage. They are stranded in Amsterdam without a plan - her still in the hospital and him in a hotel. Terrible situation.

Posted by
8421 posts

What do Europeans visiting the US do?

My understanding is that a life-flight helicopter ambulance trip to a local hospital around here can cost $10K+, and is not always covered by insurance.

Posted by
27042 posts

I've definitely read of evacuation costs well over $100,000 from Europe back to the US. I assume how much medical staff is necessary on the flight has a major effect on the total cost. On the basis of that little bit of information (I have no direct knowledge), I wouldn't consider $100,000 adequate unless I planned to tap the equity in my condo to cover the excess, if necessary. Of course, the likelihood of needing to be evacuated is very low.

Posted by
4573 posts

For Galapagos Islands, even 10 years ago, I had to show proof of one million dollars evacuation coverage.
This past weekend, the Coast Guard had to evacuate 4 different people on 3 different ships for medical emergencies....primarily heart attack and stroke symptoms. In one case, a squall came in and almost downed one chopper, and another had to be sent out a couple of hours later when weather improved. Cruise evacuation insurance needs to be specific and at a high financial amount. Not everyone ensures it is properly covered.

Posted by
2169 posts

Note that if you're over 74 years old, you have to go through a rigamarole with Medjet.

Posted by
5638 posts

Europeans visiting the US would have a worldwide policy which specifically includes the US, Canada and Caribbean. Mine I think is £5 million medical insurance including Medivac home, or repatriation of my body if I die abroad.
I have an annual policy. This year it is for Europe only and costs about £60 for up to 180 days travel in the year.
A worldwide annual would be about twice that.
I wouldn't travel without it, although I am sure some do.
It has perks like an airport lounge if a flight is delayed.

Posted by
1394 posts

Someone recently posted their father-in-law was visiting a mountain area in Switzerland — I can’t recall where. but it wasn’t very remote at all. Well, he had a heart attack and the Swiss first- responders assessing his condition decided he should be evacuated by helicopter to get him to an urban hospital ASAP. After all was said and done ( the man survived) the complete tally for the ordeal —which also had him returning to the US sooner than he had planned—amounted to more than $200,000. Fortunately. his relatives demanded he have top-notch travel insurance for that trip which covered all expenses.

Posted by
10170 posts

Stan asked what Europeans do: they get insurance. With some group tours, it's mandatory. I see expats online asking what insurance to buy for a US visit.

Posted by
13899 posts

I assume how much medical staff is necessary on the flight has a major effect on the total cost.

Yes, the medical needs/level of care have a huge impact. A straight transfer of a stable patient is much less than transporting someone on a ventilator. You need specialized staff for a vent patient.

When I returned to travel in the Covid Era, for tge 1st trip I got 1 million of med evac. Now I’ve gone back to $500,000.

My career was as a hospital social worker and the last few years I was assigned to ICU where patients were often transferred to tertiary care facilities on an emergency basis. Just going a hundred miles could be $20,000-$50,000 depending on level of care needed.

Valerie, that is a sad story about the traveler with the hip fracture.