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Table of Contents
- Who should buy emergency evacuation insurance?
- Does my credit card come with emergency evacuation coverage?
- How to buy emergency evacuation insurance
- How much does emergency evacuation insurance cost?
- How to choose a travel insurance provider
- How does emergency evacuation insurance work?
- Is emergency evacuation insurance worth it?
- If you’re considering emergency evacuation insurance
You’re hiking in a remote region of South America, 100 miles from the nearest hospital. You fall. You’re hurt. An emergency evacuation helicopter picks you up and delivers you to the help you need. Then comes the bill: It’s $100,000. The same scenario in parts of the Middle East could cost nearly a quarter of a million dollars. Even in Europe or Mexico, the tab could be well into five figures, according to travel insurer Allianz Travel.
Any world adventurer heading to a remote travel destination or someplace with poor medical facilities should consider purchasing emergency evacuation insurance. Here’s everything you need to know to decide whether you need this coverage.
Who should buy emergency evacuation insurance?
If you have a medical emergency while touring the museums of New York City or visiting Disneyland, you won’t need a six-figure helicopter ride to get you to a hospital; there are plenty close by. But if you’re heading someplace remote, far from high-quality medical care, that’s when emergency evacuation insurance can be a lifesaver.
Check with your health insurer to find out whether your policy covers this service, especially out of the country. But chances are it does not adequately cover emergency air transport when you’re traveling abroad. In that case, you may want to buy a travel insurance policy with emergency medical evacuation benefits.
» Learn more: How to find the best travel insurance
Does my credit card come with emergency evacuation coverage?
A lot of credit cards include trip cancellation or interruption coverage, but that doesn’t mean they pay for emergency medical evacuation. Some cards do, but the coverage is probably lower than you’d get if you purchased a separate travel insurance policy.
» Learn more: The best travel credit cards right now
For example, if you pay for your trip using the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, your emergency evacuation benefits may cover up to $100,000 — significantly less than the $1 million offered by some travel insurers. Read your card benefits carefully. Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders can find card benefits information, including emergency evacuation coverage, here.
» Learn more: Credit cards that come with travel insurance
How to buy emergency evacuation insurance
Emergency evacuation insurance comes with certain travel insurance policies, meaning you have to buy the whole bundle of coverages. Travel insurance usually includes benefits like trip cancellation, lost baggage and medical expenses. Many policies also include emergency evacuation benefits.
How much does emergency evacuation insurance cost?
The price of your travel insurance policy will vary based on:
Where you’re going.
When you are traveling.
How much you paid for your trip.
Where you live.
Your age and other variables.
The only way to know the cost is to get an online quote. To ballpark it, we got a quote from two insurers using a hypothetical seven-day trip to Peru in September 2023 costing $8,000 for a 35-year-old who lives in California.
John Hancock Travel offered a choice of three plans. The lowest-priced plan cost $422 and included $250,000 of emergency evacuation and repatriation coverage (that covers the cost of returning your remains to your home country if you die while traveling). At the other end of the price spectrum, the Gold Plan cost $545 and included $1 million in emergency transportation benefits.
Travelguard.com quoted this same Peru trip at $604 for its best policy, which includes $1 million coverage for emergency transport. Travel Guard’s most affordable policy cost $488 and included $150,000 emergency evacuation coverage.
Both policies included a lot of coverages besides emergency evacuation, and the policies had many differences. So depending on your insurance needs, that $604 plan from Travel Guard could be a better value than the $545 plan through John Hancock — or not.
Spend some time reading all the coverages to see which plan works best for you.
How to choose a travel insurance provider
One of the best-known names in travel insurance is probably Allianz Travel. But don’t overlook its many competitors. Other well-ranked insurers offering emergency evacuation coverage include:
Most of these companies make it easy to get a quote from their website. Compare at least three, if not more, and look carefully at the coverages included for the quoted price.
How does emergency evacuation insurance work?
Although emergency transportation benefits come as part of a larger travel insurance policy, it may not work the same as other coverages in your policy. For example, if you buy travel insurance from Allianz and something goes wrong with your trip, you might pay certain costs out of pocket and then file a claim for reimbursement.
But with six-figure emergency evacuation assistance, paying upfront is a lot less practical. So in certain cases, Allianz pays the emergency medical transportation provider for you. When you’re shopping around, ask travel insurance providers if their emergency transportation coverage works the same way.
Is emergency evacuation insurance worth it?
No matter the type, insurance is only worthwhile if the financial risk you’re mitigating justifies the amount you pay in premiums and other out-of-pocket costs. For example, if your health insurer gives you $500 of coverage for eyeglasses if you add an extra $50 a month to your premium, you’d have to file a $500 claim every 10 months to break even.
Emergency evacuation insurance more than meets this standard. A $100,000 or $200,000 bill for emergency medical transportation is more than most travelers could pay out of pocket. So even though the risk that you’ll need a medical helicopter ride is low, a few hundred dollars for travel insurance with good emergency evacuation coverage could be well worth the money.
If you’re considering emergency evacuation insurance
Check with your health care insurer and the issuer of the credit card you’ll use to pay for your trip. If those offer inadequate coverage, get online quotes from multiple travel insurance companies. Carefully consider not just costs but the full menu of coverage each policy provides. Then, safe travels!
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card