YOU ASK:

What happens when there is an emergency and I need medical evacuation? Will my travel insurance cover this?

WE ANSWER:

The answer is, it depends on your policy. The emergency medical evacuation benefit is really optional. It's not usually covered by standard travel insurance policies. It is more often than not added as an option. To know for sure, you should read your travel insurance policy to determine whether this is included.

When you are traveling to a place where the hospitals are not as equipped as you would want, it is best to consider buying medical evacuation insurance.

You may think that they are rarely needed (as it is only necessary for very serious and life-threatening situations), but if something happens to you, this benefit will come in handy. You may need to be transported by ambulance or helicopter. You may need to charter a private plane or book a number of seats on a commercial flight. There may also be a need to bring a loved one or a companion to the sick or injured patient's side. And it will really cost you a pretty penny - reaching up to $50,000 or more. When you have to shell this amount out of your own pocket, it can be a nightmare, especially if you don't have that kind of money to begin with.

Medicare, as well as most HMOs and PPOs, do not cover or will inadequately cover for medical evacuation, particularly if you are outside your home country. With emergency medical evacuation as part of your travel insurance, you can avail of medical transportation that will bring you to the nearest hospital and, if needed, to your home country. When you are brought to a hospital that cannot provide suitable treatment, you will first be stabilized before you are transported further.

Mind you, this benefit is only for medical transport, but this will not include the cost of medical treatment - that will be for another benefit that is part of the medical cover component of your travel insurance plan.

This benefit usually does not exclude pre-existing conditions. However, there are some areas that are excluded from the cover. It is best to check your policies for its terms and conditions regarding this benefit.

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