By John Gobbels
30-Year Health and Public Safety Expert / Chief Operating Officer of Medjet
Despite the current geopolitical tensions in Europe, and the emergence of BA.2 (the newest Omicron variant) in the news, many people will nonetheless be heading out on spring and summer travel abroad. If there’s one thing the pandemic taught us, it was the value of travel insurance, especially “Cancel for Any Reason” insurance (commonly known as CFAR) and medical coverage. But is additional travel protection necessary?
Air medical transport and travel security memberships have been receiving a lot of attention in the media lately, are they really worth the extra cost? For most travel experts, the answer is an emphatic “yes.”
Travel Insurance Has Limitations
Travel insurance is important. The best will cover a good chunk of money back should you not be able (or feel safe enough) to go on the trip. It will cover trip interruption (extra hotel nights if you get delayed, or test positive for your return), medical expenses should you become ill or have an accident, and medical evacuation should you require medevac to the nearest hospital capable of treating you. But even with the best policies, that’s likely where you’ll stay.
You should always read the fine print in your travel insurance plan because the medical coverage is always limited to some extent. Medical treatment costs are capped at a certain dollar amount, transfer by air ambulance to a hospital at home (“repatriation”) is typically only done if “medically necessary”, and “hospital of choice” is frequently misread as “hospital of choice at home” (but really only means hospital of choice in the city you’re currently in).
Membership in a medical transport program like Medjet is affordable, and gives travelers greater control over where they receive medical care. Getting moved to a hospital at home becomes your choice, not left up to an insurance company to determine whether the current facility is “adequate” or not, and whether moving you is “medically necessary”. As medical professionals, you also understand the importance of getting back into a system of care you trust, and back under the higher limits of your own health insurance coverage.
Should you incur treatment costs above covered limits, or desire services not covered, the financial responsibility lies with you alone. A serious injury can quickly turn into a serious out-of-pocket bill, and a single medical transport to get moved home can range from $30,000 (domestic) to $180,000 (international).
Compared to a $99 Medjet membership, you begin to see why so many experts recommend this additional protection.
Security Threats Abroad
While tensions in Europe obviously have travelers nervous, violent crime is also on the rise globally. The pandemic stressed many economies, but perhaps the hardest hit were countries whose economies relied heavily on tourism. Crime has always been present in tourist destinations, but since the pandemic the U.S. Department of State’s Travel Advisory system has shown elevated security warnings for many areas typically thought of as “very safe”.
Medjet’s elevated membership, MedjetHorizon, adds a 24/7 security response line benefit, with in-country response to a wide variety of safety threats: Terrorism, political threat, violent crime, disappearance, kidnap for ransom, natural disaster and more. While travel insurance may also cover some security evacuations, they typically wait for the government to officially issue a mandate to evacuate, which puts you in the same last-minute scramble to get out as everyone else. MedjetHorizon members have access to security responses any time they begin to feel threatened.
It’s Not Just For “Dangerous” Travel
Travelers often dismiss the idea of getting a supplemental travel protection because they aren’t planning excursions like cage diving with sharks or participating in events like Spain’s annual Running With the Bulls. The extra protection doesn’t seem necessary if they’re just sightseeing. In reality, unexpected injuries and emergencies can happen at any time, and to anyone, not just people who are going on potentially “dangerous excursions” or participating in extreme sports or activities. If those types of activities ARE in your travel agenda, again, read the limitations of your insurance policy because many won’t cover injuries sustained while doing them. Medjet has no “adventure travel” exclusions (and no pre-existing condition exclusions under age 75).
Accidents Happen Close to Home Too
An added bonus of being an annual Medjet member is that it covers domestic travel as well, any time you venture more than 150 miles from home. Most of our members buy our protection for the “big international trip” but many of our transports each year end up being for accidents like a slip and fall at a wedding, or a serious illness landing a member in a hospital just a few states away. Right now, we’re inundated with spring skiing accidents and summer will likely bring its typical heavy load of downed motorcycle transports. People don’t think about our program for domestic travel because most health insurance covers emergency treatment in other states. But it can be just as unsettling to be stuck in an unfamiliar hospital a few states away as it is to be stuck in one halfway around the world.
TIA members receive discounts on annual Medjet Memberships by using the link Medjet.com/TIA, or by calling 800-527-7478 and mentioning Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA).