Emergency Evacuation Coverage

Looking for the most complete emergency evacuation coverage—overseas and at home? Specialized emergency evacuation memberships are often overlooked, but they offer many advantages. Here’s what you need to know.


As you prepare for your next trip, the last thing you want to think about is a hospital visit overseas—especially one requiring a medical evacuation.

But a medical emergency isn’t the only factor that could prompt a sudden, costly evacuation back home. Natural disasters…political unrest…even terror attacks—these aren’t fun things to think about, but they’re all reasons travelers around the world find themselves frantically needing to ‘pack up, and get out’ as quickly as possible.

Without coverage in place, an emergency evacuation could cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket. Even WITH coverage in place, you may still be left with big bills to pay—if you don’t have the right TYPE of coverage.

So, what if you could travel both domestically and overseas knowing you’re protected both personally and financially—even in the worst-case scenarios?

Specialized emergency evacuation service providers offer surprisingly affordable membership programs. More importantly, they can save you from life-altering costs when other coverage might not—and maybe even save your life.


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Emergency evacuation coverage? Yeah, I’ve got travel insurance.

On the long list of resources travelers use to protect their trips & themselves, emergency evacuation coverage is one of the most misunderstood.

Though they’re often mistaken for one another, travel insurance and emergency evacuation coverage are not the same thing. In reality:

  • They are more different than you may think…
  • They do not replace one another (this is not an “either/or” situation)
  • In fact, you may find the most value (and peace of mind) when combining their powers together.

At the highest level, the distinction is best explained with this table:

Protection: TRAVEL INSURANCE SPECIALIZED EMERGENCY EVACUATION SERVICES
Purpose: Protect you from financial loss that may result from canceled trips, travel delays, lost baggage, and medical expenses. Rescue & transport you to life-saving medical care that may not be available where you’re traveling; transport you safely away from danger.
Location of coverage: Abroad Abroad & at home
Coverage secured by: Purchasing a policy Enrolling in a membership

Worst-case scenario → best possible outcome

The vast majority of travelers who protect themselves with emergency evacuation coverage, do so by purchasing either:

  1. A travel insurance policy that includes some form of emergency evacuation coverage
  2. A specialized emergency evacuation services membership

Many assume option #1 “covers everything” while traveling overseas. Sadly, some come to realize that it does NOT, when they get hit with a huge bill. Meanwhile, option #2 may offer more complete coverage, worldwide.

However, this is not to say that an emergency evacuation membership is all you need before traveling overseas. While these memberships do improve upon certain limitations of travel insurance, they do not replace all the benefits.

Instead, these memberships complement travel insurance. So, for the best combination of coverage worldwide, millions of travelers buy both.

Important benefit distinction: “medical expenses” vs. “emergency evacuation”

Travel insurance policies often include five- or six-figure limits to cover medical expenses. This offers peace of mind, in case you get sick, injured, or otherwise need medical attention overseas.

However, look at the fine print, and you’ll likely find the cost of medical care abroad is separate from the cost of being air-lifted back to your home country for continued medical care.

In other words: coverage for medical expenses is not the same as coverage for emergency medical evacuations.

Cost of emergency evacuation services

Medical evacuation and transport costs can be anywhere from $25,000 to $250,000 (or more). Cost-driving factors include:

  • Where you are in the world
  • Where you need to get back to
  • The severity of your illness or injury
  • Personnel required to rescue you
  • Vehicles required to evacuate you

Guess what? You can avoid paying all these costs. You just need to be enrolled with the right emergency evacuation service provider.

These memberships are surprisingly affordable: starting at $119 for a 7-day trip or $329 for a full year of coverage. This represents—quite possibly—the highest benefit vs. cost ratio that exists in the world of travel protection.

Would you pay $119 today in order to NOT pay $25,000 after a one-week trip? How about $329 up front in order to avoid a surprise $100,000 bill sometime in the next 12 months?

Types of emergency evacuation services

Often-overlooked fact: medical care is just one of several reasons travelers may require an emergency evacuation.

In general, emergency evacuation can be broken down into three types of services:

  1. MEDICAL EVACUATION — consists of two segments: field rescue and medical transportation.
    • Field rescue — evacuation from point of injury or illness to a medical location that provides diagnosis & stabilizing care.
      • Best-case scenario: you’re able to transport yourself.
      • Worst-case scenario: a team of specialists are deployed to locate you in a remote area & transport you to the nearest hospital via helicopter.
    • Medical transportation — transfer between facilities: the hospital you first arrive (wherever you are in the world) → your home hospital.
      • Best-case scenario: you’re able to fly home on a commercial aircraft.
      • Worst-case scenario: urgent transport back to your home country via private air ambulance.
  2. NON-MEDICAL EVACUATION — transport from danger → nearest place of safety. Examples: natural disasters; terrorist attacks; civil/political unrest.
  3. REPATRIATION OF REMAINS — transporting a traveler’s remains back home.

The right emergency evacuation membership will deliver all of these services—and cover the associated costs.

On the other hand, the type of emergency evacuation coverage you can expect from travel insurance varies greatly between providers & policies.

Overseas travel: emergency evacuations & travel insurance

Some travel insurance policies don’t include emergency evacuation coverage at all. Others offer only partial coverage. Here are two examples (refer to the previous section for clarity):

  • INCOMPLETE medical evacuation coverage — you MAY be reimbursed for medical transportation but NOT field rescue.
  • LACK of non-medical evacuation coverage — many policies DO NOT cover some (or any) of these events.

Suffering a life-threatening injury or being at the epicenter of an earthquake is not the time to be asking “does my travel insurance cover this?” So, if you’re going to rely on travel insurance for emergency evacuation coverage, it’s important to carefully read your policy’s wording for a full description of coverage—particularly what’s included vs. excluded.

Domestic travel: emergency evacuations & personal health insurance

Accidents and emergencies can happen anywhere and at any time—at home or abroad. So, what happens if you suffer an injury while traveling domestically, and require a medical evacuation?

Does your health insurance cover the cost of air transport to your home hospital? What about your homeowner’s insurance? If in doubt, ask your providers for details.

With the right emergency evacuation membership in place, you don’t need to be overseas to take advantage of the benefits—you just need to be more than 100 miles from home.

The membership model: personal rationale

You’ve seen the financial rationale for emergency evacuation coverage. Now, here are a few more reasons to enroll in a membership for this coverage:

  • Do you have serious underlying health issues?
  • Do you find yourself traveling to extremely remote locations?
  • Are you a frequent extreme/adventure traveler, both domestically and overseas?

In any of these cases, suitable care may not be close by if you need it. Or, the nearest available care may not be able to address your particular medical needs. The membership model protects you from these possibilities.

The membership model: provider advantages

These memberships offer simplicity, peace of mind, and more complete coverage than most travel insurance policies. Again, we’re talking about emergency evacuation services specifically.

  • All services included — medical & non-medical events…evacuation & transportation…it’s all covered.
  • Getting home — costs & logistics are covered from the point of injury (field rescue) → a local treatment facility → your chosen facility.
  • Hospital of choice — you decide where you’ll be treated back home, as opposed to an insurance company sending you to the “nearest acceptable facility.”
  • Cost structure — the membership provider pays for services rendered. With an insurance policy, you’ll pay for many of these costs up front, then wait for insurance reimbursement.
  • Claims process — because the provider handles costs & logistics, you avoid time-consuming paperwork & insurance reimbursement timelines.
  • Domestic travel — coverage applies, as long as you’re more than 100 miles from home.

Review: common coverage limitations worldwide

Let’s review some of the limitations travelers face overseas & at home, regarding medical expenses & emergency evacuations:

  • Health insurance WILL cover your medical expenses at home…but NOT overseas.
  • Meanwhile, travel insurance WILL cover your medical expenses overseas…but NOT at home.
  • Travel insurance MAY OR MAY NOT cover all necessary costs associated with emergency evacuations…both medical AND non-medical.
  • Specialized emergency services memberships WILL cover medical and non-medical transportation & evacuation costs, both at home & overseas…but will NOT cover your medical expenses anywhere.

Quite the tangled web they weave! So, where does that leave us?

Global Rescue logo black red

The most complete combination of coverage

Looking for the most complete combination of coverage overseas plus additional emergency benefits at home? Protect yourself & your trip with a specialized emergency evacuation membership (to cover both medical and non-medical emergency services costs worldwide) plus travel insurance to cover anything else that may go wrong (trip cancellation, travel delays, lost baggage, etc.).

Emergency evacuation services:

Medical and security emergencies happen. And when they do, over 1 million members—including the US Ski Team, NASA, and National Geographic—trust Global Rescue to get them home.

Since 2004, Global Rescue has been a leading provider of field rescue, medical evacuation, security extraction, travel risk management services, and virtual health services to enterprises, governments and individuals—worldwide. Memberships range from 7 days to 5 years, and have different options for individuals, families, students & seniors.

Your enrollment fee includes all the following benefits:

Global Rescue Memberships benefits summary, emergency evacuation coverage

Ready to purchase your emergency evacuation membership? Visit our Global Rescue partner page.

To learn more about Global Rescue Memberships, visit this page.

Travel insurance options:

1. Global Rescue — with the recent addition of Signature Travel Insurance (backed by IMG), Global Rescue is now a one-stop-shop for worldwide emergency evacuation coverage (memberships) and travel insurance (two plan options). To learn more, visit this page.

2. World Nomads — since 2018, we’ve used World Nomads to protect our trips overseas. Learn more, or generate a free quote, on this page.

3. Squaremouth — for additional options, use Squaremouth to research & compare policies from dozens of providers, all in one place.

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Expect the best. Prepare for the worst.

Emergency evacuation coverage is an investment in peace of mind. And, it’s a considerably low one, compared to the costs involved if you need to be rescued from a life-threatening situation.

Regardless of which option you choose, we hope you never find yourself needing to put these services to use.

Safe travels!

-DnA


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  • Check out our Resources page for some of the best trip-planning tools we use daily.

Disclosure: travelhelix belongs to the World Nomads Partner Program, Global Rescue Partner Program and Squaremouth Travel Partner Program. We do receive compensation if you purchase a travel insurance policy or enroll in an emergency evacuation services membership by clicking via the links on our website. If you’ve found this info useful and plan to purchase a policy, please consider booking through our site—thank you!

Disclaimer: The travel insurance information provided above is a brief summary only. It does not include all terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions and termination provisions of the travel insurance plans described. Coverage may not be available for residents of all countries, states or provinces. Please carefully read your policy wording for a full description of coverage.

Our company is not a licensed financial service provider, and is not certified to sell financial products or offer financial advice. The decision of whether or not to secure coverage is your own, as is the decision of which company to buy from. Should you wish to purchase travel insurance or emergency evacuation coverage via links on our website, such products or services will be governed by terms & conditions solely determined by the providers themselves. It is your responsibility to be fully acquainted with the terms & conditions regarding the use of these products or services prior to, and after, your purchase.

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