Emergency Travel Medical Assistance – Travel Insurance’s Hero Element

February 15, 2024

When would you ever possibly need to be repatriated from a holiday and require emergency travel medical assistance? Surely you would never require the services of an air ambulance, to get you from A to B – that being from a point of great distress, to a hospital that could offer you necessary care or speciality treatment?

The answer is that we at Europesure Travel Insurance do not have a crystal ball and neither do you.  There is simply no knowing when you might need to call upon this sort of medical emergency assistance during your holiday or trip.  

To help focus on this, we have taken a look at some reported cases in which holidaymakers have needed specialist help of this kind, which featured in the ITIJ Assistance and Repatriation Review supplement, October 2023.  This might just prove that anybody can suffer an unexpected incident that leaves them medically vulnerable.  It should also highlight why arranging this sort of assistance is something you could not do yourself.  

It requires the in-built assistance that comes with your single trip travel insurance policy or your annual multi trip policy.  Whilst these media-reported cases were not our customers, our medical assistance specialists handle similar incidents on an ongoing basis.  

Assistance during a safari

In one scenario, a female traveller suffered a foot issue, whilst on safari and required surgery and physiotherapy, before the medical problem could be rectified.  As she was in the middle of the savannah at the time the issue arose, that presented a real challenge.  National parks in Africa only have dirt airstrips and planes can only operate in daylight.  The air ambulance had to also check that no wild animals were present, before landing.  The traveller was driven to the dust strip by hotel staff and then put on a stretcher, before entering the plane.  She was flown to an airport where an ambulance was already waiting for her transfer to a hospital.  The operation and physiotherapy was all arranged for her, before she was discharged and flown home, accompanied by medical experts.

Fractured foot in Italy

Fracturing a foot in a remote village in Italy is not the best idea, with no local facilities available for the traveller who suffered this medical emergency.  In this reported case, the insured had to be taken, along with her travelling companion, to Geneva, where treatment could be provided.  All arrangements were made for her, with assistance laid on at airports, as well as in-flight.  Hotel options in Geneva were also provided.

Pelvic fracture after a fall

In this case, the insured found themselves requiring complex surgery in a US hospital, eight days after initially being admitted.  In just one day, the medical costs rose to almost $22,000, proving how essential travel insurance protection can be when it comes to emergency medical costs.  The traveller also required special return flights and airport transfers after surgery and benefited from much logistical assistance, to eventually get home.

Early birth in remote part of Colombia

A pregnant traveller went into early labour whilst stranded in a remote part of Colombia. A helicopter was dispatched to airlift her out and provide her with the medical assistance she and the baby required.

Altitude sickness in the Himalayas

Here, an assistance team reportedly had to offer in-depth help, to remotely co-ordinate the descent of a traveller back to their Himalayan base camp, using porters, sherpas and specialists. Having monitored the traveller’s condition continually, an evacuation to Kathmandu was arranged, with an ambulance waiting at the airport to collect the patient, who was suffering both altitude sickness and pneumonia.  Life-saving medical care was provided and the fast action that came from being able to immediately call on the medical assistance team and facility was crucial.

Neurological issue in Colombia

When a traveller suffered a neurological crisis in Bogota, the patient’s family wanted her returned to the UK for surgery.  The medical assistance team stepped in and explained it was too high a risk to fly her back to the UK.   They instead carried out in-depth research to identify a neurological specialist who could safely perform surgery locally.  The patient was then supported during months of recuperation, before returning home.

Repatriation by cruise ship

Our final example was a reported case of a traveller who experienced serious lung problems whilst overseas.  Returning by air was not possible, in the judgement of the medical assistance team who were contacted for help. They, therefore, arranged the patient’s return by booking a place for her and three nurses on a cruise ship.  

This highlighted how travel insurance does not just provide a financial safety net but also a lifeline of support, from professionals who have a deep understanding of medical logistics and who are equipped with the contacts and the means to meticulously plan a repatriation.  The patient also had the peace of mind of having medical staff travelling with her, as well as the companionship this provided.

The true importance of travel insurance 

All of these examples paint a picture of not just how important travel insurance is as a means of covering medical costs overseas but what an asset it is as a route to accessing the right professional help.  That could be a team that can plan the logistics of a journey that requires certain medical equipment or a medical team to be provided.  It could equally be linguistic support and liaising with a team of doctors who do not speak the patient’s language.  

It might mean ensuring that a travelling companion is taken care of, whilst a patient undergoes treatment.  It could mean liaising with a patient’s family at home.  

It almost certainly involves trying to ensure the traveller has the right medical decisions taken on their behalf, for their individual circumstances.  It pretty much always facilitates a much swifter response to a scenario than a traveller or their family could engineer alone.  In many cases, they simply would not be able to arrange the necessary treatments, transportation and medical assistance themselves, let alone afford to do so.

Travel insurance for British, EU, EEA and other European travellers

Here at Europesure Travel Insurance (www.europesuretravelinsurance.com) we hope this answers any doubts you may have about the value of travel insurance.  We trust it shows that, even if you depart for an overseas trip in good health, anything can happen.

To make sure you are not stranded on a mountainside, in a remote area, or even in a popular holiday resort from which you simply cannot get home for medical care or following medical treatment or surgery, pack yourself a travel insurance policy.  It can do more for you than you can possibly imagine.

With options available at www.europesuretravelinsurance.com to suit your budget and avoid duplicating other possible elements of cover that you may have on other policies, such as your home insurance policy, there’s no excuse not to pocket a policy today.

Sources:

ITIJ Assistance & Repatriation Review, October 2023

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These travel insurance products are brought to you by Europesure Insurance. For EU and EEA policies: Status Europesure Insurance Cyprus is a trading name of Status Insurance Agents, Sub-Agents and Consultants CY Ltd which is authorised and regulated by the Insurance Companies Control Service in Cyprus, number 5015. Incorporated in Cyprus, Number HE394801: 5 Rafael Santi, 1st Floor, Office 101, 6052 Larnaca, Cyprus. Status Insurance Agents, Sub-Agents and Consultants CY Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Status Insurance Management Ltd. For UK and Gibraltar policies, Europesure Insurance is a trading name of Status Insurance Management Ltd which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK. Their FCA number is 305697. Registered in England Number 1785590: First Floor, Jebsen House, 53-61 High Street, Ruislip, Middlesex, HA4 7BD.
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