Aeroplane in the clouds

If in doubt - make sure you can get out!

PUBLISHED: 27 August 2018 | LAST UPDATED: 9 October 2023

Adjusting to life abroad can be difficult at the best of times, but if you fall ill, it can be even harder– especially if you find yourself in a medical emergency. You’ll have plenty of things to think about during your move, whether that’s learning a new language or how to access the local medical facilities, so take one thing off your list and make sure you’re covered in an emergency. Include evacuation cover in your international medical insurance. 

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How it works

In principle, medical evacuation is a pretty straightforward benefit. If you have an accident or need emergency medical help and the right facilities aren’t available where you are, it covers the cost of transporting you to another hospital where you can get the treatment you need. This might be in a nearby town or city, or a completely different country.

Each case is different, so how the evacuation is carried out depends on your location, your medical condition and where you need to get to. Assuming your condition is stable, it’s likely to involve a taxi and a commercial flight – usually with a first class ticket or an additional seat to make the journey as comfortable as possible. If your condition is more serious, any flights might need to include an intensive care unit (ICU) with specialist medical equipment.

Lufthansa is one of the very few International airlines with an ICU facility on regularly scheduled flights and when available, this tends to be the preferred option in medical emergencies. But there are obvious restrictions in terms of flight times and destinations, so it isn’t always a practical solution.

The alternative is to arrange an air ambulance, which as the name suggests, is a small plane or helicopter with state-of-the art medical facilities. Although this is a more expensive option, it offers a great deal of flexibility and can also be used for non-emergency evacuations in remote areas where there are no commercial flights.

The costs of medical evacuation and repatriation aren’t cheap, and on top of the medical bills for your treatment, can soon add up. 

Don't take any chances

When it comes to your health, you can’t predict what’s around the corner – but you can be prepared. 

Not all insurers include medical evacuation insurance as part of their International Private Medical Insurance plans, but you can usually add it as an optional extra. If it’s something you’ve overlooked in the past, it’s worth speaking to your insurer to see if they will upgrade your cover outside of your policy renewal dates. 

The information in this article is correct at the time of publishing.