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Does All Travel Insurance Cover Air Ambulances?


When it comes to taking that much-needed holiday or travelling overseas for business, preparation is key. One of the most important parts of travelling to another country is travel insurance. But, like all insurance, it is one of those things that are not only begrudgingly bought, but highly misunderstood.

One of the most misunderstood elements of travel insurance is what exactly it covers. Will you be repatriated from the country you are visiting should something go wrong? Does all travel insurance cover an air ambulance? So, we thought we would answer some of those tough to answer questions and help bring some clarity on the subject. Let’s get stuck in

Does All Travel Insurance Cover Air Ambulance?
Let’s get straight to the point and ask the all important question. Will you be covered for an air ambulance should you fall ill or be in an accident?

So, the answer depends on the type of insurance you are taking out. The fact of the matter is that every single policy differs. They have different limits, they cover different amounts and they offer different services and solutions.

Now, this doesn’t differ from company to company, this differs from policy to policy. So, the cheaper the policy, the more likely you will not be covered for the extensive range of services, like an air ambulance.

If you are taking travel insurance offered through your credit card, for example, you will more than likely not have comprehensive insurance that covers everything.

What is Covered?
When taking out your travel insurance, no matter what company you are going through, it is crucial to check your policy. How much are you paying and what are you covered for? How much are you covered for?

In many cases, people take out insurance thinking that they will be fully covered for absolutely anything that goes wrong with R2-million coverage. But the fact of the matter is that health and medical bills in another country are astronomical. R2-million will not get you as much coverage as you expect.

In fact, a medical repatriation flight from Europe to South Africa usually costs in the vicinity of R2-million.

That essentially means that you can only cover your flight and not have anything left over for the actual treatment in the country you are visiting. Which, we may add, also comes at a hefty price.

What Do You Need to Look Out For?
Check that policy carefully before signing. There may be a lot of pages to go through, but should you be in a situation that you have not expected, knowing what you are covered for is crucial. And, things can happen when travelling. From slipping in the shower to falling down stairs, or off a balcony, accidents happen.

Here is what you need to check:
•    How much you are covered?
•    Does repatriation and air ambulance fall within the spectrum?
•    What are the exclusions?

This is an important part of the policy to look out for. Pre-existing conditions are very common exclusions in travel insurance, and you may not be covered. So, if you have a heart condition or diabetes that you have not disclosed, this may impact receiving the necessary care.

What are the Processes of Getting an Air Ambulance?
So, you have signed the right insurance, are on your travels and something happens. What then?

Firstly, your case will need to be deemed medically necessary to be repatriated.

Medically necessary refers to the “care needed to prevent, diagnose, or treat an illness, injury, condition, or disease by current standards.”

From there, your travel insurer will need to be contacted with a copy of your passport and travel insurance documents. Approvals will be granted for medical treatment in the country, as well as for the air ambulance to bring you home. The intermediary, the assistance company usually allocates an air ambulance service to insurers, so you will not have a choice of company, but with the right insurance, you will get home safely.

The Bottom Line
Remember, should something happen while you are travelling, you might be incapacitated or unconscious when needing this information to be shared.

It is important to do a few things before you head out on your trip. Check and sign your travel policy, send a copy of that and your passport to loved ones, and make sure that they know what you are covered for.