Medics preparing for a medical evacuation

Travel Insurance for Repatriation and Medical Evacuation

Worried about whether you're covered for repatriation and medical evacuation? Find out who covers what

Overseas medical expenses and evacuation can be expensive business and without travel insurance, can turn a dream holiday into a nightmare. Find out what travel insurance for repatriation and medical evacuation covers and how you can make sure you're covered.

What is repatriation insurance?

Repatriation is the act of returning someone to their place of origin. In the context of travel insurance, it means returning someone to their home country after they have suffered an illness or injury overseas. Repatriation insurance typically covers:

  • Emergency evacuation or repatriation. This covers you for emergency medical transportation, either to return you to your home country or to transport you to the nearest overseas hospital or medical facility (such as being airlifted out of the mountains after a skiing accident).
  • Emergency reunion. This pays for a friend or family member to be by your bedside if you are medically evacuated. The benefit will normally pay to fly them to wherever you are and pay for their accommodation and living expenses while they are with you.
  • Repatriation of remains. Repatriation insurance covers the cost of returning your mortal remains to your home country if you pass away while overseas.
  • Travel assistance. This provides a range of services for minor problems experienced overseas such as help with translation, lost documents and emergency prescriptions.

How do insurers in the finder.com.au panel handle medical evacuation and repatriation?

BrandConditionsApply
1-cover-new1Covered under emergency medical assistance. If you're injured overseas, 1Cover will pay their emergency assistance provide AAI, to arrange medical transfer if you need to be transported to the nearest overseas hospital for emergency medical treatment or evacuation if you need to be bought back to Australia with appropriate medical supervision.Get quote
AIGAIG Travel Guard™ operates a network of 24 hour alarm centres, clinics and dedicated air ambulances to provide the best possible medical advice, care and medical transfers for you. They will assist you with if and when evacuation or repatriation is required and coordinate all facets.Get quote
AMEX Travel InsuranceYou're covered for emergency medical supervised evacuation and repatriation under the overseas emergency medical assistance section of the policy.Get quote
Budget Direct Travel InsuranceBy choosing this travel insurance, you can access a network of 24 hour telephone assistance centres, and an international network of medical and emergency assistance providers who can help in many ways including to coordinate evacuation or repatriation where you are located to a suitable medical facility or back home to Australia, subject to assessment and approval.Get quote
Citibank Travel InsuranceThe cost of evacuation or to repatriate You back to Australia from overseas will only be paid if it was arranged by and deemed necessary by ACE Assistance.
Columbus DirectYou're covered under the overseas medical expenses, emergency repatriation and other expenses section of the policy for transportation costs for emergency repatriation to your country of residence.Get quote
CoverMoreCover-More have the option of returning you to Australia if the cost of medical and/or additional expenses overseas are likely to exceed the cost of returning you to Australia subject always to medical advice. Cover-More also have the option of evacuating you to another country.Get quote
DownunderDUInsure is backed by Allianz Global Assistance who will arrange for the following assistance services if you injure yourself overseas or become sick while overseas:

  • Your medical transfer or evacuation if you must be transported to the nearest Hospital for emergency medical treatment overseas or be brought back to Australia with appropriate medical supervision
  • The return to Australia of your dependants if they are left without supervision following your hospitalisation or evacuation
Get quote
Easy Travel InsuranceEasy Travel Insurance covers you under section C of the policy for evacuation and repatriation costs.Get quote
Fast CoverYou're covered for your medical transfer or evacuation if you must be transported to the nearest hospital for emergency medical treatment overseas, or be brought back to Australia with appropriate medical supervision.Get quote
Go InsuranceOverseas medical expenses including emergency repatriation, additional travel and accommodation, and funeral expenses.Get quote
InsureandGoDepending on your specific needs, MAPFRE ASSISTANCE (emergency assistance provider for InsureandGo) can coordinate evacuation or repatriation where you are located to a suitable medical facility or back home to Australia, subject to assessment and approval.Get quote
iTrekiTrek is backed by Allianz Global Assistance who will arrange for the following assistance services if you injure yourself overseas or become sick while overseas:

  • Your medical transfer or evacuation if you must be transported to the nearest hospital for emergency medical treatment overseas or be brought back to Australia with appropriate medical supervision
  • The return to Australia of your dependants if they are left without supervision following your hospitalisation or evacuation
Get quote
MultiTrip Travel InsuranceMultitrip.com.au will coordinate evacuation or repatriation where you are located to a suitable medical facility or back home to Australia, subject to assessment and approval.Get quote
No Worries Travel InsuranceNoWorries covers you under medical expenses and evacuation for overseas medical, emergency dental, hospital and ambulance costs and, when approved by us, emergency repatriation should you sustain injury or suffer an illness.Get quote
Simply Travel InsuranceSimply Travel Insurance is backed by Allianz Global Assistance who will arrange for the following assistance services if you injure yourself overseas or become sick while overseas:

  • Your medical transfer or evacuation if you must be transported to the nearest hospital for emergency medical treatment overseas or be brought back to Australia with appropriate medical supervision
  • The return to Australia of your dependants if they are left without supervision following your hospitalisation or evacuation
Get quote
Skiinsurance.com.auSkiinsurance.com.au is backed by Allianz Global Assistance who will arrange for the following assistance services if you injure yourself overseas or become sick while overseas:

  • Your medical transfer or evacuation if you must be transported to the nearest hospital for emergency medical treatment overseas or be brought back to Australia with appropriate medical supervision
  • The return to Australia of your dependants if they are left without supervision following your hospitalisation or evacuation
Get quote
Southern CrossIf SCTI have confirmed cover for your medical expenses, SCTI have the option of evacuating you at their expense to Australia or to another country for further treatment if you are medically fit to travel. SCTI will not pay for any expenses incurred for further medical treatment in Australia.
STA Travel InsuranceSTA Travel Insurance is backed by Allianz Global Assistance who will arrange for the following assistance services if you injure yourself overseas or become sick while overseas:

  • Your medical transfer or evacuation if you must be transported to the nearest hospital for emergency medical treatment overseas or be brought back to Australia with appropriate medical supervision
  • The return to Australia of your dependants if they are left without supervision following your hospitalisation or evacuation
Get quote
Tick Travel InsuranceDepending on your specific needs, MAPFRE ASSISTANCE (emergency assistance provider for Tick Travel Insurance) can coordinate evacuation or repatriation where you are located to a suitable medical facility or back home to Australia, subject to assessment and approval.Get quote
Travel Insurance DirectThe policy covers you if you need to go to hospital, are in an accident, require medical evacuation or repatriation.Get quote
Travel Insurance Saver LogoTravel Insurance Saver covers you under Section C of the policy for evacuation and repatriation costs.Get quote
Travel InsuranzYou are covered up to the amount shown in the schedule of cover for necessary and reasonable costs incurred as a result of your bodily injury, illness or death during your trip in respect of:

  • Emergency medical, surgical and hospital treatment and transportation. At the sole discretion of underwriters and their representatives, who reserve the right to make the final decision as to whether or not it is medically necessary, this also includes the cost of repatriation to your normal country of residence, by whatever means deemed medically necessary
Get quote
Virgin MoneyVirgin Travel Insurance is backed by Allianz Global Assistance who will arrange for the following assistance services if you injure yourself overseas or become sick while overseas:

  • Your medical transfer or evacuation if you must be transported to the nearest hospital for emergency medical treatment overseas or be brought back to Australia with appropriate medical supervision
  • The return to Australia of your dependants if they are left without supervision following your hospitalisation or evacuation
Get quote
Woolworths Travel InsuranceAll policies cover overseas medical evacuation and repatriation expenses.Get quote
Worldcare Travel InsuranceWorldCare is backed by Allianz Global Assistance who will arrange for the following assistance services if you injure yourself overseas or become sick while overseas:

  • Your medical transfer or evacuation if you must be transported to the nearest hospital for emergency medical treatment overseas or be brought back to Australia with appropriate medical supervision
  • The return to Australia of your dependants if they are left without supervision following your hospitalisation or evacuation
Get quote
youGoYouGo provides cover under the medical cover section for overseas hospital, medical, surgical, nursing and ambulance expenses. Our medical cover also assists You to find treatment and if necessary medical evacuation.Get quote

Why is it important to have?

Medical evacuation and repatriation cover could save your life one day. Without it, you could find yourself with a massive bill that you might spend years or even the rest of your life paying off.

For example, medical evacuations from the USA to Australia typically cost anywhere from $75,000 to $300,000, due in part to the distance involved. Even a medical evacuation from somewhere much closer to home, like Bali, can cost up to $60,000.

Why so expensive? The reason is usually because you can’t just be put on the next commercial flight home. You might need to travel by special air ambulance, have access to expensive medical equipment and be escorted by medical personnel; all of which can add up to a lot of money in a very short time.

And that’s why you should have adequate repatriation and medical evacuation cover (ideally up to $500,000), particularly if you are planning to travel somewhere remote where the nearest medical assistance is a long way away.

What does repatriation and medical evacuation actually cover?

Repatriation cover is only for serious and life-threatening illnesses and injuries. Broken bones, while serious, don’t usually require medical evacuation, unless you are in a remote area with no medical facilities (such as skiing off-piste).

Emergency medical evacuation is for removing you to the nearest suitable medical facility if what’s available locally is limited or non-existent. It can be in an ambulance, a helicopter or medical aircraft, depending on the facilities available, and the degree of urgency associated with your injury or illness.

Repatriation to your country of origin is reserved for situations where you are suffering from a long-term illness or injury and have been deemed unfit to travel by a doctor, meaning you would be better off (physically and financially) recovering at home. Typical repatriation and medical evacuation cover includes:

  • Access to emergency medical treatment
  • Transport to the nearest overseas hospital or back to Australia with appropriate medical supervision
  • A guarantee of payment for emergency hospital expenses
  • Assistance with contacting friends and family back home
  • Assistance with returning unaccompanied dependents to Australia

What won’t I be covered for?

There are some general exclusions that apply to repatriation cover (circumstances in which cover will not be provided). These include:

  • Your return flight to Australia – the insurer will use your return ticket to help recover costs. If you don’t have a return ticket, you will be charged for a one-way economy ticket.
  • Costs you incur by continuing your trip after being declared unfit to travel and refusing to be repatriated
  • Costs associated with an undeclared or unapproved pre-existing medical condition
  • Costs you incur once you arrive back home in Australia

Repatriation from a cruise

Cruising is a type of travel where repatriation cover is particularly important to have. Your cruise ship has only limited medical facilities onboard and the nearest hospital may be many hundreds of kilometres away. This means that if you have a heart attack or fall seriously ill, you will have to be airlifted to the nearest land  hospital, and this can be an extremely costly service that isn’t covered by any kind of health insurance.

Having repatriation and medical evacuation cover will give you the peace of mind knowing that if something happens to you at sea, you’ll get the best attention in the fastest time and won’t be faced with a bill for tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars when you get back home.

Role of a travel insurance emergency assistance team overseas

Most travel insurance companies have their own overseas medical emergency assistance service or employ such a service to act on their behalf. These teams are available 24/7 should you have a medical emergency and can assist by arranging hospital admissions, medical evacuation and emergency medical treatment.

Their emergency service providers include medical experts who will assess your need for assistance and whether repatriation is required. They are authorised to act on behalf of the insurer, so they are often your first point of contact in a medical emergency. They are also experts in the countries they service and can provide local assistance with a range of matters, including lost documents and emergency prescriptions.

Because they are your insurer’s representatives in the field, it’s important to follow their instructions, as one of the exclusions most insurers include in their policies is no payment if you ignore the advice of your emergency assistance provider. You must also get authorisation from your insurer before making any arrangements yourself, otherwise your claim may be voided.

What do I do in a medical emergency overseas?

How you go about making a claim will depend on the type of incident you are claiming for. If it’s a medical emergency, you must first contact the insurer’s emergency medical assistance provider, who will help arrange appropriate assistance and authorise payment.

If you are seeking medical treatment for a minimal amount (say, less than $2,000), you might consider paying upfront and claiming it back from your insurer later. But if you require specialist medical treatment, hospitalisation, medical evacuation or repatriation, you must seek authorisation from the medical emergency assistance provider beforehand.

If you’re claiming for a relatively minor incident, such as lost luggage or a cancelled flight, you can claim online or by mail when you return to Australia. Each insurer has a different deadline, so read your product disclosure statement (PDS) to make sure your claim is lodged on time.

Five steps to take in an emergency

If you've experienced a medical emergency overseas you should:

  1. Get yourself to nearest medical facility and seek help
  2. Have your passport handy
  3. Contact your insurer, they will advise you on how to proceed
  4. Do what the doctors tell you and undergo medical treatment
  5. Keep in touch with your travel insurance assistance team

Apply for travel insurance for medical and emergency repatriation

Make sure the policy you choose covers you for emergency medical and repatriation. Compare the travel insurance brands in the finder.com.au panel and get covered today.

Compare policies for repatriation insurance

Ben Carlson / Shutterstock.com
Picture: Shutterstock

Richard Laycock

Richard is the senior insurance writer at finder.com.au and is on a mission to make insurance easier to understand.

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2 Responses to Travel Insurance for Repatriation and Medical Evacuation

  1. Default Gravatar
    Anna | July 29, 2016

    Cost of evacuation back to Australia from China for patient travelling for medical treatment

    • Staff
      Richard | August 1, 2016

      Hi Anna,,

      Thanks for you question. finder.com.au is a comparison service and does not have access o this sport of information. You should contact your insurer about medical evacuation.

      All the best,
      Richard

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