Despite the added cost, many travellers invest in travel insurance just in case the unexpected happens. It gives peace of mind that should an accident happen while abroad, you’ll be taken care of, either by local healthcare or by being brought back to your home country through a process called ‘medical repatriation’. Most standard policies include medical repatriation, but there can be conditions and sometimes an application is denied. What then? How can you get home, when your insurer refuses your repatriation.
Why insurers might refuse
Insurance companies may refuse to cover medical repatriation – either in total or in part – for a number of reasons. For one, your level of cover might not be enough to include the type of repatriation required – a private air ambulance, for example, is a costly thing. The claim might also be denied because the patient has omitted to include a pre-existing condition or prescription in their policy declaration, or because they were under the influence of alcohol at the time of injury.
The travel insurer may also argue that the patient isn’t well enough to be moved and that it’s safer to treat the patient in the host country rather than transporting them home. Or they might say there is no medical necessity and that the care the patient is receiving in the local hospital is adequate. In that case they often will offer to cover the costs of local treatment and sometimes, accommodation.
Why patients and their families might still prefer to go home
Although medical transport often involve considerable costs, many people still prefer to go home, even if their insurer refuses the claim. This can be for a variety of reasons. Healthcare systems and standards of care and hygiene can differ greatly in different countries – even within Europe. Combined with language barriers and different hospital policies and procedures, this can cause a lot of added stress and concern for the patient’s wellbeing, and can lead to a lack of confidence in medical care they are receiving.
In addition, emergency plans for family to stay beyond their intended trip often have to be made – practical issues like food, laundry, communication all need to be arranged for an extended stay and often come with significant costs themselves. That is if family and friends are able to stay and can move or find cover for other commitments back home.
How EMS can help
At EMS we work independently from insurance companies, and offer repatriation services even if your insurer is refusing to get involved. We carry out our own medical assessments and examinations and if it’s medically safe, we can find a way to bring you (or your loved one) home.
When you get in touch, we will take the time to understand your situation and help you think through your options. If you request a free quote, we will always aim to have an answer back to you within an hour, so you know what’s involved.
We provide medical repatriation worldwide by road ambulance and air ambulance. Alternatively, if the patient’s condition allows it, we can send a medical escort to accompany the patient back home on a commercial flight. We deliver bed-to-bed service, meaning we take care of the whole process, including paperwork, liaising with hospitals on both ends, medical staff and crew, handovers, tickets and bookings and of course the transport itself with any treatments, medication and care the patient might require.
“After a truck accident, I ended up in a hospital in Poland. After many calls with my insurer, I found out that they did not want to transport me to [my home country] – even after I made it clear that my wife was pregnant and [close] to giving birth. My employer explained the whole story to EMS-247. [They arranged a long distance road ambulance] and started driving the same day. The next afternoon they were already with me! A burden fell off my shoulders! After I was approved for transport, we left immediately. [It was] very nice to be transported by skilled and especially very friendly people to the hospital in [my home country]. EMS-247 thanks for the great service! And thanks for bringing me home in time for the birth of our child.”
If you find yourself in a medical emergency abroad and would like to come home, even if your insurer is refusing to pay, do please get in touch – even if it’s just to talk through what’s possible and what your options might be. We’re available 24/7 by email, phone or our live chat function.