EMS Ambulance 14 May 2021


Air ambulance insurance: what happens when they say no – or if you just aren’t covered?

Getting ill or having an accident abroad can be a worrying experience. Most people just want to get home as soon as possible – and, in EMS Ambulance’s view, that’s usually the best thing to do: healthcare approaches and standards differ markedly from country to country, you may not speak the language, and you’re a long way from friends and family at a very stressful time.

In theory, this is exactly the point where travel insurance kicks in and gets you home in super-quick time. Unfortunately, there are a whole host of reasons why that doesn’t always happen – even if you thought you were covered with ‘mediflight’ insurance or a medical air transport insurance policy, or similar.

6 reasons you might have to stay abroad

You didn’t take out insurance: And you wouldn’t be alone! Around one in five holidaymakers don’t get insured, either because they don’t think they’ll need it, or because they forget to buy a policy.

You’re outside the coverage period: Most travel insurance policies are time-limited. If you end up in hospital with an illness or injury and exceed that period, your treatment costs may not be covered.

You have a pre-existing condition: Some providers won’t cover you if you have a chronic (long-term) condition, or won’t pay out if you didn’t declare it when buying your insurance.

You were under the influence: Some policies won’t pay for treatment if the patient was drinking alcohol or taking drugs at the time of their illness or injury.

You “don’t need to go home”: If you’re in a foreign hospital and the insurance company deems the care to be adequate, they may say there is no medical necessity to get you home for treatment.

You’re “too ill to move”: Insurance providers may also argue that it’s safer to treat you in the foreign hospital, or to move you to another local hospital for specialist care, rather than fly you home.

How EMS can help

Many medical repatriation companies operate exclusively with insurance providers under contract. In other words, they won’t fly you home unless they receive a direct commission from the insurance company to do so. EMS Ambulance doesn’t operate like that. We work independently from insurance companies, which means we can take on patients who don’t have travel insurance, or people whose provider is refusing to repatriate them. If it’s medically safe to get you out, we’ll find a way.

When you contact our service team, we’ll listen carefully to your situation and tell you quickly if we can help (we almost always can!). If you need a price estimate for the journey, we’ll come back to you with a free quote – often within 60 minutes of your call.

EMS is staffed with fully-qualified medical practitioners, which means we can make an independent assessment of the quality of care you’re receiving in the foreign hospital, and whether you could be better served by treatment at home. We can also work out very quickly whether it’s safe for you or your loved one to be transported. Local hospital teams aren’t always aware of the level of care available on a private air ambulance jet – the aeroplanes we use are fitted with intensive care units (ICU) and emergency equipment and medication, so we can treat and even operate on patients inflight. We take care of the handover with the local medical team and all the paperwork involved. With more than 10 years of experience in flying critically ill and injured patients around the world – from war zone repatriations to COVID transportations in full isolation – we know what it takes to get people home.

If you do have travel insurance, it may be possible to reclaim some or all of the repatriation costs for an EMS transport once you’ve returned home. Of course, there are no guarantees whether they’ll do this – and much will depend on your individual policy and its specific terms and conditions. But we can certainly help you with documentation for your claim. After the transport, we can provide you with the medical transport document stating that the repatriation was necessary. You will also want to keep our invoice so you can send it on to the insurance company.

Whatever the situation you’re facing, or the challenges involved in getting home for treatment, we’ll do our very best to help you.

Contact us

Worried about your insurance coverage, or not sure if you have air ambulance insurance or medical flight insurance? Get in touch and we’ll be really happy to explore your situation and the options available. Call us on +44 20 3514 679 – or send us an email or a message on WhatsApp. We’re here to help.