For most people, travel insurance simply provides peace of mind while on holiday: we tick the boxes, pay the fee and carry on with our packing. But if someone falls ill or has an accident while abroad, the quality of that insurance policy suddenly becomes hugely important.
Generally, travel insurers pay out as required, without any problems. But not always. Some insurers have been known to refuse to pay for hospital bills or emergency evacuation (also called medical repatriation) after a claim has been lodged. This has the potential to quickly escalate a stressful situation into a life-threatening one.
Last week reports emerged that a leading UK-based travel insurer is facing investigations into its conduct by the General Medical Council (GMC) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), after some policyholders claimed they had been denied emergency flights home (allegations the company denies).
Why might my travel insurer refuse to pay for my emergency treatment?
Insurance companies may refuse to pay for all or part of an emergency claim for a variety of reasons. This might be 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. In the case of repatriation, the travel insurer may argue that it’s safer to treat the patient in the host country rather than to bring them home.
What does EMS believe?
As long-term experts in medical repatriation, EMS Ambulance believes that evacuation is the safest choice for the vast majority of patients. Repatriating a patient to their own country avoids the risk of lower medical standards, poor hospital hygiene and ageing equipment found in some countries around the world. It’s also widely documented that patients recover better at home.
While travel insurers sometimes claim that a patient isn’t well enough to make the journey, the reality is that modern medical evacuation services like EMS can often provide much better care during the evacuation process than the patient is likely to receive while abroad. EMS’ road and air ambulances feature state-of-the-art medical equipment – including life-support – and a team of dedicated medical specialists to care for them during the journey.
Unfortunately, insurers sometimes refuse to repatriate because they claim there isn’t a pressing medical reason to justify the patient’s relocation. At EMS, we strongly believe that the patient’s health and wellbeing should always be the primary concern.
What can I do if my travel insurer won’t bring me home?
In the unfortunate event that a travel insurer refuses to evacuate you or a loved one, don’t worry. The first step is to contact a reputable emergency evacuation expert – you can get in touch with EMS Ambulance by phone, email, Skype or Whatsapp message. We act independently to travel insurers. We can make our own professional medical diagnosis in person, so that our medical experts can determine the safest way to get the patient home. We only use the highest quality medical equipment during transit, and our road and air ambulances are equipped for every medical emergency. We can act quickly to bring patients home – often on the same day.