Emergency medical evacuation

By Wayne Wirtanen
This item appears on page 48 of the March 2019 issue.

There are basically two types of overseas emergency-medical-evacuation policies. First is the type of coverage supplied by Divers Alert Network, or DAN (Durham, NC; 800/446-2671, www.diversalertnetwork.org).

DAN is primarily designed for scuba divers, but anyone can join. Their basic coverage is called "DAN Membership," and for a year's protection the cost is $35 for an individual or $55 for a family (including spouse or domestic partner and children under 24 in school and unmarried).

I no longer recommend this type of coverage because, in case of a medical emergency, it will take you only to the nearest appropriate medical facility, and there is no provision for medical costs. If I had a medical emergency overseas, I'd definitely like to have medical coverage.

The second type of coverage, which I do recommend, is a zero-trip-cost (or post-departure) policy, which is modestly priced because it eliminates the costly trip-cancellation and trip-interruption features.

I call this the "Betty James Travel Insurance Strategy," named after a Florida ITN subscriber who had this kind of coverage (see Sept. '10, pg. 54). It paid some $80,000 for her medical treatment and took her and her traveling companion home to their front doors.

If your condition requires it, this type of policy will take you all the way home, and there is generous medical coverage. The likelihood of needing all-the-way-home service is minuscule, but those kinds of problems do occur and can be very expensive.

Some travel insurance companies are no longer issuing no-trip-cost policies; they'd far rather sell you a more expensive full-feature policy. A "Betty James policy" costs from $37 to $67 for a 60-year-old on a 30-day trip.

I can never too often recommend buying from a travel insurance company that offers a primary-payer policy (as opposed to a secondary-payer policy), which provides the opportunity to waive the preexisting-condition clause.

(Secondary payers cover claims for overseas medical expenses only after any other insurance company has paid whatever it will pay. Primary medical coverage pays first regardless of any other insurance you may have. As for the preexisting-condition clause, there is one in every travel insurance policy, but unless there is a waiver of that clause, it means that any claim involving that condition will be paid only if the insured person's condition has been "stable" per the description in the policy.)

Contact the travel insurance broker Dan Drennen (402/343-3621, dan@travelinsurancecenter.com) at the Travel Insurance Center in Omaha, Nebraska, to determine whether or not to purchase travel insurance and, if so, what kind. He represents many travel insurance companies.

Happy Trails.

To access any of Wayne's previous articles offering recommendations for purchasing travel insurance (or not), go to www.intltravelnews.com/columns/travel-insurance and click on the "index" button on the right. Readers with questions are welcome to contact Wayne Wirtanen, 4341 Shangri-la Lane, Placerville, CA 95667; call 530/644-1084 or email wayne@innercite.com.