Say you’re taking an long cruise, or visiting a remote region of Costa Rica, or doing a little mountain climbing in Tanzania and you know you’ll be many miles away from the nearest hospital. What happens if you become ill or are injured and urgently need medical attention (sooner rather than later, that is)?
This is the situation medical evacuation coverage was designed to handle, but a lot of consumers confuse “emergency assistance” with “emergency evacuation” because they sound a lot alike. When it comes to travel insurance and credit card travel protection, however, these are very different terms indeed.
With both travel insurance and credit card travel protection:
- Emergency assistance means having a 24-hour hotline answered by a representative who will help you connect with the services you need. This is an excellent benefit when you’re kid is running a fever and you have no idea where the nearest hospital or medical facility might be. (Full details on emergency assistance with your travel insurance.)
- Emergency evacuation, on the other hand, means those representatives will arrange for you to be retrieved from the location where you are to the nearest appropriate medical facility. This coverage also ensures that you get back home after you are treated in a hospital. So, if you are hurt in Bali and get airlifted to Malaysia for treatment, they handle all that AND get you back home. (Full details on emergency evacuations with your travel insurance.)
Credit cards have emergency assistance, just like travel insurance plans do, but they do not cover emergency evacuations.
Evacuations are high-dollar items. While many people don’t think twice about insuring their baggage or the rental car (that’s where credit card protection is about the same as travel insurance), losing those items aren’t likely to break the bank – your bank, that is. Figuring out how to cough up ten thousand or a hundred thousand dollars for a medical evacuation is completely different.