Imagine you’ve had an accident or become very ill while you’re on vacation. Help has arrived and you’re being cared for in a hospital or clinic. If you can be moved, evacuation will be coordinated by your insurance provider.
Search & rescue and medical evacuation insurance choices
Here are a few options for accident and evacuation insurance above and beyond your required in-country health insurance.
Divers Alert Network (DAN)
- Not just for divers! Accident plus travel insurance
When I started scuba diving, I found out about Diver’s Alert Network. I use their premium (Guardian) plan, which also covers overland accidents with medical transportation coverage, evacuation, and search & rescue. DAN costs me $125 annually (plus a $35 membership fee), which is less expensive than other accident and evacuation plans that I can find. They also provide one-time or multi-trip insurance.
This pricing is for their annual plan. DAN’s short-term dive insurance does not include the non-dive accident coverage and medical transportation costs. Unlike MedJet assist, it does put a cap on the cost to get you home at $100,000. The search and rescue benefit is for diving accidents only, so you’ll still need Binational to cover that.
- Medical Evacuation plus Search & Rescue
Some of my adventure friends have recommended GEOS Alliance Medivac, which starts 99 miles from home to the hospital of your choice. Like the other programs I describe, this is not a medical insurance plan, but a search and rescue and evac plan.
If you’re headed way off the beaten path–off-road motorcycle, hiking, boating–you might think about combining the $129.95 annual MEDIVAC membership with the Search & Rescue (SAR) Benefit. However, this would be an additional $179.95 (and not just $29.95) if motorcycling is a high-risk activity. (I can’t find it on their site.) Instead, you could use BiNational, described above. Here are charts from the GEOS site.
MEDIVAC membership cost
Search & Rescue membership cost
- Travel and medical evacuation insurance
- Best option for vacations
My friend Jason Moore (host of the Zero to Travel podcast), just wrote a detailed article about travel insurance that is interesting reading. He’s a longtime world traveler so he should know! He uses World Nomads, and you can get a quote for it at the end of the article. (Scroll all the way down.)
My cost for a four-week trip would be $110 for their standard coverage (for activities like motorcycling and scuba diving) and $161 for their Explorer insurance in case you want to do something silly like shark cage diving. For a two-week trip, the cost would be $74 and $102. To cover myself for the entire winter season in Baja (Oct 1-May31) my cost would be $564 and $812. So for me, the DAN service, at $125 annually, makes the most sense. But I think if you’re going for a couple of weeks, flying in, renting a car or riding bikes from the US, World Nomads is your best bet.
World Nomads includes evacuation insurance, but I’d still tack on the Binational service since they’re in-country experts and I just wouldn’t trust a person on an 800 number to be able to coordinate my transport to a medical facility for evac.
What they do cover that DAN doesn’t is standard trip insurance stuff like trip cancellation, interruption, delay, plus baggage and personal effects—and that can be important if this is your one vacation of the year, or you’re bringing expensive camera gear.
- Travel and medical evacuation recommended by Discover Baja
MEDEX offers travel insurance (90 days max) and perks like passport replacement, lost luggage, and translation services. TravMedChoice is their top plan, and they offer hazardous sports coverage for an extra $5.50 per day.
Motorcycling is not considered a hazardous sport (unless you’re racing the Baja), but scuba diving is. I want to scuba dive, so my quote for $500,000 in coverage with $250 deductible turned out to be about $170 for 30 days. I would receive $1000 of dental ($200 per tooth), emergency reunion (family member travels to me), trip interruption ($5000) and lost baggage ($250).
It’s good coverage, but search, and rescue isn’t handled, so as an adventure traveler I am still sold on DAN and, when I’m in Baja, Celia Diaz’s Binational service. Compare with World Nomadsand GEO Assist.
- Medical transport only
I am including Medjet Assist here because so many people use them, but I was shocked at what they do not cover.
What they cover: Medjet Assist covers long and short-term air medical transport evacuation insurance if you’re hospitalized over 150 miles from home. For an extra $25 they will get your motorcycle home, too (in Mexico, Canada, and the USA only). There is no dollar limit on the cost to get you home. Because there is no cap, they may be an excellent choice if you’re headed to a place where it may cost over $50,000 to get you home, but that’s not Baja.
What they do not cover: Medjet Assist does not cover search and rescue or in-country medical costs, accidental death and dismemberment, disability, or accommodation. You must get to a clinic or hospital that they serve, first. To do that may require the assistance of a rancher, farmer, another tourist, pilot, or boater. Again, this is where Celia Diaz’s Binational Emergency service comes in handy.
No health questions, deductibles or claim forms are required. Air medical transport services only require that you be hospitalized as an inpatient and need hospitalization upon reaching your destination.
So if you use Medjet Assist, get Binational for search and rescue and make sure your regular health insurance and your travel insurance covers you for death & dismemberment, disability, and accommodation, if that’s important to you. You’ll also need travel insurance if you want trip interruption and gear replacement.
Do you have recommendations for companies like these, or warnings against? A story to share? Please share in the comments below. Thanks!