Looking for evacuation insurance for adventure sports?
Recently we were asked our advice for an article in U.S. Hang Gliding & Paragliding magazine. The writer, Annette O’Neill, is a friend who is also a very accomplished BASE jumper and adventure sports enthusiast. Her article was very specific to those paragliding and hang gliding, but what about you?
Here’s some advice if you have a good medical insurance policy already that covers your sport and any injuries sustained in your adventure sport, and are simply looking for evacuation insurance for adventure sports:
Below we recommend three short-term plans with minimum medical and separate evacuation benefit.
Most plans unfortunately will not cover you in your native country. If you are a non-U.S. citizen or resident coming to the USA, you are eligible. If you are a U.S. resident traveling overseas, you can get coverage. But most citizens have trouble getting coverage in their respective country(ies).
This is not the case with some non-insurance, membership-based plans which will cover you 150-160 miles from home.
“Medical transport plans” are for evacuation only and are not insurance. They will not pay medical claims and all treatment is the responsibility of the person being evacuated. They have limited benefits and are usually NOT “field-to-facility” or “field-rescue” plans. What that means is that usually they will transport you only from one medical facility (if they cannot treat you for your injuries) to another better-equipped facility (usually anywhere in the world). Two plans that will do “field-to-facility” rescues or evacuations are our new evac plan and our BUPA sports plan (for non-U.S. residents). They will not “search” for you, but if you know where you are located or stuck (or hurt), they will consider the helicopter, or rescue, as part of the emergency medical transport benefit and will customarily reimburse for those costs, like they would an ambulance.
As mentioned talking with Annette, true evacuation-only plans are becoming more scarce, and not just for adventure sports athletes. Insurance carriers are becoming more concerned about liability when they transport to a medical facility only to discover that the hospital will not accept the injured party’s insurance or find out that the accident is not covered by their insurance policy. Since the transport company is the responsible party until hand-off, this makes things complicated to the company doing the emergency transportation.
Since a typical rescue or adventure sports evacuation might cost you anywhere from $15,000 for a helicopter to hospital to $125,000 depending on your condition, special aircraft and clearances, specially trained medical staff or rescue staff to retrieve you and stabilize you, and your location, thinking about “What if?” before you go is critical to your well-being.
There are a few ways around the issue of fewer and fewer companies offering evacuation-only insurance for those traveling or participating in adventure sports and looking for emergency evacuation.
As mentioned, one is a “membership plan” with membership rates that will cover you as long as you are 160 miles (or more) from home and have a condition that requires hospitalization.
A better option on evacuation insurance for adventure sports?
Another option we offer our clients is to consider buying a low-cost medical insurance plan that has a high evacuation benefit. These “low cost” options have amazing evacuation benefits and the medical coverage provided, as well as many additional travel benefits, can help fill in any holes in your current medical coverage.
The typical person looking for “evacuation-only insurance for adventure sports will look for the highest medical deductible (to lower cost since they do not need the medical benefit), and lowest maximum policy (again to lower your expense). Usually the evacuation benefit is a separate benefit for $500,000 up to $2,000,000, regardless of your policy. (Since BUPA will transport you from the field as part of the medical benefit, we don’t recommend less that a $500,000 max benefit depending on your location and access to medical facilities. BUPA is also no longer being sold to U.S. or Canadian residents. However, it is available to those coming to the USA or Canada from overseas.
Three options for you:
The following are three great options if you are looking for evacuation insurance for adventure sports: (Your specific sport may direct you to a particular plan)
1.) BUPA (https://www.adventuresportsinsurance.com/bupa-short-term-travel-insurance-with-adventure-sports-coverage/) is recognized worldwide as long as you are under age 69. Even professional athletes can be covered under the BUPA plan. BUPA has annual, unlimited-trip options, as well as single-trip options, if you frequently travel outside your country of residence. Unfortunately BUPA does not cover motocross, BASE jumping or paragliding, but they cover most sports. Check the link above.
2.) We often recommend Trawick Sports Plan (https://www.adventuresportsinsurance.com/trawick-safe-travels-including-adventure-sports/) and their Trip Cancellation Plan (https://www.adventuresportsinsurance.com/news-and-helpful-links/evacuation-insurance-for-adventure-sports/) for those having to pay large deposits up front at the time of booking. The reason is that you can choose the smallest amount of medical benefit (if you already have good medical coverage) and highest deductible so that basically what you are buying is the medical evacuation, which is not subject to the policy maximum benefit and has no deductible or coinsurance.
Trawick has emergency medical evacuation that cover 100% of costs up to $2,000,000.
Trawick’s brochure reads:
Emergency Medical Evacuation Benefit
We will pay 100% up to $2,000,000 if you are traveling outside of your Home Country and suffer an Injury or Sickness during the course of the Trip which requires Emergency Medical Evacuation from the place where you suffer an Injury or Sickness to the nearest Hospital or other medical facility where appropriate medical treatment can be obtained; or transportation to your Home Country to obtain further medical treatment in a Hospital or other medical facility or to recover after suffering an Injury or Sickness. An Emergency Medical Evacuation includes Medically Necessary medical treatment, medical services and medical supplies necessarily received in connection with such transportation. If after hospitalization or treatment for a covered Injury or Sickness, you are unable to continue your journey, Our designated assistance provider, in conjunction with the local attending Doctor and/or your habitual Doctor, will organize your return to your Home Country. If the gravity of the situation so dictates, Our designated assistance provider will ensure that appropriate medical care is provided to you during the return journey. If Our designated assistance provider and the local attending medical practitioner consider you stable enough to be medically repatriated, without endangering your health, and you refuse repatriation, We will continue to pay medical expense benefits incurred after the date repatriation was recommended only up to the amount that would have been payable for the medical repatriation, subject to policy maximums and limitations. Benefits will not be payable unless We authorize in writing or by an authorized electronic or telephonic means all expenses in advance. Benefits will not be payable unless 1. the Doctor ordering the Emergency Medical Evacuation certifies the severity of your Injury or Sickness requires an Emergency Medical Evacuation; 2. all transportation arrangements made for the Emergency Medical Evacuation are by the most direct and economical conveyance and route possible; 3. the charges incurred are Medically Necessary and do not exceed the usual level of charges for similar transportation, treatment, services or supplies in the locality where the expense is incurred; and 4. do not include charges that would not have been made if there were no insurance.
Hazardous Activities are not available to clients over the age of 65
Note that you will need to add the Hazardous Activity Coverage which can be purchased by increasing the per person per day rate by 1.25(25%) to cover:
Aviation (except when traveling as a passenger in a commercial aircraft), Bobsleigh, BMX, Bungee Jumping, Canopying, Canyoning, Caving, High Diving, Hang Gliding, Heli-skiing, Hot Air Ballooning, Inline Skating, Jet Skiing, Kayaking, Motorcycling, Mountain Biking, Paragliding, Parasailing, Parascending, Scuba Diving, Snow Skiing, Snowboarding, Snowmobiling, Spelunking, Surfing, Trekking up to 3500 meters above ground and with proper ropes or guides (not exceeding Class V difficulty on the Yosemite Decimal System) Water Skiing, Wind Surfing, Whitewater Rafting (not exceeding Class V), Zip Lining, Zorbing.
The following activities are always excluded under the Trawick Adventure Sports Plan Option:
Abseiling, BASE Jumping, Extreme Sports, Luge, Motocross, Moto-X, Mountaineering or Mountain Climbing (exceeding 3500 meters or Class V difficulty on the Yosemite Decimal System), Piloting any Aircraft, Racing of any kind, Rock Climbing, Rodeo Activities, Rappelling, Ski Jumping, Skydiving, Whitewater Rafting (exceeding Class V).
3.) Another great option is the GU Diplomat Sports insurance plan (https://www.gninsurance.com/diplomat-international-travel-medical-insurance/). It has strong medical evacuation of $500,000USD regardless of your deductible/max medical benefit. (So if you don’t need the medical insurance or travel benefits, as we mentioned above, choose the highest deductible and lowest maximum benefit to save money.) There is always an advantage to having some overlapping coverage regardless of nationalized insurance or being on a good health plan. Some of these benefits are not always obvious unless you read the brochure or additional/accompanying benefits.
GU Diplomat is for travelers and cannot be used in your own home country. GU will cover Paragliding, Parasailing, Skydiving, and even running with the bulls! (While it doesn’t affect the evacuation benefit, note that under the GU adventure sports rider, your Medical Expense Benefit is reduced to $20,000 for any covered injury or illness during participation of above sports. (This is important if you need the medical insurance benefit.)
Finally, in closing…
All of these plans use helicopters, private airplanes, chartered planes and commercial airlines and routes as needed to ensure the safety of the insured.
Even though the market for evacuation insurance for adventure sports has tightened up, there are still good options for both membership-based plans and for excellent short-term travel plans that include adventure sports AND very good emergency evacuation benefits for a low daily rate. Three of those options are listed above.
As with all these options, give us a call as well as make sure to read the fine print in regards to age and in regards to the sport you will be participating in. Some carriers reduce the amount of coverage or will deny older athletes and adventure sports enthusiasts which could leave you unprotected. Each carrier and policy has very specific restrictions on sports they allow or are not covered under their plan. So download the brochure. And read the fine print.
As always, we are here to help. Whether you need advice, whether you need a sports insurance plan, or whether you are simply looking for “evacuation only.” Skype us at “goodneighborinsurance” or call toll-free (866)636-9100.