This is the second of two stories on medical evacuation insurance
While there is money to be made in selling medical evacuation insurance, several travel agents say the greater reward comes from clients who are grateful they’ve had the coverage—either because they used it or because of the sense of security it provided.
Yet clearly, agents should understand exactly what any insurance or medical evacuation plan would cover – and there are ways to do that.
Stan Sandberg, is co-founder of travelinsurance.com, a “comparison site’ where agents can see how policies from different travel insurance companies stack up.
“There are variations among the plans as far as medical evacuation,” said Sandberg. “A hospital of choice option would be part of a premium plan and you might see it in some travel insurance policies.
“Generally, you get the nearest hospital equipped to handle the situation at the destination or elsewhere.”
Nancy Stein of Aldine Travel in St. Louis said she originally recommended medical evacuation insurance to clients who did more exotic kinds of trips.
But it turns out that it’s good for a variety of situations, including clients with college kids living away from home, according to Stein. “As long as there is an annual policy they [the kids] will be covered,” she said.
“We tell clients about the general benefits of the program including the caveat that MedjetAssist [a medical evacuation company] decides on a plan based on the medical situation,” she added. “You may or may not get transportation; in some cases you may not be able to be moved because it’s just not safe but they will do everything possible to handle it.
“We do recommend to everybody who buys travel insurance that they buy this product as well. We have had people who declined travel insurance but bought this.”
Betsy Donley of Phoenix-based Camelback Odyssey Travel started selling Medjet long before her own experience with it (see related story) because, “I sell a lot of adventure travel and my clients go to remote destinations.”
“It’s essential if only for the peace of mind,” she said. “The thing about Medjet is that a doctor or clinic or hospital has to be In charge. You can’t just call from a river in Belize and say you need a private plane.
“We sell a lot of regular travel insurance which covers you mostly for transport to the nearest hospital or facility, not automatically for the hospital of your choice.”
Donley said most of her clients, especially those over 50 years-old and older, buy medical evacuation insurance.
“At the end of a booking we give them a quote on insurance and medical evacuation, whatever option is best for them. If we sell travel insurance through a cruise line, we will also suggest it.”
“I sell the heck out of medical evacuation coverage,” said Kelly Shea, owner of Kelly Shea Travels in Carmel, Ind.
“I even make people sign waiver forms saying they understand the possibilities if they do not buy it and that their regular medical coverage will not work internationally,” she added.
“This is not a big money maker but when things happen people will never forget you for telling them about this.”