Testing positive for Covid-19 abroad and getting stuck in quarantine is now a major hurdle for potential tourists. Is Travel Evacuation Coverage the Answer?
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For those who can’t afford to deal with a week or two in quarantine away from home, many travel advisors recommend travel evacuation coverage – subscription plans that can get you back home on an air ambulance. And while most medical evacuation policies are designed for serious emergencies like a car accident or heart attack, the COVID pandemic has given rise to a more flexible type of policy. A newcomer to the field, Kovac Global provides coverage for travelers who test positive for Covid and report at least one symptom, but do not require hospitalization. Membership starts at $675 per person for 15 days of coverage. According to CEO Ross Thompson, Kovac Global has evacuated about 60 US travelers from overseas, including Croatia, Uganda, the Bahamas and Peru. However, these are not padded private-jet jaunts. “These are registered air ambulances, with a doctor and a full medical team,” Mr Thompson said. Re-entering the US requires a set of steps to be observed by the CDC: for example, patients must either go directly to the hospital or go into isolation according to the rules of their state’s health department.
Medjet, which has been operating medical evacuation flights for 30 years, recently expanded its COVID-related assistance to cover travel outside North America. Membership starts at $99 per person for an eight-day trip or $295 for a year of travel. Those with milder cases—even non-members—can arrange for an air ambulance at a “fee depending on the service,” but the tab can run well into the five figures—most will want to spend more than a vacation. .
Is it really worth the expense?
If you test positive for COVID, many insurance policies that cover “delay in travel” will reimburse you for hotel stays. The Valuable Clearance Scheme is for travelers who want extra assurance. “Our members are less concerned about travel delays, and more concerned about not being ‘stuck’ in a hospital out of town,” said John Goebbels, Medjet’s COO. If this is your biggest concern, an evacuation plan makes sense, but if you are healthy and fully vaccinated then travel insurance with travel delay coverage will probably suffice.