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Most Travelers “Flying Blind” on Medical Protection While on the Road

Travel insurance continues to be a blind spot for all travelers, whether for business or leisure

A new study from Medjet finds that a major segment of today’s luxury travel market, whether business or leisure, continues to be ill-informed about travel insurance, medical evacuation and personal protection.

In a recent poll building on a study originally conducted in the pre-pandemic time of fall 2019, and then completed again in early 2021 for a more accurate view travelers’ sentiments following a tumultuous year, the results illustrated in both cases a significant lack of awareness in regards to travel insurance and medical evacuation coverage. This became even more striking during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new poll results show that very few travelers plan on sitting this year out; when asked when they would feel ready to travel again, travelers’ responses were as follows:

• 17.5 percent are already traveling

• 15.83 percent plan on traveling within the next three months

• 54.17 percent plan on traveling between 4-12 months from now

• 12.5 percent plan on traveling 1+ year from now/are not sure

“The results of both polls are very much in line with what we’ve found in our own anecdotal research and decades of experience as leaders in the field of air medical transport and crisis response,” says Mike Hallman, President & CEO of Medjet, “that there are massive misconceptions among business and leisure travelers of all ages as to: If, when and how they are protected.”

In 2020, 85 percent of respondents felt they knew about the “same or less” about medevac coverage due to the pandemic. 64 percent of travelers felt they should know more.

The fall 2019 poll results, even without the threat of COVID-19, showed overwhelmingly that illness was a top traveler concern, and if hospitalized overseas, people would prefer to get home to their own hospital for treatment and recovery. Therefore, continuing to educate people as to the where travel insurance’s medevac coverage leaves off, and transport memberships like Medjet pick up, remain important.

Both studies targeted professionals across the country whose household’s net worth was valued at $1,000,000 and above. The poll process including assessing travelers’ understanding of their health, travel or business insurance coverages, and credit card travel program benefits. Nearly two-thirds of respondents who reported being “concerned about their health while traveling” were unaware of the inclusions (and perhaps more importantly exclusions) in their plans or benefits packages. Some of the study’s major findings include:

• Only 35 percent of travelers who reported being concerned about their health and well-being while traveling were aware that their health, travel or business insurance, or credit card travel benefits, could ONLY get them to the “nearest acceptable facility.” 65 percent mistakenly believed their coverage would automatically get them all the way to a hospital at home, or were not sure;

• While illness and injury were top concerns for travelers, only 34 percent of business travelers concerned about their health had ever looked into the conditions of their company’s travel and medical evacuation policies;

• Of those with corporate coverage, one in three respondents (33 percent) expected that, one way or another, their company would get them home if they became ill or were hospitalized while traveling. “For many companies, that means footing a $30,000 – $180,000 out-of-pocket bill, or potentially falling short on employee ‘duty of care’ expectations,” noted Hallman, “which can present a significant financial and legal risk to an organization.”

• Of those who reported being self-employed and traveling for business frequently, 77 percent reported never purchasing travel insurance;

• Younger respondents proved even less knowledgeable about what their health and travel insurance, or credit card travel benefits’ would do for them if they needed a medical evacuation; 86 percent believed it would transport them back to their hospital at home or were unsure.

“The greatest misconception among high-net-worth travelers is that, in the unforeseen event they were to end up hospitalized while out of town – be it in Peoria or Paraguay – they believe their basic travel coverage through a company plan, travel insurance or credit card would get them home,” said Hallman. “More often than not, that is not the case, which is why we see so many stories in the news about travelers stuck abroad, and why so many individuals, families, corporations and organizations (like the NFL) enroll in our membership program.”

“On the bright side,” said Hallman, “we found that 86 percent of business travelers were interested in purchasing additional medical evacuation coverage that got them all the way home, and 68 percent of business travelers were interested in purchasing travel security coverage in addition to the coverage offered by their company. So it looks like there’s plenty of continued growth to look forward to here at Medjet!”