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When purchasing trip or travel insurance for a cruise vacation, most travelers do it as a precaution against a canceled trip, lost luggage or the like. Medical evacuation coverage is usually the farthest thing from their mind—like most coverage, it seems expensive. That would be “at least until you need it” but, what are the odds?

Fortunately for one of our SkyMed members, he liked to have his odds covered. He had been a SkyMed member since 2007, so he took his card onboard along with his sunscreen (and his wife) on a recent cruise to Mexico.

In the middle of the night, SkyMed Member Services received a call from Carnival Cruises stating that he had suffered a massive heart attack while in the middle of the ocean, just off the coast of the Mexican Caribbean. By the time the ship had docked in Cozumel, an ambulance was waiting to sweep our member off to the Cozumel Medical Center, where it was first determined he was not stable enough to travel and urgently needed a stent at a cost of US$50,000. As a Canadian citizen, our member had universal healthcare in his home country, but he had purchased no travel insurance—health or otherwise—outside of Canada.

As family members scrambled to put together credit cards to cover the costs, things got even worse. After an angiogram, his condition was downgraded when it showed he had 90% blockage in his arteries, which meant no stent. Instead, he urgently needed bypass surgery—to be done in Canada—, which would require a medical flight with a physician at a cost of US$56,000.

Luckily our member had his SkyMed card with him and Member Services had already been mobilized to take him not to the nearest adequate facility, but back home to Vancouver. As soon as he was stable enough to travel, he was taken onboard an air ambulance with a physician, a nurse and a respiratory therapist and flown out of Mexico, across the United States and on to Vancouver, where his doctor was waiting for him at his hospital. He had his bypass and is now on the road to recovery.

According to his son-in-law and their family, they could not believe how SkyMed saved his life.

His cost: the price of his membership.

The moral of the story: never travel without your SkyMed card! Seriously, it takes up less space than a bikini (and it covers a lot more!)

It can be a costly mistake to travel without coverage—even inside the US. What do you take with you when you cruise? Check out SkyMed’s short-term policies for your next vacation and travel safe, always! 

Lydia Gregory (221 Posts)

With a background that includes stints on the mastheads of an eclectic collection of Spanish- and English-language magazines, Lydia continues to indulge her love of writing and travel as Strategic Content/Social Media Manager for SkyMed International.



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  • Irving

    Lydia,
    Wow what a harrowing story! After reading your post, taking heed to what you pointed out in regards to being prepared for medical emergencies on a cruise is very advisable. Thank you for the very detailed and well written article!

  • cassandra goode

    I like this blog also another blog where from I get a high ammount of quality information & service. We are a full service, TICO certified travel agency with more than 40 years experience Located in the Niagara region but servicing clients form all of North America, offering the best possible travel rates We specialize in destination weddings, cruise groups luxury destinations.

  • Gerald Malcolm

    I guess I don’t understand the story of the man who suffered a heart attack while on a cruise, and he had his skymed card from 07. Was this story in 07, or was he able to pay the current membership to cover him? Are you covering people in Europe now? And where does the 100 miles measure from as we live 4-5 months in Maine, and the rest of the year in South Carolina?

    • Lydia Gregory Post author

      Hi Gerald! I’m sorry it wasn’t clear: the person who had the recent evac had been a member since 2007. I will try to clarify that a bit more. Many of our members buy yearly or 5 year memberships and keep renewing so they are always covered. We do have memberships that provide services for Europe… that would be our GLOBAL Emergency Travel Services memberships, available on our website. The 100 miles is measured from the members record “home” address. However, this limitation is waived with our Ultimate SkyMed membership, which provides services from wherever the member is, home or on the road. Thanks for writing and I hope this helps!