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Richard Branson and his wife were in San Felipe, Mexico, on holiday when an auto accident left him with a fractured femur and kneecap. The Red Cross originally contacted his insurer, Blue Cross, for approval of ambulance transport to Calexico and a flight from their back to his home hospital in Redwood City. However, the insurer would only authorize a flight as far as San Diego. But because he had an emergency medical evacuation membership, Richard was flown to San Diego first, where immediate surgery was performed. Following his surgery, he was transported from San Diego home to Redwood City. Without his membership, the Branson’s cost would have been over $7,500.

According to the US Travel Insurance Association, getting the right care, communicating with medical professionals and those back home, and paying for emergencies are issues that travelers may not even think about until they’re confronted with an accident or an illness, especially when abroad.

You’ve probably seen the option to purchase travel insurance at the bottom of your screen when you book your trip. Even if you check the box, how much does that travel insurance policy cover? As in Branson’s case, sometimes it’s not enough. Fortunately, he was part of SkyMed International’s emergency air evacuation membership program, an ideal—and affordable—supplement to basic travel and health insurance.

So why get it?

1. It’s not just for soldiers. Do images of that 70s show, M*A*S*H, or army choppers pop up when you think of “medevac?” Truth is, medevac—or medical evacuation—isn’t limited to the military. We’ve helped everyone from a baby boomer with a heart attack to a skier with a compound fracture return home.

2. You never know if you’ll get quality care when you’re far from home. If you’re in the United States it may be easier to find a qualified hospital, but what happens when you’re abroad? If the medical facilities are merely adequate, it might be in your best interest to be flown back home to get appropriate treatment.

3. It can save you thousands of dollars. Medical evacuation services can easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars. If you don’t have coverage, it’s an out-of-pocket charge for you.

4. Did we say SkyMed can save you thousands of dollars? Members of most HMOs and PPOs must return home once they’re stabilized in order to validate further medical cost containment. Basically what this means is that they won’t cover expenses unless you’re being treated within their network.

5. Our medical emergency air repatriation service takes you ALL the way home. Many travel assistance and travel insurance companies that offer emergency medical evacuation services will only take you to the closest appropriate hospital, which might not be what you want. See number 4 above.

6. We’ll make sure your travel companion goes home with you. We’ll also make sure your kids and grandkids get home, as well as your RV or vehicle. We’ll even return your pet!

7. It’s affordable peace of mind. With short-term plans starting at $9 a day, this is coverage that won’t break the bank.

8. You might not speak the language, but we do. We can connect you with a 24 hour-a-day multi-lingual helpline, providing a variety of services like emergency messaging, emergency payment aid, lost baggage assistance, locating legal assistance, and more.

9. Even Superman had his kryptonite. What we mean by this is something that can happen to anyone, anywhere. During a business trip, a cruise, an RV trip, a family vacation. It’s not that you anticipate it, but you can certainly be covered for it.

10. Because you’re a smart traveler. Smart travelers prepare for the unexpected. Go have fun—and enjoy the peace of mind knowing you carry the emergency medical evacuation insurance you need!

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