Vacations are supposed to be good for your health, but what happens when you face a medical emergency in the middle of a trip?
In Natasha Richardson's tragic case, a fall on a beginner's slope at a Canadian ski resort was deadly. But many other vacationers have suffered heart attacks, strokes, car crashes or other accidental injuries. Last month, several cruise passengers on an excursion in the Caribbean were seriously hurt when the bus they were riding in lost control and veered into a ditch. Nearly a dozen people were airlifted to a Miami hospital for treatment.
Richardson, unfortunately, was not airlifted immediately and the hours spent in an ambulance driving from hospital to hospital may have delayed critical care. The luxurious Mont Tremblant ski resort in Quebec is several hours from a major medical facility.
But whether you're traveling to a distant region of Africa, on a cruise ship to Bermuda or across country on a road trip, experts say you need to be prepared for health emergencies. One way is to purchase travel medical coverage.
Jim Grace, president of insuremytrip.com, says having such insurance is like having a health-care advocate along on your trip. "You're going to want to have someone back at home saying we're going to take you to this hospital for the best care," said Grace. "They will help manage your care in countries where you don't speak the language," he said.
Insuremytrip.com offers coverage from more than a hundred different travel insurance providers. Travel medical insurance can be an upgrade to normal travel insurance policies or it can be purchased separately. In addition, travelers can add on medical evacuation coverage, which will pay to airlift you to the hospital of your choice. It's a good investment in peace of mind.
"It's a very scary thing for people, especially when traveling, if they're ever injured," Grace said.