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Study Reveals Major Misconception About Travel Safety Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Misconceptions leave travelers at risk.

Photo by KaLisa Veer via Unsplash

Since the arrival of COVID-19, life hasn’t been the same. Over a year into the pandemic, we’re still constantly having to educate ourselves on how to best stay safe, and for those looking to start traveling again, concerns over how to travel safely have been elevated.

That’s why Worth and Medjet, the industry leader in air medical transport and crisis response memberships for travelers, united forces to run two polls to further understand travelers’ knowledge on safe travel and how to best protect themselves. The most recent study, which builds on an unpublished study from fall of 2019, was distributed to participants in December 2020 and January 2021 to get an update on travelers’ sentiments after such a tumultuous year.

According to the new poll, 87.5 percent of respondents were already traveling or planning to travel sometime in 2021. With many destinations now requiring medical evacuation insurance, 85 percent of respondents felt they knew “about the same or less” about their medevac coverage coming out of the pandemic, and 64 percent admitted they “felt they should know more.”

“Even before the threat of COVID-19, polling showed overwhelmingly that health was a top concern, and that if hospitalized overseas, people would prefer to get home for treatment and recovery,” said Mike Hallman, CEO of Medjet, “yet most coverages don’t do that.” The study revealed that 65 percent of travelers mistakenly thought that their travel coverage, through work, health, travel or credit card insurance policies, would get them moved to a hospital at home, but according to Hallman, “most only evacuate to the nearest acceptable hospital.”

From a business standpoint, having the right coverage can be beneficial for both safety and financial purposes. According to Hallman, “For many companies, getting a patient home when hospitalized while traveling may mean footing a $30,000 – $180,000 out-of-pocket bill, or potentially falling short on employee ‘duty of care’ expectations, which can present a significant financial and legal risk to an organization.”

One finding showed that 77 percent of travelers who reported being self-employed have “never” purchased travel insurance. For business travelers with corporate coverage, only 34 percent had ever looked into their company’s medevac policy, and over a third of them assumed their company would “somehow get them moved home.” Not surprisingly, the study also revealed that travelers between the ages of 18 and 34 had the least amount of knowledge about what their health and travel insurance covers.

While many medical evacuation programs and plans exist, Medjet pioneered the industry—first introducing its membership concept in the U.S. in 1991—and has since built an unparalleled foundation of trust amongst international travelers, major corporations and luxury travel agencies. Not only is enrollment easy, but Medjet also offers an abundance of options; travelers can get coverage with just a few clicks and enroll themselves in their preferred membership, which varies by membership type, term, type of travel and more.

And with travel gearing up and safety more important than ever, now is the time to make medical evacuation insurance a priority.

“The results of both of our 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 travel security,” added Hallman. “There are massive misconceptions among business and leisure travelers of all ages as to if, when and how they are protected.”

He continued, “This is why we see so many stories in the news about travelers stuck in hospitals abroad, and why so many individuals, families, corporations and organizations (like the NFL) enroll in Medjet’s membership program.”