What to Do in an Emergency while Overseas

You may have your bags packed, plane tickets and hotels booked and your itinerary made, but before that next international trip be sure to have a plan of action should an emergency situation arise. Knowing how to handle an emergency in advance will give you peace of mind on your trip, and it will make sure you’re not lost in a foreign land with no idea where to turn for help.

Call the nearest U.S. Embassy

The U.S. Department of State provides pertinent travel information for all types of international travelers, as well as contact information for U.S. Embassies. After you’ve chosen your destination, familiarize yourself with the closest embassy in advance of your departure. You should also consider registering with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). By providing information about your upcoming trip through STEP, the State Department can better help you in an emergency and provide you with travel warnings, updates and more.

Should you need assistance, contact the nearest embassy to ask if they can help or suggest resources to deal with your emergency. In the case of a major crisis situation, you’ll need to use the Task Force Alert service instead of contacting a local embassy directly.

Contact your medical travel insurance provider

Your current medical insurance policy most likely does not cover you outside of the United States. Purchasing medical travel insurance is a small price to pay should you need treatment while abroad. The cost is nominal in comparison to the potential havoc a hospital visit overseas could wreak on your pocketbook. An Atlas group insurance policy offers excellent medical travel coverage that also spans natural disasters, acts of terrorism, political evacuation, complications of pregnancy and more. Should an emergency situation arise, contact your medical travel insurance provider immediately to ask for help and to initiate the services you have paid for.

Additionally, stay ahead of the curve by keeping a card with you at all times that lists current medications you’re taking and any relevant medical history. You should also have on hand the technical information for any medical devices — like a pacemaker — in case those need to be serviced or replaced unexpectedly.

Getting home

Depending on the emergency situation, you may have limited options for returning home; know what to expect in advance so you can act quickly. Seek out travel insurance coverage that also offers emergency evacuation in addition to a 24/7 emergency medical evacuation benefit. That way you will be covered should the State Department issue a travel warning in your destination country and you need to leave.

Emergency evacuations through the U.S. government can be very costly — the equivalent of a full coach fare on a commercial airline at the time those flights are no longer an option. Once you have been evacuated on these flights, not only are you responsible for 100 percent of the cost, but you still must make your own arrangements to get home from the nearby safe location where you’re taken. Avoid that mess by planning ahead and purchasing a medical travel insurance policy.

Keeping these tips in mind before leaving on your international trip will save you money, time and keep you safer if an emergency does occur while you’re overseas.