Norbert Figueroa a RoamRight Blog Author

What To Do On An Emergency Visit To The Hospital Abroad

I’m sure a hospital visit is not on your agenda for your trip abroad, but it is something that you should be prepared for in the event an unfortunate accident or sickness happens to you or a loved one while on the road.

Here I’m going to share with you what you should do to prepare yourself for your trip and what to do during and after the emergency visit to the hospital.

Before You Go Abroad

Make Sure You’re Insured

One of the best ways you can prepare yourself for an emergency is being insured.

Check if your current health insurance covers you in the country or countries you’re about to visit, what does it cover, and up to how much. Although many health insurance companies could cover "customary and reasonable" hospital costs abroad, very few will cover your medical evacuation back to the United States or country of residence. Medical evacuation can easily cost over $10,000, and sometimes up to $100,000, depending on your location and medical condition.

If using your primary health insurance, make sure to carry your insurance policy identity card and a claim form provided by them.

If your health insurance does not cover you abroad, it is best to purchase a travel health insurance policy like the ones offered by RoamRight.

RoamRight offers several coverage options that you can adjust to your travel style, destination, and extent of coverage.

Know How To Contact The U.S. Embassy (Or Your Country’s Embassy) And Where It Is Located At Your Destination

A consular officer from your country’s embassy or consulate can assist in locating appropriate medical services and informing your family or friends about the situation. If necessary, a consular officer can also assist in the transfer of funds. However, payment of hospital and other expenses is the patient’s responsibility. If you’re a U.S. citizen, you can find more information about emergencies abroad, here.

Know Where The Nearest Hospital Is Located

Do your research or check on Google Maps to find the location of the hospital closest to your hotel or accommodation. It is also useful to have the hospital’s phone number accessible.And if you don't know where to go, RoamRight policyholders have access to a 24/7 emergency call center, which has details on medical facilities around the world.

During The Emergency

Stay Calm And Think

I’ve been traveling the world non-stop for over four years and have already seen myself in three medical emergencies while abroad (Thailand, Italy and Brazil).

From my experience, I can say that you shouldn’t be afraid of seeking medical help abroad. Don’t delay going to the hospital for fear of being treated in a foreign clinic or by a foreign doctor; acting fast will help avoid complicating the situation. Should you or the doctor not speak the same language, there may be a translator available to help with communication.

Let Someone Know Where You Are

It’s difficult to get help from family abroad or travel companions if you don’t let them know you’re in the hospital. If possible, take someone with you for moral support or help to communicate and to deal with the situation if you’re unfit to do so. If you'll be in the hospital for a while, some RoamRight plans will even pay for a loved one to come to your bedside!

Contact Your Insurer To Let Them Know About The Situation

If you have travel insurance (which you should!), call your insurer to let them know about your current situation. In many cases, they could supply you with information about local hospitals and possible coverage based on your policy.

If you have primary travel insurance, some insurers might contact a local officer that takes care of the hospital bill according to your policy. If you have secondary insurance, you will pay the hospital bill and then file a claim with the insurance company to get refunded the covered portion of your hospital bill.

After The Emergency

File A Claim

Make sure to get and save all the hospital documents containing the information of your visit and medical case, including bills, payment receipts, referrals, pharmaceutical payments, and more. Download a claim form from your insurer or submit the claim online including the necessary documents. All that is left to do is wait patiently for your refund according to your coverage.

One of the best thing you can do as a traveler is always to be insured to have peace of mind in case of any medical emergency.

Do you know the difference between general travel insurance and travel medical insurance? Get the facts here!


About the Author

Norbert Figueroa

Norbert Figueroa, a RoamRight Blog Author Norbert Figueroa is an architect who hit the pause button on his career in 2011 to do a round the world trip. He's been blogging for over three years at, where he shares his travel experiences, budget travel tips, and a good dose of world architecture. From hiking Mount Kilimanjaro to diving with great white sharks, he is always on the search of adrenaline and adventure. Norbert is originally from Puerto Rico and he is currently based in Milan, Italy... when not roaming around the world, that is. He has traveled to more than 80 countries in 5 continents and his goal is to travel to all 193 U.N. recognized countries. Follow Norbert on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus.

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