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What is repatriation?

published: 26 February 2020
Read time: 5 minutes

If you have a medical emergency during your holiday, you might need to be brought back to the UK early. This can be very expensive – but travel insurance can help

If you fall seriously ill during your holiday it might be necessary to bring you back to the UK for treatment. This is known as repatriation. An emergency repatriation can be extremely expensive, which means you’ll need travel insurance to cover the costs.

Repatriation isn’t always as simple as taking an earlier flight home. You could need to travel back to the UK in a specialist air ambulance, or you might have to be brought home from a remote location.

Do I need repatriation insurance?

You won’t need to buy any specific ‘repatriation insurance’ policy. Instead, repatriation should be included in all standard travel insurance policies.

In most cases, repatriation is included in the medical cover portion of a travel insurance policy, but some insurers list it separately.

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How much repatriation cover do I need?

Your travel insurance medical cover – which usually includes repatriation – should provide £1 million of cover at the very least, although a good policy could go up to £10 million or more. This might seem like a lot, but medical care in foreign countries can often be very expensive, and the cost of specialist transport can be surprisingly high.

This level of medical cover ensures you won’t have to face the costs of expensive drugs and treatments, or even a rescue helicopter or air ambulance to bring you back to the UK.

Who decides if I need to be repatriated?

The decision on whether to repatriate you is usually made by your insurer. If you fall ill or have an accident while on holiday, your insurer will use a medical assistance company to help you – and the medical assistance company will keep in touch with doctors in the country you’re visiting. A specialist team at the medical assistance company will decide if it’s better to bring you home.

Depending on the facilities and level of care available in the country you’re visiting, you might be repatriated immediately to the UK to seek treatment and recover. However, in some cases it might be medically unsafe for you to travel. This is usually judged by a doctor treating you in the country you’re visiting.

Where can I get the best deal on repatriation?

Repatriation cover comes as standard in every travel insurance policy – but not all travel insurance gives you the same level of protection. A few extra pounds on your premiums could be well worth the cost if the worst happens and you need to be repatriated.

The best way to find a travel insurance policy with the right amount of cover is to use a price comparison site like MoneySuperMarket. Our price comparison tool is quick and easy to use – simply give us a few details about yourself and your trip, and we’ll do the rest. You’ll be able to compare hundreds of policies from dozens of insurers – and quickly see how much medical cover you’re getting.

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