What is Emergency Travel Assistance?

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If you face an unexpected medical incident when you are travelling, the Emergency Travel Assistance (ETA) in your travel insurance is there to help!

Think of your emergency assistance provider as a concierge to your travel insurance policy benefits. Emergency Travel Assistance (or ETA) is provided by the expert team available to help you when you have your medical travel insurance in place. ETA coverage is available for the insured duration of your trip out-of-province or outside of Canada

The ETA team of experts is multi-lingual (helpful when you don’t speak the language where you are) and is networked throughout the world to service providers (so you don’t have to worry about finding help when you are not familiar with the area you are in).

If you have an unexpected injury or medical condition, your ETA will refer you to a local doctor, dentist, pharmacist or other appropriate medical facility. Then they maintain contact with you, and continue to monitor your care and the services you are receiving. They will help manage—and pay for—your eligible medical expenses.

How do you contact your ETA?

Your ETA provider’s toll free number will be listed on your travel insurance card. Can’t find the card? Check your policy; the number will be included there. Can’t find your paperwork? Go online to your insurance provider—the number will be listed.

Give your ETA your personal identification information and describe your situation. The ETA will verify your coverage and get to work for you. Stay in touch with them throughout your emergency until they confirm you no longer need to. Be sure to give them your hotel or another telephone number so they can stay in touch.

The amazing thing about contacting your ETA is that with just one phone call, you can get help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. An entire cross-functional team will work efficiently to coordinate emergency referral to medical care and case management, while providing cost containment for you and claims management support.

Check to see if your insurance provider has a travel assistance app you can download on your phone. It will also have the phone number and help connect you to information you need when an emergency arises.

When should you contact your ETA?

When a medical incident happens, you or your family member or travelling companion must contact your ETA as soon as possible. This helps to ensure that you receive immediate and appropriate care that is monitored by professionals.

Remember… call before you receive medical care (unless of course it is an extreme emergency).

What help can an ETA provide?

Here are services a typical ETA may offer during your period of travel medical insurance coverage.

Medical Assistance

  • Locate and access medical or dental facilities
  • Monitor your treatment
  • Update your family, employer and home physician on your medical condition, if required

Medical Evacuation & Repatriation Services

  • Coordinate flights and make arrangements for friends or family members to visit your bedside if it is recommended by your doctor
  • Return you and your travelling companion if you are in the hospital after your return flight leaves
  • Return your dependent children if you are unable to care for them due to your medical emergency
  • Transport you to a medical facility or your home country to continue treatment
  • Return your body if you are deceased

Legal Assistance

  • Help to transfer funds to you if your cash is lost or stolen
  • Legal and bail referrals

Travel & Document Assistance

  • Assistance in contacting the appropriate authorities to replace lost or stolen passports and travel tickets or documents
  • Assistance with locating lost or delayed baggage

Other Assistance Services

  • Emergency travel arrangements to go home if a family member is ill
  • Translation services
  • Help getting urgent messages through
  • Returning your vehicle if you are physically unable to do that yourself due to illness or injury

Paying for your emergency care

When you contact your ETA before seeking emergency help, your ETA will normally arrange for the service provider (e.g., a hospital) to bill them directly. Your ETA is able to guarantee payment or advance money directly to the service provider. They will also liaise with your provincial health plans and coordinate benefits with any other insurers involved. You will be asked to sign an authorization form allowing your insurer to recover any amounts payable by your provincial health plan. ​

Many travel medical policies require that your claim exceeds a minimum dollar amount (e.g., $200) before any payment arrangements are made with the service provider. Remember, your ETA will still provide assistance services regardless of the dollar amount of your claim.

Reimbursement of these out-of-pocket expenses is based on reasonable and customary charges as determined by your insurer. It may be made in Canadian funds and is based on the rate of exchange at the time of the claim. Your claim must be filed within the appropriate time frame as noted in your policy (usually a maximum of 12 months from the date the claim was incurred).

Now you know about ETA… never travel without it!

Vacations are for relaxation, fun and forgetting the everyday stresses of life. With travel medical insurance, you can relax that much more, knowing that you and your family have an ETA safety net in place…just in case. To learn more about travel medical insurance policies that suit your next adventure or to get a quote, contact SBIS today.


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