How Global Rescue Differs From Regular Adventure Travel Insurance

A helicopter hovers over trekkers in the Himalaya

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As adventure travel continues to grow in popularity, more and more travelers are choosing to embark on active trips to more remote locations on the planet. A trek to Everest Base Camp or a hike along the Inca Trail has been popular for decades for example, but now there are also options to explore far off places like seeing Mongolia on horseback or going mountain biking in the Andes. The possibilities are endless, exciting, and open for those who are willing to push their boundaries and get out of their comfort zones from time to time.

Of course, those types of excursions bring a level of inherent risk along with them, as the potential for injury or illness runs higher. When you factor in the remote wilderness locations, it is easy to understand why most travel companies now require travel insurance before joining their trips. Adventure travel insurance generally offers a host of benefits, including medical evacuation coverage and trip interruption or cancellation coverage. The problem is, you have to read the fine print carefully, because not all insurance plans will cover adventure travel, particularly if it takes place at higher altitudes.

That's where a service like Global Rescue comes in handy. This alternative to traditional travel insurance operates a bit differently, but it provides the coverage and information that frequent travelers need to stay healthy, safe, and secure while away from home.

Global Rescue Is Not an Insurance Company

While many of the travel insurance policies designed to cover travelers come directly from traditional insurance companies, Global Rescue is quick to point out that it is not such a company. Instead, it is a membership organization that also happens to offer travel insurance products, along with a host of other services for its customers.

What does that mean exactly for travelers? For starters, Global Rescue can, and does, offer insurance policies that cover all of their basic needs. But the other services in the company's portfolio go well beyond just reimbursing someone for the fees incurred from lost bags or a missed connecting flight. While those inconveniences can certainly be incredibly frustrating, in the greater scheme of things they are fairly small potatoes when it comes to the "worse case" scenarios that adventure travelers could face. Global Rescue is more concerned about addressing more catastrophic issues, such as injuries and illness, a change in a country's security status that could lead to safety issues, or natural disasters disrupting travel.

A climber is evacuated from a remote mountain.
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Medical Evacuation Coverage

One of the most important services that Global Rescue offers is comprehensive medical evacuation services. That's something that a number of adventure travel insurance policies list as a perk of course, but the difference is in the details. Typically, most other companies will assist in transporting a client from their destination back to their home country, which can be incredibly helpful in times of need. But Global Rescue can organize and facilitate a field rescue from a remote location where such an extraction can be extremely difficult or even impossible for other providers. In other words, most insurance coverage will assist with transport back home once a traveler has returned to civilization. Global Rescue ensures that its members get extracted from just about anywhere.

Since its founding in 2004, Global Rescue has built an extensive network of contacts around the globe that it can work directly with when an emergency arises. That includes helicopter rescue companies, paramedics, field nurses, and other individuals who have the training and expertise needed to safely extricate someone from the field. The network is particularly strong in places where conducting search and rescue operations is especially challenging. If a traveler gets lost in the Grand Canyon for instance, there are professional and volunteer search and rescue teams that can quickly be called in by local authorities. That isn't the case in many of the more remote, and still-developing, countries that adventure travelers prefer to frequent. That is exactly where Global Rescue, with its network of contacts, comes in.

Case in point, Global Rescue is the preferred evacuation company for most climbers heading to Mount Everest or other major Himalayan peaks. Each year, during the busy spring and fall climbing seasons in Nepal and Tibet, the company coordinates multiple rescue operations, evacuating mountaineers, backpackers, Sherpas, and other individuals who find themselves in need of assistance. Those efforts require precise coordination between search and rescue teams on the ground and helicopter pilots in the air, something that the Global Rescue team has gotten quite good at handling.

Medical Evaluations and Advisory Information

Not all of the health conditions that we encounter while traveling are life-threatening, nor require an emergency evacuation. Still, travelers can face a wide variety of maladies and conditions while on the road, some of which can be difficult to diagnose and treat without assistance. Global Rescue can help with this too by providing access to medical professionals on a 24/7 basis. These doctors, nurses, and paramedics are on stand-by to answer questions and provide advice as needed, helping travelers sort through their issues and providing advice on how to treat the condition.

If that isn't enough, Global Rescue has also partnered with the John Hopkins Emergency Medicine Division to provide even more comprehensive advice and information. For travelers, that means having a wealth of useful information available should the need it.

A military helicopter preparing to liftoff.
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Security Evacuations and Threat Assessments

In addition to potentially requiring a medical evacuation, it could also be necessary for a traveler to need assistance getting out of a country due to a change in security status. This could happen in the case of a coup attempt, terrorist attack, or a devastating natural disaster, any one of which could disrupt travel in a variety of ways.

Depending on the situation, the company might even call in the assistance of a team of former Navy SEALs, Army Rangers, or other military personnel to extract a member from a potentially dangerous situation. Global Rescue's list of contacts extends into that realm as well, giving the company yet another resource that most of its competitors simply don't have at their disposal. This service is often used to assist company execs and expatriates living overseas, but it can be activated to assist travelers when needed.

Digging deeper into its rolodex, Global Rescue also employs a host of former intelligence officers from a variety of organizations that help it prepare threat assessment reports for its members as well. These continually updated documents help travelers to understand the potential dangers that they could face when visiting specific destinations,, including overviews of any health concerns, political stability issues, severe weather, disasters, and more. The idea is that members can login to the GR website at any time to receive up-to-date information about a place they are planning to visit in the near future to be better prepared upon arrival.

Other Services

Global Rescue's suite of services extends beyond just medical and security evaluations and evacuations. The company can also help travelers sort out lost visas and passports while traveling abroad and it offers translation services in 190 different languages as well. Should the need arise, GR can also refer members to legal representation in more than 160 countries and it can assist in transporting the remains of a Global Rescue member back home too.

Global Rescue mobile app for Android
Global Rescue

There's An App for That

One of the best features of Global Rescue coverage is the smartphone app that the company offers for both iPhone and Android. The app allows members to sign into their account and access all of the information that GR offers regarding a destination, medical advice, and emergency situations that one should be aware of. It also provides direct access to the Global Rescue command center, where customer service reps are standing by 24/7 to lend assistance. It even give users the ability to video chat with medical and security experts to get first hand advice on how to handle specific situations or needs.

Beyond just providing access to information, the app also includes a number of other handy features for staying safe while traveling. For instance, it has geo-fenced tracking and safety check ins, using a smartphone's GPS chip to allow others to follow along with the journey. The app also includes the ability to send messages to family members, even while visiting countries where they may not have a mobile texting plan. Perhaps most importantly of all, there is an integrated one-touch emergency assistance button that can be used to call for help when necessary.

Obviously in order to use the app to its fullest, a member needs to have a data connection of some kind, something that isn't always easy to find when a remote location. But, when a mobile device is connected to a network, this is a very handy way to stay in contact with the Global Rescue team.

Cost

Global Rescue memberships come in a variety of options for both individuals, families, students, and businesses. Individual annual memberships start at $329 per year, with coverage kicking in whenever the member travels more than 100 miles from home, either domestically or internationally. That level of service is also good for up to 45 days of travel each year, covering both short and long trips. Shorter term coverage for single trips of 7-, 14- or 30-days are available starting at $119. Those options are good for infrequent travelers who don't feel the need for ongoing coverage.

Those looking for more extensive services in terms of health and medical services can also jump up to the Global Rescue TotalCare plan. This option provides the same features as the Travel membership, but has more direct access to medical professional and care units. A domestic TotalCare plan begins at $275, while worldwide coverage jumps to $630 and up.

For a complete rundown of services and options, or to join the association, visit the Global Rescue website.

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