transport rescue health insurance

Emergency Transport, Search And Rescue: How To Insure the Cost

What part of the cost of emergency evacuation and rescue operations is covered by your Swiss health insurance policies? Find out here.

Transport, rescue, search and repatriation costs are a good example of how getting supplementary health insurance coverage can be useful in emergencies. Your obligatory Swiss health insurance policy only offers very limited coverage in this regard.

Search, rescue and transportation: What does compulsory insurance cover?

  • Your obligatory health insurance policy reimburses 50 percent of costs associated with transportation and repatriation to a doctor or hospital in Switzerland, but only up to a maximum benefit of 500 Swiss francs per year. Taxi transportation may also be eligible for this coverage. But depending on the nature of your emergency, you could end up paying hundreds of thousands of francs out of your own pocket, above the coverage provided by your obligatory policy. 
  • Your basic Swiss insurance policy only covers the cost of transportation when you can show that using other transportation (a private car or public transportation) was impossible, or that alternative transportation was not available.
  • If a rescue is required in the event of a life-threatening situation, your obligatory insurance policy will cover half of the cost, up to a maximum benefit of 5000 Swiss francs.
  • The recovery and transportation of your mortal remains in the event of death is not covered by your obligatory insurance policy.
  • A Swiss compulsory health insurance plan does not cover any of the costs of rescue services outside of Switzerland. It does cover a small part (500 francs) of the cost of your repatriation to Switzerland. Repatriations are generally very expensive, and depending on the means of transportation and distance involved, the costs can easily set you back several tens of thousands of francs. In this scenario, having supplementary insurance could save your wallet.
  • As a rule, the cost of transportation from one hospital to another for medical reasons is covered by your obligatory health insurance policy.

Search, rescue and transportation: What does a supplementary policy cover?

  • Good supplementary insurance policies cover the bulk of the costs associated with emergency rescue, transportation and repatriation. This coverage is normally bundled with optional outpatient insurance policies.
  • The actual benefits you get vary greatly, depending on which supplemental health insurance package you get. Comparing the overseas coverage that comes with different policies before signing up is a smart move.
  • The unbiased supplemental health comparison tool from lets you filter policies based on the “search & rescue in Switzerland” and “search & rescue abroad” benefits they offer. You can also sort comparison results using these criteria anytime by selecting them from the “Sort by” dropdown above the results list.
  • Only a handful of optional insurance policies offer unlimited coverage for emergency rescue and transportation. Many insurance companies cover a set percentage of costs (90 percent, for example) or place a cap on the maximum benefit you can claim (commonly between CHF 10,000 and CHF 100,000 per year).
  • The following supplementary insurance policies currently offer some of the best emergency transportation and rescue coverage: CSS myFlex, Helsana Completa, Helsana Top, Innova Sanvita Plus Zwei.
  • Note for Rega patrons: Rega offers consultation when you encounter medical issues abroad and organizes repatriation flights – either in a Rega air ambulance or on a passenger airline. Rega charges your insurer for the cost of transporting you back to Switzerland, and covers additional repatriation costs which are not covered by your insurance policies. However, your Rega membership does not provide coverage for the costs of care you receive abroad (hospital stays or doctor visits, for example).
  • Travel insurance policies and some credit card insurance benefits also cover the cost of search and rescue operations. Just make sure you understand the benefit limits.
  • Note for auto-club members: Your VCS or TCS travel insurance policy does not give you comprehensive coverage for all possible costs. The maximum benefit towards emergency search and rescue services is limited to 10,000 Swiss francs (VCS) or 30,000 Swiss francs (TCS). A VCS membership does not cover the costs of treatment by doctors or hospital stays. So in some cases, supplementary health insurance coverage could also pay off for TCS and VCS members.
  • It is absolutely crucial that you keep all receipts provided by rescue and transportation service providers. Without these, you may not be able to claim insurance benefits.

Your team

More on this topic:
Supplemental health insurance: compare premiums and services
Health insurance comparison
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