What is Sanitary Return in Travel Insurance?

What is Sanitary Return in Travel Insurance?

When we go on an international trip, we need to think about everything: the air ticket, documentation such as passport and visa, the hotel to offer all possible comfort after some tours, tourist attractions, restaurants, and bars. And, so that the fun is complete and that there is no unforeseen event that could cause inconvenience during the tour, taking out travel insurance is necessary — and, in some places, mandatory, as in the countries that are part of the Schengen Treaty

Of course, it’s better not to have to use it, but keeping yourself safe while traveling brings you comfort and peace of mind. In this way, the only concern of travelers will be with the next destination. Within Travel Insurance there is a coverage called Sanitary Return and it is very important for a trip, even more so if it is international.

What is Sanitary Return?

The Sanitary Return is also known as medical repatriation, protection within the travel insurance that will cover the costs of transferring the patient who needs to return to his/her city of origin because of an accident or illness that does not allow him/her to continue traveling.

These expenses covered by the Sanitary Return can be quite heavy on the pocket if the traveler has not taken out Travel Insurance. But it is important to point out that this protection can only be used if the passenger needs to return to his place of origin and is unable to do so, due to his health conditions, by the common transport he adopted for the trip, such as the plane, train, car, etc.

In a case like this, in which the passenger needs to return with medical help and all the preparation, he can use an ambulance or a common plane that is adapted for this purpose, containing items from an Intensive Care Unit. The Sanitary Return can save lives because of the quality of care provided.


It is important to point out that all Travel Insurance plans for those traveling abroad must, mandatorily, cover the Sanitary Return. This is a rule by SUSEP, the body that regulates insurance companies. But, despite being mandatory, there is no minimum value to be hired.

Sanitary Return: how does your procedure work?

The return begins when the medical team of the place where the patient suffered the accident or has an aggravated illness decides that he needs to return to the place of origin to be treated. From this moment onwards, Travel Insurance must act and negotiate with the hospital so that everything is approved as quickly as possible.

The insurance is responsible for ensuring that the passenger has all the necessary treatment indicated by the medical team. In this way, it ensures that health and safety are protected. Treatment and transfer include the following items:

  • Medical team to accompany the patient to his place of origin;
  • Ambulance flight or an adapted flight with the necessary items for the treatment;
  • Ambulance;
  • In-flight equipment and infrastructure;
  • Coordinated embarkation and disembarkation of passengers.

Who decides if the passenger will need a Sanitary Return?

When an accident or illness occurs, who will decide whether the patient should return on a regular flight or use the Sanitary Return is the medical team that is treating him. In this way, the medical team will know which form of treatment to choose and the procedures to prevent the situation from getting worse.

In any case, it is necessary that the Sanitary Return values ​​are within the reimbursement limits that were contracted and included in the policy. If this cost is higher than previously contracted, the rest must be paid by the customer. Therefore, we always indicate the importance of reading the entire policy and having all the necessary support from an insurance specialist. Thus, in a more worrying moment, there are no doubts about the processes and values.

What is not covered by the Sanitary Return?

As with all coverage, there are some peculiarities that are not covered by the Sanitary Return. Being on top of this information is extremely important. Check out what’s not covered:

Medical expenses at the patient’s place of origin 

The insurance must cover all expenses of the patient until he arrives at his home, clinic, or hospital. When he is already in one of these places, the insurance company no longer has any responsibility with him, as its function, which was to bring the patient to his place of origin safely, has already been fulfilled. 

*The medical return that was not recommended by the doctor treating the patient at the place of travel will not be covered;

Return flight without the need for medical adaptation

If the medical team indicates that there is no need for the patient to return in an adapted plane to provide medical care as in the hospital, for example, the insurance has no obligation to bear the expenses or reimburse the insured for his return to the place of origin. . That is, this rule applies in cases where there is a possibility for the customer to return on a regular means of transport, such as a commercial flight. 

What is the difference between Sanitary Return, Medical Transfer, and Body Transfer? 

Now that we’ve delved into the Sanitary Return and how it works, it’s important to point out the differences between Medical Transfer and Body Transfer coverage. 

First, the Body Transfer is also coverage available in Travel Insurance. It aims to pay the expenses to take the insured person’s body, in case he dies during the trip. Within the limits informed in the contract, the insurance must transfer the body to the insured’s home or to the place of burial.

The Medical Transfer is for when the insured is transferred to a clinic or hospital that is closest to where he is, during the trip, so that he receives the appropriate medical treatment in the face of the situation.

This transfer can be done either by ambulance, private car, taxi or even, depending on the situation, by helicopter or boat. All this so that he arrives as quickly and safely as possible at a hospital or clinic.

Finally, the Sanitary Return is the coverage that allows the transfer of the insured who is undergoing treatment when he needs to return to the place of origin, but with medical follow-up, either in an ambulance plane or an adapted common flight.


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