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How can you prepare for medical emergencies before you go abroad?

Between the language barrier and healthcare systems that differ greatly from one country to another, managing a medical emergency abroad can be complicated. Whether on a trip with friends, traveling the world alone or moving abroad with your family, it is essential to be properly prepared to enjoy peace of mind when you leave.

Choose the international health insurance that best fits your needs

One key step before your departure is to take out international insurance coverage that suits your needs, your destination and the type of trip you have planned. Prefer an insurer that can be easily contacted from abroad and which offers swift reimbursements, with immediate precertification in the event of hospitalization.


Before selecting your healthcare plan, remember to check that your country of destination is actually covered and to take out repatriation insurance or other complementary options which may prove necessary.


Do not hesitate to contact the insurer to find out which steps to take in the event of a medical emergency. Obtain information on reimbursement conditions, waiting periods and the supporting documents required when submitting your claims.

Prepare a health record

A health record includes all the important information concerning your state of health. It is particularly useful in the event of an emergency. You can write it in the local language or in English. Then print it out and keep it in your wallet so you always have it handy.

Here are the main points to be stated on your health record:

  • Your full name, nationality and date of birth;
  • The telephone number, email address, address and name of an emergency contact;
  • The main food or drug allergies you have;
  • If you suffer from a chronic illness or other condition: diabetes, high or low blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, epilepsy, etc.
  • Your blood group;
  • A history of any surgery you have undergone;
  • Any prescription drugs you are taking;
  • Any other important information regarding your state of health.

Prepare a first-aid kit

An essential item in any traveler’s suitcase, the first-aid kit must contain all you need to deal with an urgent medical problem effectively. Ideally, you should consult your usual general practitioner prior to departure to obtain advice on the material and drugs to purchase. Remember to ask for a prescription if you take specific treatment.

Find out all you can about the local healthcare system

Remember to obtain information about the healthcare system in your country of destination and the quality of healthcare. Note down the hospitals, clinics and health centers closest to where you will be staying.

Write down the number to call the emergency services in the country you are traveling to. If you are preparing a trip to Europe, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey or Israel, you can dial 112, a free number valid in all these countries.

Download the MSH mobile application to locate healthcare professionals

If you have taken out international insurance coverage with MSH, download our dedicated mobile application. You can use it to geo-locate healthcare professionals near you, across the globe.

Once you have arrived at your destination, you will be able to identify the professionals in your city who speak your language, and who are members of the MSH network (in which case they will accept direct billing for some medical expenses). The application can also be used to access your insurance policy with a single click and you can directly upload photos of your medical bills to the application to submit your claims.

With a little preparation, you’re ready to travel with peace of mind!

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