It’s time. Time to unload that big bank of frequent flyer miles you’ve been sitting on and take the trip of a lifetime. Around the world in business class. Maybe a big safari in Africa, a treacherous trip to Antarctica, or a five-star train trip and trek across India and Nepal.
That all sounds grand, but who would come to your rescue if something went wrong on that big, far-flung trip? Who would come pluck you out of a civil war in Africa or send in a medical team if your heart flutters and you’re short of breath as your Zodiac boat approaches the shores of Antarctica?
That’s something you should think about when planning a big bucket list trip.
Maybe you’re on a trek in Nepal when an earthquake hits like Jerry Rhodes and Mel Kaida were– stranded near Mount Everest after a 7.8 magnitude quake hit in 2015. Faced with what appeared to be no way out, they called in Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance, which found a way to extract their group using a Russian military helicopter. “It was like an angel coming down, it was amazing,” Kaida said recalling their experience in this video:
Redpoint Resolutions is a unique medical and travel risk security company owned and operated by special operations veterans and Stanford-affiliated physicians. It works with large organizations as well as individual travelers who need someone to call when trips go awry in far away places. Based in the Bay area, it now protects nearly 10 million travelers around the world.
I recently had a very interesting conversation with Redpoint Vice President Tom Bochnowski, about founding this unusual company how its rescue operations work.
How’d you get started in this business?
I started my professional career after college as an officer in the U.S. Army. After leaving the Army, I earned my MBA from Dartmouth College. I returned to Silicon Valley (where I grew up) and after working for technology companies for a couple of years, I realized I needed to be part of an organization that made a significant difference in people’s lives every day with a similar sense of shared purpose that I felt in the military. So, I left my technology job and started a security consulting firm with several other military veterans that eventually evolved into Redpoint Resolutions and our consumer travel insurance programs: Ripcord and Cavalry.
I’m incredibly honored to be surrounded by such talented people on our team, from paramedics, nurses, physicians and military veterans, to travel specialists, marketing professionals and client service experts. Working with this team and helping people when they’re having one of the worst days of their lives is incredibly exhilarating and gives me an undeniable sense of purpose.
What’s the most unusual or memorable rescue your company has completed?
One of them has to be the rescue last summer of one of our clients on a safari in the Central African Republic who had come under fire from members of the Lord’s Resistance Army. He was taking a break when soldiers started firing automatic weapons at him and at his Land Cruiser. As he escaped in his shot-up vehicle, we organized an extraction team, and ultimately flew him out of a bush airstrip on a twin-prop plane.
The most remote one would probably be our medical evacuation earlier this year of a client experiencing heart problems in Antarctica. We dispatched a critical care paramedic to meet him at his boat off an island by the Antarctic Peninsula, and medically evacuated him home to Ohio.
As far as mountain rescues go, it’s hard to choose the most dramatic one between frostbite cases at Mount Everest’s Camp 2 (21,000 ft. elevation), high-altitude pulmonary edema on Kilimanjaro, injured legs on K2, etc. We do a lot of those and they all involve helicopters rescuing climbers from potentially life-threatening situations.
What is Redpoint Resolutions, and why should frequent travelers know about it?
Both Ripcord and Cavalry combine elite medical and security evacuation services with travel insurance benefits such as trip cancellation, trip interruption, lost baggage, primary medical expense coverages, and will evacuate clients to their home hospital of choice when hospitalized (unlike standard travel insurance plans, neither requires the foreign treating physician to approve evacuation based on medical necessity). The difference between the two is that Ripcord also includes rescue from the point of injury or illness in remote areas. That is, if you’re hurt on a mountaintop, for example, or injured on a motorcycle in the middle of the desert, or on safari in Africa, our medical or security teams will come to get you. It’s very different than how standard travel insurance works.
How are Ripcord and Cavalry different from other travel insurance policies?
Other travel insurance policies will typically evacuate you for a medical condition if it is deemed medically necessary by the foreign treating physician, covering your transport to the “nearest appropriate hospital.” Neither Ripcord nor Cavalry requires the local treating physician to authorize evacuation based on medical necessity. Instead Ripcord and Cavalry empower the client to make care decisions on where they want to be treated. Ripcord is for remote travel, Cavalry is for travelers going to developed locations with access to local paramedics, ambulances and hospitals.
How much does it cost?
It varies, but an individual, annual Ripcord medical evacuation plan is $312, while an annual Cavalry medical evacuation program is $265. There are short-term policies for single trips starting at $95 for Cavalry, $115 for Ripcord. Comprehensive travel insurance policies are calculated based on the dollar value of the trip you’d like to cover and your age. For more information see this.
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