My North Korean tour operator requires all visitors to have international evacuation medical coverage. What is that all about, I wondered. I had to make sure that my health insurance company covered situations should I need to be flown out of the country (most likely to China) for medical attention if the North was unable to treat me.
I had to call several people at work, then get on the phone with the insurance company itself, and ask them specifically if travel to North Korea, or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, was covered by my existing plan. There are always conditions and special situations that apply to insurance policies, and although I was initially told that my policy covered “international travel”, I had to wonder. I needed the specifics. For all I knew, there could be a footnote that rendered insurance coverage void if one travelled to a handful of countries. For example, Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan might be on such a list, yet what would be the chances of any City of Mississauga employee going to one of those countries, currently at war? The insurance people must answer the same questions every single day and I had to make sure they were paying attention. I didn’t want the reps to confuse the two Koreas, so I had to spell it out, using both the short and long form of the country name. They confirmed that there was no specific mention of North Korea on a prohibited countries list. I requested all the necessary paperwork, which I have since received, to present at the foreigners’ hospital in Pyongyang should any medical emergency occur.
Koryo Tours wouldn’t even accept my travel application unless I had all the paperwork from my health insurance company, and it is better to be safe than sorry in these matters. Fortunately I have never had any medical emergencies on any of my travels.