Air ambulances in California, such as Life Flight, are used to transport severely injured or ill patients who need immediate medical attention or specialized care when transferring from one facility to another. The prevalence of these ambulances is growing, and more than 550,000 people used these services in 2018. Likely due to an increasing elderly population and changes in emergency healthcare delivery, the number of air ambulance businesses has grown over 250% since 2002.
In 2021, roads throughout the U.S. were more dangerous than they had been in the ten years prior. It isn’t just car accidents that create the need for air ambulances; there are endless scenarios that could create an emergency situation that would require Life Flight assistance. For example, hiking trails are extremely popular in California, and hikers in distress after a fall may need Life Flight or a similar service to transport them.
Life Flight and Insurance Coverage
Despite the growing demand for Life Flight in California and similar services throughout the country, insurance coverage for this transportation is not guaranteed. If your insurance does not cover air ambulance transportation, you will likely be wondering how much it costs to use Life Flight in California.
The exact cost will depend on numerous factors, including the distance required to transport you to a hospital and what your medical needs are. However, the average total ranges from $36,000 to $40,000. Few people could afford such a high out-of-pocket cost, but medical emergencies that require Life Flight services cannot be ignored. It is almost always a life-or-death situation if an air ambulance is involved. This means that costs associated with a serious accident and subsequent injuries can easily creep toward six figures.
Why Don’t Insurance Companies Cover the Cost?
Some insurers will provide full or partial coverage for these services, but many will not. Your insurance company or policy documents are the best resources for determining whether air transportation is covered. However, even looking at your policy documents may not address your questions, as coverage for something like an air ambulance is often at the discretion of the insurance company and is decided on a case-by-case basis.
If yours is one company that refuses to cover the costs of Life Flight or a similar service in California, this can be a reminder that insurers are for-profit entities. It can be easy to forget that insurance companies exist to make money. Friendly representatives and helpful claims specialists may convince you that they are on your side, but the truth is that your insurance company is a business focused on growing profits and limiting expenses, not doing the most good for its customers.
When Your Life Flight Coverage is Denied
Insurance companies often use ambiguous or vague language in their policies, leaving room for interpretation and confusion when you have a question about your coverage. It is not uncommon for insurers to deny claims for Life Flight transportation for various reasons, including a lack of medical necessity or unreasonable costs.
An important fact you should know about insurance denials is that California requires insurers to act in good faith when evaluating your claim. This good faith requirement applies to all contracts in California, including your insurance policy.
Good Faith Requirement
Because insurance policies are considered to be contracts between the insurer and the insured, they are subject to the good faith and fair dealing requirement. Both you and your insurance company must act to satisfy your obligations according to the policy. Neither party in a contract can try to prevent the other party from accessing the benefits of the contract. What does this mean for insurance companies and Life Flight claims in California? It means the company is required to reasonably consider your request for coverage of these air ambulance services.
Your insurance policy likely includes terms and conditions that require the insurer to pay for any covered risks, investigate claims, and exercise good faith when settling these claims. If you think your insurance provider violated California’s good faith requirement, you may want to speak with an attorney for guidance. There are potential legal remedies available for these situations.
An insurance company acting in bad faith may look like one of the following:
- Unreasonably delaying an investigation into your claim
- Misrepresenting your benefits or policy coverage
- Refusing to communicate with you in a timely manner
- Not explaining why they denied your claim
- Delaying or denying payment of a claim
Seeking Legal Remedies
If you needed Life Flight transportation in California due to a severe accident, a personal injury claim can be another way to receive assistance with the cost of the air ambulance when your insurance company refuses to pay. Personal injury settlements and judgments can include compensatory damages and punitive damages.
Life Flight services would fall into the compensatory damages category, specifically economic damages. These include hospital bills, property replacement or repair, and other costs that have an easily determined value. Alternatively, non-economic damages are more challenging to quantify as the value can be subjective. This would include damages like pain and suffering.
While a specific outcome can never be guaranteed, partnering with an experienced California injury attorney ensures your case is solid and helps ease much of the stress involved in litigation and claims negotiation. The Accident Network Law Group offers free consultations, so contact one of our locations today to schedule your appointment.