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Garmin’s Acquisition of GEOS Might Affect Those With Additional Evacuation Coverage Who Activate inReach SOS Function

Early last year, Garmin announced the acquisition of emergency monitoring and incident response service GEOS Worldwide Limited, which operates the International Emergency Response Coordination Center (IERCC) for SOS rescue efforts triggered by Garmin’s inReach personal satellite communication device.

“With this acquisition, Garmin is now able to provide even more peace of mind to our inReach users,” said Brad Trenkle, vice president of Garmin’s outdoor segment. “In an emergency, every moment matters. The addition of the IERCC to the Garmin family reinforces our commitment to helping our active lifestyle customers make it home safe from their adventures.”

While the inReach device is one of the go-to satellite communications devices in the overland space, some consumers choose to purchase additional insurance from companies like GEOS, Global Rescue, and Redpoint. In light of this acquisition, the relevant question for overland travelers is, how do medical evacuation plans outside of Garmin or GEOS currently integrate with the inReach device?

Garmin’s Director of Global Corporate Communications advised that the company offers monitoring and rescue coordination as part of every inReach plan they sell, plus “optional search and rescue coverage to cover costs associated with incidents (some restrictions apply).” Response coordination is based on “established relationships with local entities based on the type of incident and does not consider insurance coverage in our criteria or procedures for incident response (this is true for coverage we sell or secured from a third party). I can confirm that the Garmin IERCC follows up and responds any time an SOS is triggered by one of our customers.” Garmin encourages current customers to review their coverage each time it renews to completely understand the coverage.

However, those holding a Global Rescue plan should be aware that according to the provider, “GEOS is refusing to notify Global Rescue when a Global Rescue member activates the SOS button. GEOS has the capability to monitor the progress of a rescue conducted by Global Rescue, yet continues to refuse cooperation due to liability issues.” In light of this, Global Rescue strongly recommends two-way communication. In case of emergency, the provider will need to be updated with the policy holder’s location, physical state, and weather conditions via cell phone or satellite phone (24-hour support is available), email, or mobile application.

Plan member and overlander Bill Ketterer was told that upon activating the SOS button on his inReach device, Global Rescue would not be notified to arrange evacuation services. To work around this, the insurance provider has advised members to send an email from their communication device to Global Rescue, rather than activating the SOS signal.

Redpoint did not respond to my inquiry. However, the company did tell Ketterer to list them as one of his emergency contacts, and Garmin/GEOS would contact them directly.

It seems the best thing to do as overland travelers is to review your inReach plan in detail and reach out to any additional rescue plan providers to clarify. Read our Buyer’s Guide to Travel, Rescue, and Medical Evacuation Insurance for more information.

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Ashley Giordano completed a 48,800-kilometer overland journey from Canada to Argentina with her husband, Richard, in their well-loved but antiquated Toyota pickup. On the zig-zag route south, she hiked craggy peaks in the Andes, discovered diverse cultures in 15 different countries, and filled her tummy with spicy ceviche, Baja fish tacos, and Argentinian Malbec. As Senior Editor at Overland Journal, you can usually find Ashley buried in a pile of travel books, poring over maps, or writing about the unsung women of overlanding history. @desktoglory_ash