I was chatting to another blogging friend of mine, making jokes about the fact that we’d been travelling for years and never managed to claim much at all on our travel insurance. As a professional traveller I get asked a lot about buying travel insurance, and do you really need it. It’s a very topical subject that comes up all the time. Probably one of the worst stories of someone not having travel insurance is the Matt Scraff case where he was king-hit in Bali and put into a coma, needing brain surgery. The story is devastating but heart warming at the same time after pledgers raised more than $50,000 towards Matt’s medical bills.
I have many tales from the road concerning travel insurance and I wanted to share a few with you:
Julien gets Totalled
I met my kiwi friend Julien in on the beach in Colombia and awesomely ran into him again in Antigua, Guatemala. Only the next time when I saw him in Guatemala, his entire body was scratched and scraped from head to toe and his arm was in a sling. Sitting in the hostel reception eating raw garlic (apparently that helped) he told me he’d been in a bad motorbike crash that had resulted in the road acting much like a cheese grater, while his body was the cheese. As he was going through a round-a-bout a truck hadn’t seen him and knocked him straight off the bike. He was raced to a local hospital in Antigua, had gravel surgically removed from his skin, patched up, stitched up, mountains of antibiotics and other medicines thrown at him and was told to leave, free of charge.
I know, unbelievable right? What country gives a foreigner full, extensive aid and doesn’t even charge them for it? I think Julien was very lucky, probably a one-off case, and I couldn’t even say that all hospitals in Guatemala would have done that. I have received free health care in some countries, but never to that extent. At the time Julien did not have travel insurance so to have had the hospital treat him this way was definitely a blessing, who knows what could have happened otherwise.
Nothing Really Happens to Crystal
I’ve always had travel insurance when I travel, mostly due to the fact that I’m too responsible and scared something will go wrong that my family just could not afford to help me out of. I prefer to travel in countries that would be considered “dangerous” so I want to cover my stuff from being stolen just as much as I want to be covered if I was hurt. At the moment I currently employ two different travel insurances. One is the common hospital, equipment, delayed flight cover with a low premium that I use mainly to cover me should a bad accident occur. I also have another equipment-specific insurance to cover my really expensive computer and camera gear that I need for work.
I have never been put in hospital, or claimed for anything medical-related at all. I have been to a doctor a few times and each time the cover charge was either wavered completely or so low that it wasn’t even worth claiming. As for things being lost or stolen, well there’s been a quite bit of that. However, I have added it up and the amount I’ve spent on insurance has not actually covered the cost of what’s been stolen, so I am slightly out of pocket. I still prefer to buy the insurance, though, because I have no other financial back-up should something really terrible happen.
Chris gets Muy Thai’d
Chris and I met at a hotel in Luang Prabang, Laos. We’d decided to hire a motorbike and drive to a tiny mountain town in the middle of nowhere. Later, we realised that we were both going to be on Koh Rong Island in Cambodia for New Years Eve that year. And it was set to be epic! Two weeks before we were scheduled to meet back up on our island paradise I contacted Chris for an update on his whereabouts. He was back in America, in hospital. He’d been attacked by a group of Thai men on the street, and had woken up in hospital needing to take a flight back to the USA for emergency facial reconstructive surgery.
As horrible as this whole thing was it could have been an absolute disaster had he not had insurance to cover his hospital fees and the emergency flight. Chris has made a full recovery and is hoping to head back to South East Asia when he’s saved enough dough for the trip.
So should you buy travel insurance? Well I think so, but it’s ultimately your choice and every person’s situation is different. When you do buy travel insurance, always check the fine print as sometimes activities such as extreme sports and even riding a motorbike aren’t covered. Here’s some tips to help you work out the best travel insurance for you…