I use to find myself asking the question of whether or not I needed to buy travel insurance each time I went overseas. It wasn’t until I actually fell ill in a foreign country with limited access to specialist doctors that I realised just how important it was. I now see travel insurance as a non-negotiable when I travel because I’m of the cautious and pre-emptive mindset and I’d rather spend a few hundred (if that) now then a few thousand later should something happen.
After I graduated from what was probably the most gruelling five years of my life completing a degree that I absolutely hated, I decided to treat myself to a three-month holiday in Europe. I worked, I saved and I borrowed in order to go on this trip around Europe with the first month of travels with my mom and gran and the rest solo. Sadly I never made it to the solo part of my trip and guess what? This was the most expensive part of my trip and being the anal control freak that I am – I had pre-booked and paid for 85% of it.
Whilst my mom and gran went on a short cruise around Greece, I went on a trip through Italy from Venice down to the Amalfi Coast before re-joining the matriarchs of my family in Budapest. Somehow during that week or so I had managed to contract a skin virus that resulted in me breaking out in concentrated hives and spots on my upper body. It started with the odd spot on my chest that itched like a m*ther f*cker but I thought nothing of it and within a few days it had spread into patches across my body.
It got to a stage where the areas on my arms affected, chest and neck were so inflamed and swollen with these unknown hives that we needed to call a doctor to the hotel. The itch was unbearable and no amount of ice-packs could keep the heat from radiating all over my body. When the doctor finally arrived at our room, he couldn’t have been older than 25 and I had to resist the urge to ask if he was still studying. He proceeded to tell me that I had a case of the chicken pox which I knew was impossible; I’ve had both chicken pox (early childhood) and shingles before and this looked nothing like it.
Our kid doctor prescribed antihistamines thinking it was an allergy and no surprise there that it didn’t work at all because I wasn’t allergic to anything. We called the doctors again and they sent someone slightly older who prescribed antibiotics. Here I was in a country where the doctors were barely old enough to practice medicine and couldn’t understand what we were trying to communicate. Panic really started to set in because I was starting to resemble a leper with my outbreak and I was too shy to leave the hotel room in case people thought I was an extra from the Walking Dead.
I flew from Budapest to Belgium where I met my partner (ex-husband now) at the airport and he drove me to the hospital in the small coastal town of De Panne. The doctors thought I was suffering from an infection and immediately hooked me up to an IV drip of penicillin and prescribed two weeks worth of antibiotics. Did I get better? Nope. Was my hospital visit expensive? Yep.
I got to the stage where there was literally nothing left to do but to peel the skin off my body. Ok, we didn’t do that but we had exhausted all options and doctors were perplexed and speculated that I may have had a bad reaction to bed bug bites or some other insect but couldn’t really be sure. We attempted to continue with the planned itinerary of travel and went to Barcelona where I had to visit the hospital once again to be treated for an actual infection this time. It was then that I decided to cancel the rest of my solo travel planned because I felt defeated and was sick of touring hospitals throughout Europe.
Lucky for me I had purchased travel insurance that reimbursed me for all my hospital and medical costs during this period and also covered me for the cancellations that I had to make for my flights, train tickets, hotels and tour costs. I didn’t recoup 100% of it but it sure beats recovering nothing. So here are the reasons why you need to consider purchasing travel insurance the next time you travel.
Why You Need to Buy Travel Insurance
As in my case, this became a crucial element for recouping the money I had to pay out of pocket upfront for all the medical attention I received in various countries. You can take all the precautions to stay healthy and safe but sometimes sh*t just happens and hospital bills become incredibly expensive particularly in first world countries.
Lost or Stolen Items/Baggage
I’ve almost had my bags stolen right in front of my eyes in South America on the very last day of my trip. It’s always reassuring to know that if the rat bastard had actually gotten away with my bag that the insurance company would be able to recoup some of my losses and it wouldn’t be a complete and utter loss.
If you’re someone like me and carry around cameras and other high value tech-items then you will want to find appropriate cover for these in case they land in water or are stolen. Just make sure you read the policy properly to see what is covered and most reputable travel insurers will have the option to add on high value items cover to the policy.
Trip Cancellation or Delays
If for some reason you need to cancel your trip unexpectedly due to a family tragedy for example or have the unfortunate luck of experiencing a serious delay, you may be able to recover some of those costs from your insurer. These can usually include missing your connecting flight and starting the domino effect of missing all your other connections or just having your flight cancelled all together.
There are many other reasons why you would get travel insurance but those would be my Top 3 if you need justification for purchasing it. This doesn’t mean however that you can be reckless and think that anything that could go wrong will be covered. I’ll go over what you need to look for in a good travel insurance policy in another post and will point out the things you need to look out for when deciding who to go with. Let me know if you have any burning questions about it that I can help answer.
I came across this hilarious quote on Weekend2Wander that basically sums up this entire post nicely…
“Travel Insurance is like a condom; better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.”
Have you got any stories that you want to share where travel insurance saved you?
We recommend checking out World Nomad for travel insurance if you’re always on the go as they cover all the basic essentials you’ll need. The company was founded by a fellow traveller and is recommended by many travel companies for its competitive pricing and service.
Check out my ultimate travel checklist post here and you’ll be prepared for every trip.