It’s no fun reading through the fine print, forking out the extra cash in case something happens, or doing the research. But the reality is that travelers insurance is really important. You have insurance for your car, your home, and other things, but not getting travel insurance is like not getting insurance for your life. Just like something can happen in a split second at home, the same can be said for while you’re abroad. You may be somewhere with better medical care, or somewhere worse, but either way you’ll want to have yourself, things, and your itinerary covered.
But if you’re not convinced that trip insurance is of utmost importance then read through some of these travel insurance stories that will help you realize it could happen to anyone.
And if you think that the research for travel insurance is too hard, then I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be. I have a detailed post that breaks down exactly what you need to look for with travel insurance companies and their policies. I’ll give you a place to start your research, with World Nomads Travel Insurance, a travel insurance company I use and love. They’re great for backpacker travel insurance and adventures activities for single trip travel insurance or more.
And now, the travel insurance stories that will surely have you cringing, and learning the importance of travel insurance. Please note that some of these stories were claims of traveler’s using World Nomads, but not all were using this travel insurance company. Do you research, read the fine print, and find the company that works best for you!
A Solo Adventure Quickly Turned into a Medical Scare
The jungle floor rushed up to meet me as I stumbled forwards, sheets of rain smashing through the canopy, my world reduced to a throbbing red bubble. I was aware of just how fucked I was. I had been stumbling, crawling and crashing my way through the jungle for close to six hours now. I had no GPS and no phone. Just a fifteen year old map and a compass. I struggled dutifully onwards – my only chance of survival was finding a rangers hut I believed to be somewhere ahead.
I had not seen another soul for hours, visions came at me from all sides, clawing at my eyes and my leg, which was now totally useless. I had been in the jungle for three days, or maybe it was four, attempting to cross Costa Rica on a three week trek. On the second day, some foul spirit or, more likely, tiny bug, had crawled into a cut upon my left leg and promptly died. The pain was excruciating, my leg swelled to twice it’s normal size and walking normally was near impossible. I battled onwards, crawling uphill through a path turned to mud until finally, after nearly ten hours of torment, I fell through the door of the ranger hut. The next two weeks were a blur, rotating helicopter blades and shouting doctors, talks with surgeons (they wanted to amputate my leg) and hazy, painkiller induced, dreams that I was still in the jungle, still about to die. Eventually, I was shipped back to the UK, broken and unable to stand.
My insurance bill was in the tens of thousands of dollars, without insurance this life-changing injury would have been even worse. It stripped from me my career as a Royal Marine, it took from me my ability to believe in myself but it did not, thank god, take the small amount of savings I had accrued whilst working unloading lorries (hands down one of the shittiest paid jobs in the world). One mental breakdown and a plane ticket later, I arrived in India, nineteen and ready to take on the world again. I spent the next three years travelling Asia on $50 a week… Even when I was at my poorest, I always made sure I was insured. If you cannot afford insurance, you cannot afford to travel.
Find more from Will at The Broke Backpacker
When your Planning and Scheduling Still Results in Missing a Flight
In 2013, I moved to London on a working holiday.
I visited friends in Göttingen, Germany and spent a lovely week with them exploring their town.
When I left, I took an ICE train from Göttingen to Frankfurt. This journey took 2 hours so I left 2 hours early as I didn’t have to check a bag, and would have enough time when I arrived at the airport.
The train was great until arriving at Frankfurt Main Station. This train was supposed to continue to the airport 5 minutes away; but after announcements only in German, it turned out that the train wasn’t going to the airport now, even though all the signs on the train said it was, so I stayed on board.
The train then started moving…in the other direction.
ICE trains don’t make many stops. So unfortunately, this meant a 30 minute journey back to the previous station before I could go back to Frankfurt airport…but by the time this happened based on the schedule, I would get to the airport when my flight was boarding. I wouldn’t make it.
Thankfully, the conductor had a phone and I called British Airways so I could get a new flight for triple the price of my original one. My friend in Germany booked me a cheap airport hotel for 30 Euros and I would depart on my new flight the next morning. Everything was resolved before I got back to the airport.
I lodged my evidence & claim with the travel insurance company, who I had full cover with for this trip, and within a few weeks I had a cheque for £220 to cover most of my expenses for the flight and hotel.
It was a massive headache that was very upsetting at the time, but thanks to the insurance and helpful people, it was the most positive experience to have. My cover was the best £30 I have ever spent!
Find more from Toni at Enchanted Serendipity
Getting Sick at the Worst of Times
While backpacking in Thailand I managed to pick up a nasty cold the day before our group’s booked Chiang Mai mountain trek. I took a bunch of cold medication and tried to tough it out but after the 4-hour all-day hike I started getting worse.
We finally reached our mountain base camp for the night and I was a feverish zombie. The next day one of our guides had to drive me down a very rocky mountain path on the back of a rickety motorbike and pass me off to someone else at a nearby village.
Eventually, I made it to the Chiang Mai Ram hospital where I was able to call my travel medical insurance provider and after a bit of back and forth they set up direct billing will the hospital. I got checked into a very nice private room and all the saline and antibiotics I needed. After the medication started working and I rehydrated I was able to check out after 24 hours just in time for our flight to Krabi.
See more from Monica at MonMonEats
Travel Insurance Doesn’t Always Cover You for Everything Abroad
Opting for insurance on rented transport (when it’s not already included/required) can really save you major cash if something goes wrong.
A friend and I rented scooters in Pai, Thailand last year, she opted for the extra “insurance” on the bike. I think it was roughly an extra $2 or $3. It doesn’t seem like much, and a lot of people forgo it because the bikes only cost about $5 to rent in the first place.
But the catch is, if you so much as get a scratch, many unscrupulous companies can charge you hundreds. Well, long story short, she ended up crashing the bike (really badly, I might add, and even though nobody was injured the bike was demolished). But she’d gotten the insurance and wouldn’t you know, they just said “no problem” and handed her another bike, no extra charges or questions asked!
From Natasha at Boozy Backpacker
When Harmless Fun Turns into a Hospital Visit
When I was 19 and thought I was invincible, I worked in Cyprus for the summer and did something very stupid.
I went to Cape Greco, a beautiful cliff in the West of the country, where people were jumping about 40 feet into the crystal waters below.
Never one to turn down an adrenaline rush, I strolled to the edge of the cliff. I didn’t even feel afraid. And I jumped.
Halfway down, I realized something wasn’t right. I was speeding toward the water and my feet weren’t going to enter first; it looked like I was going to enter the water at a far less glamorous back first angle.
Turns out back first is also a whole lot more dangerous and painful. Because of the sheer height of the cliffs, the water felt solid when I hit it. It was the scariest few seconds of my life.
I got rushed straight to hospital, where my back was examined and I was told I had bad muscular damage; but I just felt incredibly lucky that it wasn’t something much worse. The doctor gave me an injection that knocked me out for 18 hours, then I struggled through the next few days on a cocktail of strong painkillers and muscle relaxants.
Since this happened, I’ve read many posts saying that travel insurance won’t cover these kind of idiotic injuries; for some reason my insurers didn’t object. I only paid £80 excess and I think the bill should have been more than £800. While I remain a ‘yes’ person, I’m nowadays far more cautious and do actually think before doing senseless things. And I will never cliff jump again!
Find more from Claire at Claire’s Footsteps
Always Research the Travel Insurance Company Before You Buy
I went to bed on Saturday night feeling rough but hoping a good rest would sort it out. However, on Sunday morning I realized something was very wrong.
Being Sunday, the clinics were closed, so I found myself at Nairobi Women’s Hospital – Adams.
I was soon diagnosed with severe pyelonephritis (kidney infection) and admitted to the hospital. Up until that point I’d been paying cash for each test/consultation/bit of kit. Once admitted, I phoned my insurance company to arrange for them to cover the bills. It was then that things got difficult.
It turned out that the hospital I was in was not familiar with accepting payments from international insurance companies. It was soon apparent that it was going to be impossible. As a result, I was instructed to pay the bill myself and claim it back on return to the UK.
On discharge, I was in a real hurry to leave as I didn’t have much time before my flight home. Yet it took a loooooooong time to get out of that hospital. They wouldn’t let me leave until I’d paid the bill, even though I obviously didn’t have the cash on me. I had to call my parents to beg a loan, all the time with the staff pressuring me to make the payment. I did finally get it sorted through several phone calls and bank transfers, but it was a lot of hassle for someone exhausted and in pain.
Next time I buy insurance, I’m going to pay more attention to the assistance that the company offers rather than just the cost of the policy.
See more from Sarah at Gutter to Globe
If it Works, it Works
Egypt. Land of the Pyramids. Also home to the illustrious ‘Pharaoh’s Revenge’. And yes. It really is as bad as it sounds!
We were a few days into our 10 night stay in Sharm El Sheikh when I awoke to what was quite possibly the most excruciating stomach cramps I’ve ever had in my life! My other half raided the local pharmacy but nothing was working. I clearly needed medical attention.
A quick call to the hotel reception and the Doctors nurse appeared. Next thing the nurse is prepping my arm for an drip. But where could he hang the drip? That’s right….from the lamp in the corner of the room…with a pair of surgical gloves. The drip he is about to put in my arm is tied onto a floor lamp with a rubber glove.
Whatever was in that concoction must have worked! The next day we made it down to the doc’s office and he presented us with a bill. The night before I had read our insurance policy and they advised for claims under £300 we could pay ourselves and claim back once we were in the UK. As the bill was only around £200 we stuck it on my credit card and made sure we got copies of receipts and medical reports.When we got home
When we got home I called my insurance company who emailed me over all the forms I needed for making a claim. After photocopying everything and sending the forms back special delivery I received a cheque for the full amount within 30 days. What was a stressful and costly time was resolved quickly and efficiently by our insurance company.
Find more from Lauren at Craving Sunshine
When You Learn of Allergies the Rough Way
I had been living in Costa Rica for a month when I first broke out in a crazy rash on my face. My lips swelled up, everything hurt, and I was downright miserable. I have had allergies to certain foods before, so I self-medicated myself with antihistamines and waited for it to blow over.
Two weeks later it happened again, but this time it was so much worse, to the point that my eyes swelled shut. I again started taking antihistamines that made me exhausted all day.
When that didn’t help I went to a pharmacist who decided I had Lupus and told me to get a blood test. I knew she was wrong, so I started doing my own research.
After Wikipedia-ing for a few hours I figured it out! Mango trees! Yeap, who knew that mango trees contain the same oil as poison ivy? I used to get insane poison ivy allergies as a child and I had literally been standing under a mango tree, picking mangos on both occasions before the reaction occurred.
I ended up going to an eye doctor (because my eye was so swollen I was worried it was infected) and was given some heavy duty antibiotics. Oh, and the doctor had a nice laugh over the fact that I was medicating myself with antihistamines that were doing nothing but making me tired.
It all cleared up within a few days.
Find more from Sarah at The Wanderlanders
When the Thought of Being Bitten Abroad Becomes Reality
Insurance Coverage for the Most Random or Surprising of Things
Last Autumn (or Fall to rest of you), I started feeling very dizzy every time I tried to move after lying down, I put it down to a cold. Since I was temporarily living in Vancouver, Canada, and I’m from Scotland, I let the symptoms continue for way longer than I normally would at ‘home’.
Two months later, I took action, paid $100 CAD (£50) for a GP check up and was diagnosed with ‘vertigo by cervical spine injury’, caused by blogging. After attending a referred physiotherapy appointment, turns out that it wasn’t blogging at all – I had ear crystals! After a few whacky body movements I was cured, at the cost of $175 CAD for two sessions (therapist offered me a check up and worked on my neck too, which was stiff from blogging!)
My insurance company asked me to complete a couple of forms and send photos of the receipts. Within a month the money was in my account (one of the reasons I went with the insurance company I did was because of their reputation of paying out speedily). I paid an excess which resulted in me receiving half of the money back – well worth it to have my balance back!
Still on the fence about travel insurance? Check out how affordable it can be. You’ll have a hard time finding cheaper travel insurance. It’s great both short and long stay travel insurance. How much is travel insurance? It’s different depending on what you want to do so find out a quote below!