I am an absolute advocate of having travel insurance. With the advent of comparison sites, you can get great cover at a super low price, and so in my opinion there is no excuse not to have it. It’s not so much about medical expenses, as some people are so rich that they would only be a drop in the ocean for them, but it’s more about the bigger picture.
The cost of repatriation can be anything up to £17,000, and whether that’s because you need to be flown home for medical treatment, or because you’ve passed away and your family are bringing your body home, that is not a small cost. Would you really want to give that financial burden to your loved ones?
I know of at least one person who needed to take out a loan from a short term loan company such as CashLady.com in order to pay their relative’s medical bills and to get them back home. Whilst there is nothing wrong with taking out loans, but being forced to take one out because a loved one was irresponsible can be a massive mental burden as well as a financial one.
For those not able to get a loan, or not able to borrow the amount they need, this stress can be overwhelming, particularly when added to the fact that a loved one is ill in a foreign country. I’m not going to lie, I’m quite judgemental when I see Gofundme pages for people who haven’t got travel insurance and bad things have happened. I just feel that it is stupid and irresponsible.
My mother and I had a big row earlier this year. She had gone abroad and was staying in a European city close to her cousin. She had gone with no travel insurance and her EHIC had expired! She doesn’t have great health to start with, and yes I know declaring medical conditions can put up the cost of the policy, but it’s a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things. Whilst away she had a fall (something which is not uncommon with her condition). 36 hours later she was in so much pain, she presented herself to the Austrian version of Accident and Emergency. She was diagnosed with four broken ribs and was hospitalised.
She was wracking up medical bills faster than you can even begin to imagine. She wasn’t able to fly, so was going to need to buy a new flight home as well and that was on top of having to pay her medical bills, which for an inpatient stay was not cheap. She was able to get her cousin to go to her hotel and get her belongings from the hotel room, so she didn’t have to pay for extra nights when she wasn’t there. Once she was discharged she wasn’t able to fly for a couple of weeks. Luckily, her cousin let her stay with her, but if she had been anywhere else, there wouldn’t have been a friend or relative nearby and she would have then been saddled with extra accomodation cost for an extended hotel stay as she wouldn’t have been able to check out!
She was lucky she only broke four ribs. If it had been worse, or she had ended up with a punctured lung, it is a very real possibility that she would have needed to have been flown home, or had to have more extensive and longer hospital treatment. Either way, I would not have been in a position to pay those bills, and so she has been suitably chastised!
We all seem to live in a world where we have the “It won’t happen to me” mindset, but for the sake of £10 (yes there really are policies that cheap) it really is not worth the gamble – and that’s whether you are on a short European city break, or backpacking across Asia for weeks on end!