Insurance forum

Travelling without an insurance - a warning!

  • Jleef

    Joined Travelfish
    6th July, 2009
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 36

    Far be it for me to suggest to people what they do with their money - there are many who feel that buying travel insurance is a waste of time, statistically, and I met several of them on my short period of travelling recently.

    However, hopefully some of you will hear my story and think twice before going away without cover!

    I'll give the short version as if people really want to read more detail they can do on the blog - link in my sig. Whilst on Ko Phangan I came down with acute appendicitis. After one thing and another, this resulted in two operations at a private hospital on Ko Samui, resulting in a whole months stay and a total bill which I estimate to be around 14000-15000 GBP, not including the repatriation costs on a business class flight. The original policy for 6 months of travel came to 225 GBP so I rate that as a sound investment.

    I hope I don't sound self-righteous here but I'd like to advise those few of you who think that insurance is an unnecessary expense: you may think it's a waste of time and that it'll never happen to you, but I didn't think it'd happen to me either! Think twice before not bothering, your opinion may differ, but as far as I'm concerned travelling without insurance is one of the most actively careless things you could do.

    Also, whilst I said I'm not here just to endorse my insurance company, I would have no qualms in recommending STA for any UK travellers. Their insurance service was faultless, as was their 24/7 medical telephone support and their efforts to get me home as soon as I was well enough to fly!

    #1 Posted: 19/3/2010 - 21:08

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  • somtam2000

    admin
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    Location Indonesia
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    wow -- glad to hear you're ok, and thanks for posting your experience both here and on your blog. I had my appendix out in Bangkok -- luckily for me there was no followup operation required!

    So when is the return trip ;-)

    #2 Posted: 20/3/2010 - 05:45

  • swag

    Click here to learn more about swag
    Joined Travelfish
    28th March, 2007
    Location Australia
    Posts: 329
    Total reviews: 6

    Hi JLeef, thanks for the report. Very sobering story. Glad to hear everything was sorted quickly for you. The issue of insurance brings up some interesting responses from people. Personally myself we never travel without insurance never will. I have also stopped renting scooters in Asia as I don't have a motorbike licence in my home country so would not be covered in the event of an accident. You only have to see the banged up people getting around the Thai islands to see there are quite a few scrapes and more serious accidents.

    At my workplace there are a couple of guys who regularly travel to Thailand and never have insurance. I've given up trying to convince them of the value of probably $100 for 3 weeks travel.

    My next door neighbours had a terrible situation last year. There 24yo son wanted to travel to SE Asia. Unfortunately he had a collapsed lung 9 months earlier. As this was under 12 months the insurance company would cover him for everything except any issue involving the right lung. So after buying the insurance off he went. Flight from Phuket to BKK you guessed it, his right lung collapsed again. Ambulance from airport to private hospital,2 operations,flight for famely member, 4 weeks stay in BKK,cost to parents $24,000.

    In hindsight if he had waited 3 months would have been totally covered.

    all the best

    #3 Posted: 20/3/2010 - 06:50

  • Lother

    Joined Travelfish
    12th May, 2006
    Location Earth
    Posts: 214
    Total reviews: 31

    My travel insurance has also paid itself back many, many times over, mainly due to a 2-night stay at the Royal Angkor Hospital in Siem Reap (~ $ 1200).

    One thing I do wonder about though, how come everyone's travel insurance seems to be so terribly expensive? I get pretty comprehensive coverage for all trips shorter than three months for around 45 € a year, and the prices at other insurance companies in my North European country of residence are pretty similar. This is for traveller insurance only but covers all medical expenses without limit with the usual limitations (for extreme sports etc). I don't insure my belongings. As I see people paying 100-200 $ for their insurance per trip, are the prices that different in other countries or is there something I'm missing?

    #4 Posted: 21/3/2010 - 00:41

  • somsai

    Joined Travelfish
    1st March, 2006
    Location United States
    Posts: 563

    From #3 "The issue of insurance brings up some interesting responses". As far as I can tell I've never ranted about insurance here, have I?

    And I won't as I think the owners and World Nomads are maybe buds.

    But to give you an American outlook, because I'm self employed being sent back to the US on a medical flight could be a death knell. My regular insurer could just drop coverage as soon as I entered the country, so for me, I'd rather stay in SEAsia. I know many Americans feel more secure back home, I don't.

    And a heads up, the US is the kind of place they warn you about. Intensive Care Unit can cost more than $25,000 a day easily, that might be an average, better have a million in coverage or you could find yourself pushed right the heck out on the walk.

    #5 Posted: 21/3/2010 - 05:38

  • Archmichael

    Joined Travelfish
    23rd July, 2008
    Location Global Village
    Posts: 396
    Total reviews: 2

    Lother:

    Like others above, I too would not travel without the insurance. This thread is the first time I've seen prices quoted for buying travel insurance in countries other than the US. When we went to Lao and northern Viet Nam last year, for a month, it cost us 40 USD each (full coverage, including, god forbid, medical evacuation). Next trip, 5.5 weeks in Cambodia and southern Viet Nam commencing December '10, it's costing us 75 USD each.

    As much of an expense as that is up front, the cost of paying for medical care, etc., out of pocket while on the road would be a much greater burden.

    My advice (which is worth what you're paying for it, of course): buy the insurance!

    #6 Posted: 21/3/2010 - 09:03

  • Archmichael

    Joined Travelfish
    23rd July, 2008
    Location Global Village
    Posts: 396
    Total reviews: 2

    As another self-employed American, I second Somsai's post @ #5, especially the final paragraph.

    Which is why we are having the Mother of All Debates in the US right now (set to come to a climax Sunday, 21 March) regarding comprehensive (if not universal) health care for the citizens of this crazy country.

    But that's a topic for another thread.....somewhere else, probably.


    Cheers!

    #7 Posted: 21/3/2010 - 09:10

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
    12th February, 2006
    Location United States
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    We always buy travel insurance for our trips too. On this last trip, I paid $85 for 8 weeks in Thailand and Laos. That included a few additional bells and whistles, but what I really liked was the extensive medical coverage and emergency evac (both medical and civil unrest - a real bonus all things considered :-), which also included repatriation of remains. Compared to the cost of my air ticket, the travel insurance was a drop.

    If I ever needed it, I'd actually prefer to stay in Thailand for my medical treatment too, since I've always had high quality and more personal attention from the medical staff there than anywhere else I've lived. I've got good medical insurance here, and sometimes I still work in medical appts when I'm in Bangkok because it is usually better and easier. Regards.

    #8 Posted: 21/3/2010 - 10:02

  • CRASHT1224

    Joined Travelfish
    4th March, 2010
    Posts: 10

    May I ask what company you guys used?
    Ive been looking at World Nomads and got quoted $150 US for 2 months of travel..
    What company offers a 2 month plan for $80?

    #9 Posted: 21/3/2010 - 22:39

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
    12th February, 2006
    Location United States
    Posts: 2378
    Total reviews: 47
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    Hi CRASHT1224,

    This last time I used a company called Travelsafe, but I've used different companies in the past as well. There are two things I usually do to help keep the cost lower. First is to accept a bit of a deductable on the medical coverage. Even something like a $100 co-pay (deductable) can save quite a bit on the policy premium fee. The other trick is that I am not insuring a high trip cost. For example, on this last trip, the only prepaid thing I had was my airfare, so I only insured for a trip value of $500 or maybe even a bit less. Insuring for a trip value of even just $1000 would have nearly doubled my premium. That may not work for everyone, but it definitely works for me. It means the value of my insurance for trip cancellation, delay, and stuff like that is very low, but since what I'm really after is medical coverage, that works well for me.

    We also noticed that for most of the US-based insurance companies we checked, policy premiums for trips of under 30 days were quite cheap. My wife had a 28-day policy through AMEX with very good coverage, which even included a week of travel in the states, and paid something like $35.

    The World Nomads coverage looked good too, but included higher limits and coverage for a few things we didn't think we needed, which is why we selected a different company. I've been lucky and haven't needed to file a claim, so I can't say how good the claims service is for the company we used. Hope that helps. Cheers.

    #10 Posted: 22/3/2010 - 02:07

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  • Archmichael

    Joined Travelfish
    23rd July, 2008
    Location Global Village
    Posts: 396
    Total reviews: 2

    The insurance for our up-coming trip is with Travelsafe. It includes trip cancellation and delay, a very good array of medically-related coverages, and a variety of other things (such as baggage loss/delay, and so forth). 75 USD each.

    #11 Posted: 22/3/2010 - 04:05

  • somtam2000

    admin
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    Joined Travelfish
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    Location Indonesia
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    Certainly worth shopping around for a policy that meets your needs.

    Regarding the medical coverage, worth noting that given the standard of care available in Thailand, it would be unusual to be repatriated to the US or UK (as the OPs cases evidences) -- it is more useful when say in Cambodia and you'll be evacuated for better treatment in Singapore or Thailand.

    somsai - welcome to rant -- I've met the guys behind World Nomads and they struck me as a pretty fair pair. As I've mentioned elsewhere on the site, when we travel we use World Nomads. They're not the cheapest, but fit our needs quite well.

    Cheers

    #12 Posted: 22/3/2010 - 07:47

  • mattocmd

    Joined Travelfish
    13th June, 2007
    Location United States
    Posts: 365

    I met an Ozzy in Siem Reap who snapped his arm in half arm wrestling a police officer in Russia. Luckily he had (World Nomads) travel insurance...they flew him back to Ozzy business class and took care of everything.

    I never travel without it..

    #13 Posted: 22/3/2010 - 08:57

  • Archmichael

    Joined Travelfish
    23rd July, 2008
    Location Global Village
    Posts: 396
    Total reviews: 2

    And what lessons should we take away from all this?

    > Always buy travel insurance.
    > Never arm wrestle a Russian policeman.

    ;)

    #14 Posted: 22/3/2010 - 10:29

  • somsai

    Joined Travelfish
    1st March, 2006
    Location United States
    Posts: 563

    One lesson from the Russian arm wrestling story is that it matters who you get insurance from, things are never cut and dried. An insurance comapny makes money by denying claims but makes a good reputation by paying reasonable claims. If you're going to spring for insurance it probably pays to get one with a rep, not simply the lowest price.

    Somtam might well have been wrestling with a policeman on his most recent trip, things happen, having the insurance there when you need it is a big deal.

    Being part of a group helps too. By entering that discount code you are identifying what advertising brought you in and also placing yourself within a pool of future customers from that same source.

    But it works both ways. No Fraud! More than once on these forums I've heard of people wanting to be airlifted out of Luang Prabang and into Hanoi cause the bus takes so long and flights are pricey. Meanwhile they were sampling the cuisine, and complaining of stomach ailments. Another lady was helicoptered out of an African "game drive safari" for a case of Dehli Belly, when weak tea, rice and imodium might well have worked. Don't scam. I'll bet insureres have interesting stories.

    #15 Posted: 22/3/2010 - 19:51

  • CRASHT1224

    Joined Travelfish
    4th March, 2010
    Posts: 10

    The trip price jumps to about double when I enter my ticket price from the states ($1000)
    If I put in a lower price, would it void the policy? I suspect it would..

    #16 Posted: 22/3/2010 - 20:36

  • UsTwo

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2010
    Posts: 66

    Any advice for us considered too old to be travelling, by the Insurance companies?
    I'll be 67 when I make my planned trip, and it seems I should instead be putting my slippers, and reading the paper in front of the fire!
    I ain't that old yet.

    #17 Posted: 6/5/2010 - 12:03

  • CunningMcFar

    Joined Travelfish
    20th August, 2004
    Posts: 163
    Total reviews: 45

    @#16
    for trip cancellation/interruption coverage, most policies want to know the portion of your tickets and other upfront trip costs that are non-refundable. If you purchased totally non-refundable tickets, then you would insure the entire ticket amount. Airlines will normally specify a cancellation fee for cancellations of purchased tickets, usually in the $100-200 range, this fee is the only portion of the ticket that is insured, as the rest is refundable and therefore not insurable for trip cancellation/interruption coverage.

    #18 Posted: 7/5/2010 - 08:14

  • samh90

    Joined Travelfish
    13th May, 2010
    Posts: 9

    Just make sure your policy is comprehensive and that you answer everything correctly.
    A friend of mine from uni has a cousin stuck in BKK with a rare medical problem ( i cant remember all the details) but basically the bill is expected to be tens, if not hundreds of thousands and his insurance wont pay out as he failed to declare he had asthma before he went.
    To summarise, there's no point in taking out insurance if your going to omit any details, its as good as useless.

    #19 Posted: 31/5/2010 - 15:00

  • somsai

    Joined Travelfish
    1st March, 2006
    Location United States
    Posts: 563

    Sounds pricey #19, coranary bypass at one of the most famous hospitals in BKK is under 30K.

    http://www.bumrungrad.com/realcost/final-bill-estimate.aspx?ProcId=25

    The low price, high quality, and my comfort with being treated in Thailand all contribute to my lack of insurance.

    #20 Posted: 31/5/2010 - 23:56

  • SometimesTh-
    ai

    Joined Travelfish
    1st March, 2011
    Posts: 3

    I've used Southern Cross Travel Ins and have been really pleased. Costs me about $215 for 3 months. Made a claim last year no worries. Good overall coverage. Everything online including claim,

    #21 Posted: 1/3/2011 - 05:41

  • Couderc

    Joined Travelfish
    28th September, 2009
    Posts: 5
    Total reviews: 4

    Hi all,

    YES, if you are travelling to Cambodia or Laos you need insurance - particularly if you still have an appendix. My husband got appendicitis in the middle of Cambodia a few months ago. He had complications and I'm not sure we would have had the cash to cover the hospital costs as you can only get so much cash from an ATM per week. As it was, he could not leave the hospital before the insurance co. confirmed they would pay for everything (except the first € 100). Cambodian hospitals are cheap but it came to more than €1000 - quite a whack off the travel budget.
    We bought the insurance with the plane ticket in France - GO insurance - definitely worth it.

    #22 Posted: 27/5/2011 - 01:22

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