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Costs and worst case scenarios if you have an accident abroad and not covered by insurance

May 2010

As you anticipate going on your trip overseas, you review once again the checklist of items you will need: comfortable clothes, cosmetics and medications, up-to-date passport, money, guide books, and the contact information for friends you plan to visit. You might think your list is complete, but if you have not purchased travel insurance, you may well be setting yourself up for physical and financial catastrophe.

Perhaps you are thinking to yourself that travel insurance might be a good idea for older people or those who plan to engage in risky activities such as mountain climbing. You, however, are young and healthy and do not intend to put your life in jeopardy in any way. Unfortunately, the crucial word is "intend." Accidents and illnesses can befall anyone.

Consider the example of a young man traveling in Thailand who sustained serious injuries after a fall down a rocky cliff. After the costs of medical care and a helicopter trip back to the mainland, he received a bill for over two million U.S. dollars. Luckily for him, he had purchased travel insurance in advance, but imagine how horrible would be his plight had he not done so.

Another potential danger is illness. What if you were to contract a tropical disease or have a major medical problem such as a stroke or heart attack while abroad? Even the youngest and healthiest people can unexpectedly fall victim to such conditions from time to time. You certainly would not want to compound the stress of such a situation with thousands of dollars worth of medical bills that you have no way to pay-especially if purchasing a relatively small amount of insurance in advance will relieve you of any fear of that burden.

How much insurance should you take out? Most experts say you should purchase at least two million Pounds of insurance at minimum. Be sure it offers 24-hour emergency service and repatriation in the event that you need to be flown home. Also, check to be sure you are not already covered by policies through your health insurance, credit card, bank account, or your country of origin. Europeans, for instance, get basic insurance through the EHIC in many EU countries. Finally, as your mother probably always told you, it's essential to read the fine print and to be prepared. Know exactly what your policy entails and how to make a claim. Carry copies with you and leave some with family and friends back home in case yours gets lost.

Now you are truly ready to set off on that vacation you have anticipated for so long. Armed with the information and coverage you need, you will be well equipped to handle any unexpected illness or accident. Most important, you have the security of knowing that you have a safety net just in case you need it.

Remember if you need travel insurance over 75 then check out the options on this site.

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