Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes


September 15, 2013

Is Travel Insurance Worth it?

Is Travel Insurance Worth it?  The simple answer is YES!

The cheapest option in the UK is the annual policy which is great if you are doing city breaks to Europe however if you do have an annual policy do you know what it covers?

A number of British people that I have worked with over the years travel abroad thinking that if they holiday within the EU then they will be covered if they travel with the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) however this will only pay for certain costs if you need to seek medical care and it won’t cover repatriation back to the UK; you can check out what it does cover with this NHS Guide by country.

My bank account provides me with an annual travel policy which I use as my cover whenever I travel abroad and trust me I never leave home without making sure that I have travel insurance; mainly as I’m the clumsiest person I know. I get snowed in when travelling in December, have had both my feet bitten by a cheetah (no blood and self-medicated myself with vodka!), had a nasty bout of food poisoning from eating a dodgy prawn in Namibia, fallen down marble stairs in Croatia while wearing my 15kg backpack and slipped on a lovely piece of ice in Estonia and the NHS doctors still aren’t sure if I broke my neck or not! Luckily a majority of my medical treatment has taken place once I have gotten home.

For my other half (G) he makes sure he gets his money worth out of his travel insurance – he was medevaced from Malawi down to South Africa to get his gall bladder removed (he’s the proud owner of three different entry visas into South Africa – tourist, working and a medical visa).

However the story I’m going to tell you about is a diving incident that G had while on holiday in Cyprus a few years ago. Before heading off to Cyprus, G had decided there was a particular dive he wanted to do off the coast and this particular wreck was 31 metres deep (this is the important fact).


G purchased his travel insurance and told the company about the dive; they tried to sell him the normal travel insurance however G decided to pay an additional £8 for the extreme travel insurance which covered more depth when diving.

Now dive wise, G had a perfect dive and came up normally; later that evening he felt funny and the next morning we were taking a drive to the dive centre and then across Cyprus to visit a private Recompression Chamber as he was suffering from Decompression sickness (The Bends).

Unfortunately the Recompression Chamber at the hospital was down when we were there and the only alternative was the private chamber. Three people were required for G’s medical treatment and it meant extending our holiday in Cyprus as you can’t fly for 72 hours after a dive or recompression treatment.

After waiting the necessary 72 hours we flew back to England, we arrived home (finally!) and G announces that he was feeling ill again; yeap he was suffering Decompression sickness from flying – so a nice trip to Gosport Navy base was required.

I’m not going to lie; the insurance company is always going to look for a get out clause and the one that they tried was the depth of G’s dive. Luckily enough G had purchased the extreme cover for an extra £8 which covered him over 30 metres in depth and this saved G from receiving a medical bill for £100,000! Yes £100,000! Basically that would buy me 161 pairs of the Valentino Rock Stud shoes that I fancy, just to put things into perspective.

Graham and I before he got sick in Cyprus

G and I before he got sick in Cyprus

G is now okay however he doesn’t dive much (mainly as it’s too cold in the UK) and most overseas diving companies won’t take someone diving who has suffered from Decompression Sickness previously.

The moral of the story is – if you can’t afford to purchase travel insurance then you can’t afford to travel!

If you do hold an annual policy then I suggest you check out what it actually covers for example – how many days it allows you to be out of the country in a one year period; the total number of days one trip can be; what activities it covers and the value of the medical cover especially if you travel to North America.

So do you know and understand what your travel insurance covers?


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