Why you need to de-risk that dream holiday

By Megan Graham. Published at Sep 6, 2017, in Features

Relax. Take it easy. Sit on a beach. Sip a cocktail. You’re on holiday, right? You deserve to take a load off and sightsee, eat out and post way too many smug photos on Facebook.

That’s the idealistic approach to a holiday, but sometimes things go awry.

While not everybody will take a leaf out of Clark Griswold’s book and miss a road sign, there is a serious side to your dream getaway.

While you may not associate your holiday with weeks long hospital stays, the administration of a catheter, or having your own nurse and doctor accompany you as you are expatriated from your beautiful holiday destination, it can happen.

And does.

There’s the story of Australian Peter Laskey.

While cycling with friends around Italian countryside, Mr Laskey came off his bike. What followed was a trip to the chemist, a visit with a doctor and eventually a hospital stay which racked up an enormous bill of $68,000.

For many Australians, that’s a sum big enough to devastate your financial position and put you into crippling debt.

It turns out Mr Laskey had two fractures in his pelvis: leaving hospital, let alone returning to Australia, was difficult.

The moral of the story? Mr Laskey had bought travel insurance which covered $64,218 of the immense $67,605 he’d accrued in bills.

He was one of the fortunate ones who went on holiday prepared for any scenario.

Intensive care stay not part of the ‘dream holiday’ plan

30-year-old Sydney woman Rani Vincent had a sudden and major brain haemorrhage moments after landing at Vancouver Airport for a road-trip.

Vincent was rushed to hospital and put on life support, before having major brain surgery. She survived, but was faced with another kind of cerebral assault – $180,000 in costs. Again, it was Rani’s travel insurance company which covered the mindboggling sum.

Not everyone has that foresight however, and while they may look to take a clever approach to a dire situation, there are further problems that may be encountered.

Travel Insurance Direct travel expert Phil Sylvester told News.com.au many uninsured OS travellers resort to setting up crowd-funding campaigns to cover unforeseen major medical costs.

He also noted that some travellers are actually unable to leave a country without first paying medical bills they may owe.

“It does depend where you are,” he said. “It’s not a criminal offence to leave the United States while owing money to people — it can be a bit hairy trying to get out of the country, but it’s not actually illegal — but it is in the United Arab Emirates, and you won’t get out of there if you owe money.

“They can try and chase you down in Australia and it will affect your global credit rating.”

What about everyday scenarios?

It’s not always that dramatic when it comes to stories about calling on travel insurance. There are occasions such as medical tests or potential conditions which delay a person leaving the country.

For example, concern about certain symptoms which result in a doctor’s recommendation not to fly until results come in – these costs (having to change or cancel flights and pre-booked activities or accommodation) can be covered by travel insurance.

There are some obvious reasons why travel insurance is quite important for anyone considering overseas travel. Here are six ways it might save your holidaying bacon:

  • Trip cancellation coverage. Life is complicated, and things don’t always happen according to our personal schedules. If a relative dies, a pipe bursts in your apartment, there’s an emergency at work, a pet becomes ill and so on – you face a cancelled trip, and all that pre-paid expenditure down the drain. Insurance can help cover these costs, which will almost always be in the thousands of dollars once flights are included.
  • Sickness or injury before/during the trip. As highlighted in the stories above, the body can be unpredictable and we simply never know what’s around the corner. Just like we may need emergency services at no warning while conducting our daily lives, we may also need them while travelling – and we need to know that someone can help cover these costs.
  • The weather. As weather conditions become increasingly erratic, and we get more used to extreme weather events, this risk is particularly good to note. Weather events can cause travel delays, a need to cancel your holiday, damage to yourself or property, cancelled flights and more. This can very quickly become expensive.
  • Coverage for stolen goods. Even in the most popular of tourist destinations (think Italy, Greece, Germany, Spain) many people encounter lost luggage, theft and petty crime which, along with medical expenses, represent a major proportion of insurance claims made by Australians travelling overseas.
  • Terrorism. Many insurance policies have clauses regarding terrorism-related events at your destination. If it’s a week before you romantic getaway to Rome, and there is a terrorist attack, it’s possible to be covered for your pre-paid trip costs.
  • Accidental death. There are many costs related to dying overseas, including what can be an expensive repatriation of your remains. It’s no fun to think about, but it occasionally does happen. This one is particularly important to consider if you have dependents and who would be covering these costs if this scenario were to ever occurs. Below shows the first three of multiple insurers compared by Finder.com.au which shows the varying ‘death benefits’ amounts, along with what conditions must be met to make a claim. (For example, most insurers won’t cover death-related expenses if it occurred while undertaking illegal activities.)

Travel insurance

Holidays can be expensive, and travel insurance is an extra cost on top of flights, accommodation, food and activities.

If you’re planning a trip, the question might be whether your decision not to buy insurance is one you can truly afford down the track if you encounter unforeseen circumstances.

Because we all know life’s full of those.

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