Travel Insurance

Get covered before you travel………….you know it makes sense!

As peak season summer travel is underway, how many times do we read in the media about people’s bad experiences following an incident on their holiday? Whole television programmes are directed at the plight of those who have suffered an accident whilst in foreign parts. The vast majority of them involve the lack of appropriate travel insurance.

Since an early age when I got the travel bug, I have always taken out travel insurance. As a student I realise, with the benefit of hindsight, I probably did not read the small print and naively believed that I was covered against any eventuality. As I grew older ( and wiser ? ) I started to investigate what I could realistically expect were I ever to lodge a claim against my insurance company.

Basic travel insurance will provide just that……….the bare minimum. Policies which offer basic cover usually have the largest list of exclusions. Their philosophy is that there must be cover against any particular situation with another provider. I realised at an early stage that, if I took expensive personal items on holiday with me, I had to expect to pay for the privilege of doing so. It made sense to leave expensive watches and jewellery behind as there was a strong possibility that their loss would not be covered. This was in the days before mobile phones, personal computers and other gadgets so common today.

Having friends in the insurance industry convinced me of the need to have adequate cover when contemplating travel to exotic, distant locations. The ISU provided excellent cover in the shape of annual policies at an affordable cost. I signed up to such policies and have relied upon them for well over 3 decades. Just as I insured my cars through comprehensive policies as opposed to less expensive third-party ones, my travel insurance covered me for many additional items and situations such as travel delays, missed flights and comprehensive medical eventualities, including medical evacuation. 

I suffered a heart attack at the age of 55 and, after having a stent fitted, I declared my full medical history to insurers and was reassured that I would still be covered for any eventuality, albeit for an additional premium. I always had the maximum cover for medical contingencies worldwide, including the USA and Caribbean ( the most expensive treatment wise ) 

I had no cause to lodge claims other than for missing baggage due to airline incompetence over the years until 2016. Whilst on a trip to New York I was admitted to hospital as an emergency patient with a suspected internal bleed. It transpired that I had a burst blood vessel in my duodenum. During the course of investigation and treatment to repair the blood vessel the surgeon discovered a highly aggressive pancreatic tumour.  I declined to have the cancer treated in the USA and opted, for a variety of reasons, to return to the UK for surgery. I am happy to report that, following successful removal and chemotherapy, I returned to excellent health within a year.

The most crucial aspect of my American medical treatment saga is the cost. I was in intensive care for 4 days and a further day in critical care/observation. The total cost was a truly eye-watering $765,000………….yes, your eyes are not deceiving you! The bills arrived on a daily basis for months afterwards whilst I was recuperating from extensive surgery at home. At no stage did I have any issue with my insurers. They were most professional and handled everything in an exemplary fashion. Had I not had high levels of medical insurance, my situation would have been dire.

I continue to have comprehensive medical travel insurance with a new provider, having declared all my medical history, and the cost is marginally higher than before. My previous provider does not offer insurance to anyone who has undergone surgery for cancer but was still willing to insure me for all other eventualities, despite having incurred significant expenditure on my behalf.

The moral of this tale is simple…………do not stint on paying for travel insurance cover. Declare everything and you will still be able to obtain cover. I know it makes sense.  I hope you do too!     

Stuart Band