The Time I Used My Travel Medical Insurance
In September 2016, I had a one-way ticket to London and grand plans to travel around Europe (and possibly the world) for the foreseeable future. While part of my preparation including thinking about my health, I didn't think too much about travel medical insurance. Between vaccinations, a doctor visit to ensure I was healthy, and stocking up on over-the-counter drugs, I figured I was pretty much good to go. Until I did some research.
I ended up purchasing a travel medical insurance policy for two reasons: one, my mother insisted (and frequently reminded me) that I should get one; and two, I found out that my Alberta provincial health care didn't really cover all that much abroad. Now, I'm a natural worrier so I bought the policy for peace of mind. Again, I didn't really think I'd use it, but it was pretty cheap. Only a couple hundred of dollars for six months.
Approximately six weeks into my trip, I ended up in the hospital with a severe allergic reaction. I'd never had an allergic reaction in my life, but apparently being bitten all over by Slovakian mosquitos was something my immune system didn't appreciate. The trip to the ER was rather harrowing - I didn't call an ambulance as I wasn't in anaphylactic shock, but I ended up trying to catch a bus for an hour then giving up and taking a cab. By this point, my eye was swollen completely shut and I must've looked like a giant mess. The cab driver took me to the nearest hospital.
The emergency room was a long hallway, full of people. The receptionist did not speak any English, and nor did anyone else it seemed. Luckily, I had thought to google translate my symptoms and they led me to triage. I showed a nurse who gave me a cursory examination and sent me to wait. I waited for quite a few hours and then was taken back to the triage area where they gave me an IV and looked me over again. Thankfully, the doctors, a few nurses, and the hospital administrator spoke English. I gave them my travel medical insurance information and they continued to treat me.
I ended up staying in the hospital for nearly two days. I was able to use the hospital's phone to call TuGo, my travel medical insurance provider. They started my claim right away and talked to the hospital administrator and doctors for me, informing them of what was covered and the payment process. Once that was dealt with, they discussed what would happen and what was covered with me. They covered my hospital stay, my medications, and a visit to a specialist. They even covered follow-up appointments, although I didn't use them as I left the area immediately after I was released.
While ending up in the hospital is something no one wants to do - especially on vacation - it does happen, even to young and healthy individuals. My travel medical insurance paid for itself with that single minor incident. Had I not had coverage, I would’ve been out hundreds of dollars. In other circumstances, such as if I’d been in a remote area, had more serious medical issues, or been in a country with expensive health care, these costs could have been astronomical. My provincial health care would not have covered me either. That’s why I am very grateful that I had travel medical insurance and why I will always advocate that everyone get it, no matter how healthy they are. Talk to your insurance broker about the travel medical policy that is right for you. There are a number of insurance companies offering this coverage, even if you have a pre-existing condition or if you’re already on your trip (though don’t try to make a same day claim).