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Three Experiences Where Travel Insurance “Saved” Me

It sucks to get sick or to lose one’s bag while traveling, and while we pray for it to never happen to us, trust me, at some point, it’ll happen. After more than five years on the road, I’ve had my share of sick days, hospital visits, theft, and lost bags that would have significantly set me back financially had I not been covered.

Here are just a few experiences on how they happened.

Falling from a Mayan Pyramid in Honduras

This happened back in 2010. I was at the top of a Mayan Pyramid in Copan Ruinas, Honduras, when suddenly I missed a step and tumbled all the way down the stepped pyramid – face forward. It all happened so quick that I barely noticed myself falling. Once I lost my momentum, I got up as if nothing happened. I felt no pain, and I barely had a few scratches. That’s until I looked down and saw my right knee. It was cut open and bleeding profusely.

As I tumbled down the pyramid, my knee hit the edge of one of the steps. The hit was so hard that even my patella deformed a bit.


I have the full story of how the day unfolded on this post, but the short version goes like this. Since Copan Ruinas was a small town, there were no hospitals in it. The nearest hospital was in Guatemala City, Guatemala. Yes, in a different country. Without thinking it twice, I took a 7-hour bus from Copan Ruinas to Guatemala City (still bleeding and whatever), so I could be treated and get stitches there. On the way, an old lady recommended not to go to the hospital. She said, “you’ll bleed out waiting there.” Instead, she suggested going to her home, where I could meet her son who is a doctor.

Too many hours had passed since the accident, so in the end, I could not get any stitches. Eventually, a day after or two, I still wanted to go to the hospital to make sure my knee was fine. X-rays were done, meds and proper care were given.

In the end, I didn’t pay a cent for it thanks to my travel insurance. And how’s my knee today? It’s fine! Just with a battle scar.

Getting Food Poisoning in Tunisia

On my second to last day in Tunisia, I was CouchSurfing with a local in Tunis. He was a cool guy and offered to cook a traditional couscous for dinner. I accepted, of course. It all went well and tasted delicious until I got a spoon full of something that tasted weird. It had a weird texture and an unpleasant taste. Have in mind it was my first couscous ever, so I passed it as, “Jesus, this part of couscous tastes like shit.”

I ate it all and a few hours later went to bed.

The next morning… chaos.

I woke up with the worst nausea and diarrhea ever. I spent the morning retracing my steps from the bed to the toilet. Over, and over again. Around noon it seemed to stop, and I thought I was feeling well. At that point, I decided to go out to sightsee. Not even 20 minutes had passed since I left the apartment and I saw myself running towards a restaurant to use their toilet.

It was in no condition to sightsee. I debated going to the doctor, but I didn’t think it was that serious yet. The next morning I flew to Milan, Italy, and as soon I got to my room I simply dropped dead on the bed for the rest of the day. “I should get better soon,” I told myself.

Three days had passed, and I was barely eating, and mostly throwing up everything I ate. It was time to go to the hospital. Once I got there, they saw I was so dehydrated that they hospitalized me and left me there overnight. They did a sonogram of my tummy to check what was going on and see if there was anything abnormal. It was all fine, but I had a severe case of food poisoning.

At the hospital in Milan after the worst food poisoning case I’ve had on the road. Seriously, not my best moment (nor my best picture).

After a night in I was released, given meds, and told to rest. This time I paid around $500 for the hospital bill, but it was refunded right after I submitted my insurance claim.

Another Food Poisoning… This Time in Thailand

This one didn’t happen to me directly, but it happened to my niece as we backpacked Southeast Asia together last year. We were at the full moon party in Koh Phangan, and we were having a blast. The day after, around 6 pm or 7 pm, my niece starts telling me she’s feeling a bit sick. She attributed it to her last dinner (which could be plausible), I attributed it to the weird mystery drink she had the night before (no one knew what was in it). Either way, she was in severe pain and needed to go to the doctor.

Fire jump rope! So much fun, but it can hit you hard. It’s not as bad as it looks. (That wasn’t me, though)

We went straight to the “tourist hospital” in Koh Phangan to have her checked. She got some blood tests done, and the results came in. She had a bacterial infection. She could have gotten it with either of our suspect foods. The doctor there suggested she should stay overnight to get a strong dose of antibiotics through IV. What was supposed to be one night turned out to be two nights in the hospital. It was serious.

While my niece recuperated, I made sure I dealt with the travel insurance she had to see how much she would be covered. In that case, based on her policy, since she stayed in the hospital for more than 24 hours, she didn’t have to pay a single cent as the insurance would cover 100% upfront.

When I saw the bill we had to sign during checkout, it was over $2,500. We saved (well, she saved), that money thanks to spending roughly $50 for her insurance.

These are just a few of my stories where I’ve been “saved” by travel insurance. They are not the worst “sick/accident” stories out there, but I hope it stays like that. Life has taught me to expect the unexpected, so it’s best to be insured while traveling to minimize the financial impact these situations might have.

So, How Do You Get Travel Insurance?

There are hundreds of travel insurance companies out there, but not all of them might offer the proper coverage to meet your travel needs. Generali Global Assistance is one of those companies that differentiates from the rest as it offers higher trip cancellation benefits, on-demand medical care, coverage for pre-existing conditions, no per-item limits on baggage coverage, and more. (Note: Your specific coverage depends on the policy you choose, so it’s best to read the small print before purchasing to make sure of what will be covered and not.)

In the end, a few extra bucks on insurance could save you thousands down the road. Also, know that these stories do not represent the outcome you might have with all insurances. Each company and each policy are different, so make sure that you get the coverage that fits best your travel style and needs.

Disclaimer: This post was made in collaboration with Generali Global Assistance, but all of the experiences and opinions shared here are mine. You can learn more about Generali via their Facebook and Twitter account.


Three Experiences Where Travel Insurance “Saved” Me is a post from: GloboTreks.

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