As the old saying goes, “If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.”
We have all been in similar situations before, trying to determine whether or not insurance is really worth that extra cost. As the saying goes, “If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.” In truth this logical concept is extremely important. In fact it can even be life changing.
From a very young age, I have always believed travel insurance is a key cost when it comes to planning a holiday. Like buying your plane tickets, booking accommodation and organizing your daily itinerary, travel insurance should really be at the very top of your list of things to do. Honestly, it should really be the first thing you look into before you even think about planning your holiday.
Why, you ask? Well, you need to work out if the places you are going to be visiting are both covered and affordable.
When we travel, we often look past the chances of having something unthinkable happen to us, because lets face it, no one wants to think that their holiday could quite easily be cancelled, changed or interrupted. I mean, after all the planning we put in behind the scenes, it really is daunting. However, the true reality of travelling is sadly, things do often go wrong, and more so when you least expect it.
Cancelled flights, wrongly booked accommodation, lost baggage, stolen and damaged items, or in some serious cases, medical and evacuation expenses.
It happens, things do go wrong when your travel, and to help you understand the seriousness and high importance behind making sure you have travel insurance, I’m going to tell you a story that happened to me in South America a few months ago. This accident could have gone from bad to extremely dangerous if it hadn’t been for a slight streak of luck, and quite easily this event could have caused extreme hassle and grief for myself or even worse, for my family if fate had of been different that day, and if I didn’t have travel insurance to cover me.
So, here we go…
The day I almost died.
Dramatic eh? Well in truth, at the time I didn’t think it was more than just a close call, but after months of travelling around the world this experience still shakes me to the core, even just thinking about it makes me wonder how I was so lucky.
Death road, located in Bolivia, South America is known to be one of the worlds most dangerous and deadly roads. Sitting almost 4,650 meters high at the beginning of the 61km long path, and ending at 1,200 meters in the town of Coroico, Death road kills an estimated 200 – 300 people each year.
Me, being the classic daredevil, feeling like I was invincible and could do anything because it was the start of my travels in Bolivia, decided it would be a great idea to ride down the most dangerous road in the world on a BMX bike. Now, this isn’t just a road, it’s a dirt path winding and curving through the lush Bolivian jungle, and all around the mountains of which sit over 4,500 meters high with drop offs so steep you would have no chance of grabbing onto anything if you ever went over the edge.
The road takes almost 5 hours to ride, and although it is now officially “closed” to the public, tour companies have taken over the path and host BMX bike riding tours down the road every single day. Sadly, scattered all along the edge of the cliffs are little white crosses, marking where the hundreds of people have lost their lives along the road.
On this particular day I was with my younger sister, and decided it was the perfect “thrill tour” to start our South American adventure, we headed off with the tour group, had our safety briefing, which was basically a “Can you ride a bike?” briefing, then we all hit the road.
All was going well, until about half an hour into the trip. I was the unlucky one that got stuck with a motorbike helmet, which kept falling in font of my eyes, as it was too big for my head. As I was coming around a corner, I stupidly lifted one hand off the handle bars to adjust the helmet, and the next thing I know I was coming around way too fast and with the other hand braked as hard as I could, but it was too late. I was flung head over the handlebars, still holding on and flew through the air bringing the bike around with me. The bike flipped right up over my head and I smacked right back down on the handlebars as the bike flung out from underneath me, and skidded over the side of the cliff.
The bike was gone, and as soon as I went to stand up, pain shot through my body and I couldn’t breathe, it was the first time I had ever experienced being winded, and for those of you that have never been winded, you cant speak, move or breathe. I was lying there just gasping for air less than a foot away from the cliffs edge.
Soon enough the tour guide that was riding behind me rushed over, dragging me away from the cliff face and he began to check if I was ok. He coached me back into breathing and as I slowly stood up, all I could get out was “The bike, it’s gone, it went over the cliff. Will, will I have to pay for it?”
The bike had fallen over 10m down the cliff face, but luckily, was wedged in a tree branch. The guide didn’t care about the bike, he was more concerned I had broken my wrist or ribs, within minutes my body was shaking and black and purple bruises started to appear around my chest where I had landed on the handle bars and I couldn’t move my wrist at all. I was in so much pain, and was already so swollen that I spent the next few hours wondering if I had broken some bones in my body.
Luckily I managed to walk away that day, my brand new phone was completely smashed as it was in my pocket, but thankfully I was OK and the bike was retrieved.
After pulling myself back together and still in shock from it all, the guide and some locals came over to help retrieve the bike. I had told them to just leave it and that I would pay for it, but they obviously had experience with similar situations before and grabbed a single piece of rope and began to abseil down the cliff to grab the bike that was wedged in a tree branch.
It took over a month for the bruises and pain to go away, I didn’t realize how close I had come to seriously hurting myself, or worse, almost losing my life until a few weeks later. After being checked out, and all cleared, I was thankful that nothing serious had happened. I walked away that day, pretty shaken, but thankful I was ok.
The tour guide that took our tour that day, told me he had never been so scared for one of his clients in his whole entire life. He had told me that in the 10 years of taking tour groups along Death Road, that I was the only one that had ever come that close to death in one of his groups.
After a few weeks, once I had processed the whole ordeal, I sat down and began to comb through the events that had taken place as I still had insurance claims to make. I had a hospital appointment to cover, and a brand new iPhone 5 to claim.
If I hadn’t have had travel insurance, I can’t imagine what would have happened if I had gone over the cliff that day. I often think of insurance not so much as a benefit for myself, but more so extremely important for my family, because honestly, what if I had died that day? My parents would have been dealing with trying to put together funds to bring me home, and grieving all at once. The costs involved in bring a body home can be anywhere from $5,000 – $30,000. Can you just imagine the complete horror that would be for any family! It’s extremely heart breaking, and I could never allow myself to travel without knowing I’m covered for something as serious as this.
So please, please take it from someone that has almost been in a serious accident overseas. What would happen if you were seriously injured? I don’t buy travel insurance because I might lose my iPhone, get my bag stolen or have a cancelled flight, even though these are all wonderful reasons to get travel insurance. I buy travel insurance because I would never wish for my family to deal with the bills or problems if anything terrible was to ever happen to me abroad.
Listen to your gut, your instincts and make sure you are responsible and cautious with everything you choose to do abroad.
I still think about that day, and what could have happened. You hear stories all the time of people getting seriously injured, or worse, being killed overseas every year. You can pay as little as $100 for your travel insurance to cover you during your trip, and this will allow you to make claims for medical, loss or damage of items, cancelations, evacuations, coming home early or resumption of your trip and even personal liability.
Trust me, it’s worth the extra bit of money spent.
Australia is known for having a large population of travellers, and that’s why South Cross Travel Insurance is now offering great competitive rates, but is also covering a range of potential claims for your overseas trips.
As a fulltime traveller, I know how expensive travel can be, but seriously ask yourself before your next trip, what if something beyond anything I could ever imagine happened to me?
Could I afford it? Could my family?
Most travellers ignore the benefits of travel insurance, and after hearing some stories, I understand why some people choose not to purchase it. However, after travelling to over 65 countries, I can tell you now, if there is one thing I have learnt, it’s that things happen when you least expect.
You can always be prepared mentally, but when these awful and completely unexpected things happen, you more than often need support financially to help you re-book that flight, get you through an overseas hospital system or even help you book into a hotel. Travel Insurance is a great investment, and as mentioned before, “If you can’t afford travel insurance, you cant afford to travel.”
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