We’re all going on a summer holiday .... or are we?

23 Dec 2013

By Harvey Bate

When you're on holidays, have you ever stopped and thought about spending $17,000 in 20 minutes? Let me say it is a bit confronting when you have to!

Three years ago this was the very situation I faced when my family and I had an unexpected and rather unpleasant introduction to the United States' health system. A three hour stay for a 20 minute medical procedure to re-correct the setting of my son's broken arm was quoted by a Florida Hospital at $US17,000. A specialist surgeon and anaesthetist also needed to be added – which took the total cost to over $US20,000!

A good surgeon and an alternative surgical centre later and we had managed to reduce the hospital costs to $US12,000 – still very high, but what choice do you have when your son needs immediate medical treatment?

We've always taken out travel insurance so I knew that we'd be covered for the costs of my son's treatment. However, what I didn't expect was being told by the hospital they had not yet received "formal" approval from the travel insurance provider and the operation would not proceed unless I paid for it immediately.

Fortunately, we could settle by credit card and the operation took place as scheduled.

Learn from our experience

When it comes to your holiday travels, some of the takeaways from our experience include:

  • If you travel, always take out travel insurance with a respected provider.
  • Consider any pre-existing conditions you may have – depending upon the policy wording you may find you are not covered.
  • Note any policy exclusions – are you covered for activities such as skiing or other sports? 
  • If something is lost or stolen you will probably need to obtain a written report from the police or appropriate authority in order to make a successful claim.
  • If you are travelling with your parents or grandparents, note the age limitations on the policy.
  • Make sure your policy covers you for the total time you are away – especially if you are going on an extended trip.
  • If you travel frequently, an annual policy may well be more cost effective.
  • If you are relying on your credit card for travel insurance, make sure you read the terms and conditions – they vary in cover and quality.
  • And finally, make sure you have a backup plan so if the worst case scenario does present itself you are prepared.

These days, you can easily compare policies on the internet and organise your insurance before you travel.

Hopefully you will never need to use your travel insurance but, take it from me, you cannot afford to take the chance.

To learn more about Harvey, view his online profile.

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