Travel Insurance and flesh-eating bugs

Deciding to travel around the world means there are a few things which need sorting out before you leave.  Mobile phones, inoculations and travel insurance just to mention a few.  It was one of those things that I hadn’t yet got around to doing before I flew to South Africa in an emergency recently when my Mum wasn’t well.  Besides, every time I come to South Africa, I always think of it as ‘coming home’ so I never bother with travel insurance.

BIG mistake!

“R1000!!!” I cried (roughly $124/£178)
“Yes, to see a doctor,” replied the hospital clerk, “and R13,000 (about $1623/£1021) if you get admitted to hospital.”
I remember thinking that if they needed to admit me, it would be cheaper to fly back to England and be treated there.
But there I was with a strange rash and fever, standing in a hospital in the town I grew up in.  I was just a ‘casual’ patient, with no ‘medical aid’ as it is called here, i.e. no health insurance.  They didn’t care that I grew up here, that I had my tonsils out when I was 8 or my appendix out when I was 14.  They didn’t care that this hospital housed the offices of the doctors that I’d grown up with all my life.  I was a casual patient – it was R1000 and that was that.
I looked at the rash on my arm.  I honestly had no idea where it had come from.  Should I risk it? I guess it could just be stress. But what if it was some strange exotic disease that I had picked up on the plane?  Or maybe it was a flesh eating bug that was going to devour me before I even get the chance to start my travelling?  Hmm, R1000 might be substantially less than the cost of rebuilding my arm after its munched by airborne flesh-eating creepy crawlies.
As it turned out, all I had was a virus and an underlying infection which disappeared with the right combination of pain killers, anti-biotics and anti-histamines…but I was still R1000 poorer.
Lesson learnt:  ALWAYS get travel/health insurance no matter WHERE you go!! It might not be you who gets sick but maybe someone who drives into you, someone who trips you up and you end up breaking your leg, etc. I know that with most insurances, it is always a case of “Just in case” but what happens if it happens to you?
All that hard earned cash that you saved for travelling blown the instant your bone snaps.
All blown the second that virus decides that you look like the perfect place for its new home.
All blown just like that.

I think it’s worth it, don’t you?

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