Travel Insurance Nightmares and Tips

Travel Insurance Nightmares and Tips

I find it is not often I talk about the negative stuff that happens while travelling. I like to focus on the positives of my experiences and pop in advice from where I have learnt for things. Travelling is amazing and I like to focus on how lucky we are to have this luxury. However, it can go wrong sometimes and I’ve got to remember it is good to share those times too. Even though I’m a perfectionist and like every trip to run perfectly smooth some times fate is out of your own control.

Today I’m sharing my claim nightmare that happened many years ago now while I was still a newbie at this travelling game. 

travel insurance nightmares

Travel Insurance Nightmare: Using the company selected by the booking agent.

Story: While I was in the USA working at summer camp and travelling around I had been provided with travel insurance by BUNAC. It was included in the package you pay for and with little money at the time I assumed it was reliable given how many people book with them each year. Anyway while I was in the States I ended up in hospital for half a day and American hospitals are not cheap! I paid the money on my credit card knowing I’d have it back from the insurance company in no time, or at least I thought so. Two weeks later when I returned home from the US and lodged my claim Bunac informed me they had changed companies. They were no longer dealing with the company I had to get my money back from and the help I thought Bunac would provide suddenly disappeared. On top of this the hospital apparently didn’t charge me the full amount on the day and two months later I found myself with a second bill to pay and the money from my first claim still unresolved.

It took hours of phone calls to both Bunac and the insurance company and about six months of waiting before I did eventually get my money back – it certainly wasn’t an easy process.

Since the above story happened I have been much more caution with booking travel insurance to ensure I am fully cover. I always read the small print and only book with companies that are highly rated when on big trips. 

You probably don’t need to be as ruthless as I am, but here are some tips which will help keep you protected.

Tip: Research the insurance company that the booking service provide, understand exactly how long it will take to get your money back and the process for doing so. Check if they will be changing company any time soon and if you are still not happy then book your own… the extra money will be worth it.

travel insurance nightmare - snowboarding

I hadn’t anticipated snowboarding in New Zealand but was glad my insurance covered it.

Tip: Know what activities you will be doing and make sure your policy covers them – many standard policies won’t cover adventure sports like snowboarding for example. Before I took off on my gap year I wasn’t 100% sure what activities I would be doing but knew I wanted to try my hand at sky diving and back water rafting. I took out their top policy which covered nearly every activity you could thing of. Good job I did as I ended up injured from snowboarding (luckily nothing serious, but could you imagine the worry had it of been)…

Tip: Take out a policy with no medial excess – some companies offer to remove the medial excess for a small fee others may include it within their policy already but I would highly suggest this. As you can see from the below infographic the most common claim is on medical expenses but imagine if your excess is £200. That is sure gonna leave any backpacker feeling very out of pocket when they get £200 less back! Excess for the rest of the policy is important to look at too.

Columbus regional claims - Infographic

And finally don’t be the idiot who travels without insurance… While I was in Thailand I met a girl who had been bitten by a monkey on her leg. She just bandaged it herself because she didn’t have and medical cover. Furthermore she had no rabies protection and when I met her it was over a week after the bite occurred.

There are many great insurance deals out there, even if you don’t follow my tips to getting every protection possible having a policy is better than none at all!

This post is in collaboration with Columbus Direct.



  1. 23rd July 2015 / 4:43 pm

    Oh my goodness, I totally agree with this Jodie. I’ve met so many people travelling without insurance, it scares me! I think many people (particular those of us who live in the UK where we have free healthcare) don’t realise how expensive medical care is in other countries and it can run into thousands of pounds.

    • Jodie Louise
      27th July 2015 / 9:50 pm

      It really scares me when I hear of people travelling with out insurance. And yes as Brits we are spoilt by free medical care.

  2. 1st May 2017 / 12:48 am

    Those nightmares are unreal. Thanks for sharing your tips. I just got my travel insurance last week.

  3. Kim
    15th September 2017 / 9:41 pm

    Stumbled across this in my search for travel insurance. I can’t even find anyone to insure me as I’ve been away from my home country for so long, and I’m going travelling after living in a foreign country for two years. I had some medical issues last year, and my prior expat insurer is denying me coverage. I’m going to be that ‘idiot’ without insurance on her travels.

    I appreciate your list on what to look for though! Once I have residency status somewhere again, I’ll be sure to investigate!

    • Jodie Louise
      16th September 2017 / 5:30 pm

      Hi Kim, I’m sorry you are struggling to find insurance cover. I’m sure you can’t be the only one in that situation! Maybe try looking for other nomadic bloggers and see what travel insurance they use. Good luck!

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