Over on Elliott Advocacy, one reader shared how a simple insurance mistake cost her roughly $US6,000 ($8,888) in hospital fees. According to the reader’s account, she tripped over a chain while on holiday in Mexico, which, in an incredible series of events, resulted in an ambulance ride to a local hospital, several X-rays, a blood transfusion, several fractures to her leg, and an emergency surgery.
Fortunately, she had opted to purchase travel health insurance before her trip through Allianz, meaning her surgery would be covered. However, after another series of events—which included being held at gunpoint by hospital security for failing to pay for a procedure she no longer wanted—she rushed home without obtaining any proof of any of her treatments and, well, you can probably guess where it goes from here.
Without proper documentation, she was hard-pressed to receive any kind of reimbursement provided by her travel health insurance. After all, they needed to make sure the treatment really happened. A year later, after failing to provide proper documentation, she was still out nearly $US6,000 ($8,888). (Miraculously, she recovered her money due to her “unique circumstances” while enlisting the help of Elliott Advocacy, but we’d argue this is largely the exception over the rule.)
What can you do to avoid a similar fate? Well, here’s the easiest of all travel hacks: Hold onto your receipts. Assuming your treatment is covered by your insurance, it’s the only way to better guarantee that you won’t be a few thousand dollars in the hole. (Of course, you should make sure to contact your insurer to make sure your treatment is covered before going through with it, if the situation permits.)
If you’re in an emergency, naturally, you might not think to obtain any documentation. We’d recommend requesting it while you’re still abroad and in person, if possible; it will only become more difficult to obtain paperwork over the phone, particularly when there’s a language barrier involved.
And remember, there’s a difference between your standard travel and medical insurance. The former might cover lost bags or delays while the latter will cover emergency medical treatments. (Some comprehensive policies will cover both.) If you’re travelling with pricey possessions, then travel insurance might be worth it. If you’re travelling overseas to an unfamiliar place for weeks or even months at a time, then medical insurance might be worth it. Here’s our guide on how to decide between the two before your next trip.