Risks of Traveling Abroad Without Travel Insurance
Zahra Rahman, a student brand ambassador for the Foreign and Commonwealth Travel Aware Campaign shares a personal experience which made her realise going overseas without travel insurance really isn't worth the risk...
The shocking news of Hurricane Irma – classified as a category 5 hurricane – was bad enough to shake the world. On top of that, Hurricane Maria, classed as a possible category 3 came along, following its sister Irma's pathway. The affected areas by both hurricanes are across the Caribbean and southern America, covering Florida, Cuba, Puerto Rico, British Virgin Islands and the list goes on.
Natural disasters, or even man-made disasters, are things that no one would like to think of when they are planning their exciting holiday. We are going away to de-stress, to have fun, to enjoy new cultures, new people and new food! Who would think that in such a picture-perfect scene, something terrible can happen?
I know of a couple that arranged a road trip from UK to Germany. Everything was planned perfect. The ferry was booked from Dover to Dunkirk, where they planned to drive to Belgium and sleep one night in Brussels, before their 8-hour car journey (without the inevitable high traffic!) to Munich.
It was their first time driving in Europe and the pair of them had read up on driving differences via the FCO website and various other forums with advice. They tried to educate themselves on how to drive correctly and safely, as European driving is completely different from British driving.
Unfortunately, sometimes theory isn’t enough if you have had zero practice.
Once they arrived in France they drove quite easily into Belgium as it was a night time drive with minimal cars on the road to add to confusion. They had a lot of trouble on the roundabouts as to take a ‘left’, you must go around the whole roundabout from the right side – the opposite to driving in the UK. There were a few potentials for accidents at roundabouts, I was told!
The main problem happened when they were on the famous German Autobahn. There is a recommended speed limit of 80 mph, but I am sure only new drivers with low confident driving skills and non-European drivers like themselves would stick to that.
There was about 1 hour before finally arriving to Munich, and they were in the middle lane and about to overtake a car. In the few seconds of moving to the right lane, a car came racing up behind them, doing at least 100 mph and, within a blink of an eye, it collided with the back of their car, causing them to fly forwards, twist, and bang into another car on the left lane.
It was horrific. They described a small domino effect of cars lined up before them and they remembered seeing around 6 cars that had collided. Their car was crushed from the back and the side, as if a giant had pinched it with his finger and thumb. Amazingly, the accident only involved a few broken bones and noses and a lot of bruising, but this has completely scarred them. Quite understandably!
Luckily, they had European breakdown and recovery service as well as travel and health insurance, so all the bills in this disaster didn’t wipe out their bank account. That would have felt like another broken leg if they had to fork out for the medical bills too! Their road trip holiday was ruined right from the start, but with the help of their insurance and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, they could at least enjoy a few days of their holiday.
One of the most important lessons to learn from this is that health care insurance and travel insurance is vital in any form of travelling overseas. Also, please remember that if you are a British Citizen travelling overseas and if you are in ANY situation where you need urgent help or even advice, please contact the Foreign Commonwealth Office.
They have extensive information on their website to help keep you safe whilst abroad and give you pretravel information to help you decide where and when is best to travel, in terms of safety. It is so important to know that there is always someone there to help you, and if you were unfortunate enough to be in such a horrible situation, then rest assured the FCO have things covered for you.
The FCO are there to help you 24/7 if you find yourself in a vulnerable situation whilst abroad. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter, and on Instagram, to get contact details and pre-travel advice.
Happy travelling and keep yourselves safe and insured!
By Zahra Rahman