A young woman who was attacked by a stranger on holiday has urged fellow travelers to check their insurance, after overseas medical bills left her thousands out of pocket.
Until the beginning of this year, 27-year-old Jordan Katherine was a reliable globetrottereager to explore the world and meet new people.
But while traveling in Sri Lanka in March, the Texas native says she was brutally assaulted by a stranger.
Hours of surgery and months of recovery later, he is on the road to recovery.
But he has an urgent warning for those traveling with him – check your insurance, or risk a lot medical bills.
“I decided to share my story to highlight the mistakes I made in the medical field abroad and to save someone else from what I went through,” he says.
Here’s why you need travel insurance when you’re abroad – and how to make sure you get the right cover.
No travel insurance can cause serious financial problems
Katherine was assaulted in a bar in Midigama, a coastal village in Sri Lanka. After he “politely declined” the group’s request to leave his seat, he says one of the men threw a glass at him “as hard as he could” — “almost a baseball.”
The glass smashed into Katherine’s face, tearing open her eyes and mouth and severing her lips. Katherine underwent a three-hour operation, with stitches in four different parts of her face.
But apart from the mental and physical injuries, he has also faced serious financial problems.
Unknowingly, he travel insurance it went out of business just before the attack.
He said: “It was an expensive trip.
The most important things to look for in your travel insurance
Unfortunately, Katherine’s insurance problem is not unusual. In 2019, a UK teenager incurred €140,000 in medical bills after a horrific scooter accident left him in an American hospital.
But while the risk stories are common, a 2019 UK survey showed that 38 percent of people would consider traveling without insurance.
This is a very bad idea, says Chris Rolland, CEO of AllClear Travel Insurance.
“With COVID still out there, fires starting in Europe and many medical personnel going abroad this summer, it’s important for everyone on vacation to put safety first,” he says.
To avoid holiday hassles, be sure to double-check your eligibility before you go.
Different policies offer different coverage, but what is included is travel cancellation, emergency, stolen property, personal injury, and accident.
In cases like Katherine’s, medical expenses are often covered, as it is ‘unforeseen events’ that disrupt the holiday.
Some locations may also require different levels of coverage. For example, travelers to the United States will need additional medical care because the country does not have medical care. A two-day ICU stay can cost you as much as $30,000.
Remember that emergency services are free in some countries
In some countries, emergency care is free – but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to take out insurance.
If EU citizens fall ill outside of another EU country, they have the right to receive medical treatment that cannot wait until they arrive home.
British travelers with EHICs are also offered the same benefits. When they expire, they should be replaced by “Global Health Insurance Cards” (GHICs), the UK’s post-Brexit alternative. The card also allows Brits to access government-sponsored ‘essential’ healthcare when visiting one of the 27 EU countries or Switzerland. This means care that can’t wait – whether it’s unexpected trips to A&E, or regular medical treatment for pre-existing conditions.
In some countries – including many in South America and Europe – emergency services are free for both locals and foreigners.
Some countries have reciprocity agreements that allow their citizens to receive free medical care at their destination before they travel. For example, Brits and many Europeans can access emergency medical care in Australia.
However, you should get travel insurance – the cards don’t cover events like mountain rescue, and many other punches on your holiday.
Apart from these important things, here are five tips to ensure that you don’t lose your pocket outside.
1. Buying travel insurance is important
Travel insurance shouldn’t be an afterthought – it can get you into trouble.
For travel insurance to be valid for any changes you want to make or cancel or delay your flight, you must purchase it at the time of booking your travel.
Even if you don’t want to cover yourself to change flights, many companies do not allow you to buy a new policy on the day or the day before your departure. Purchase travel insurance as soon as you book your trip.
2. Declaring all existing medical conditions
Make sure your insurer knows about your pre-existing health conditions, Rolland says.
“The complaint can be dismissed if any unreported irregularities are found,” he said.
“The most common things travelers didn’t mention were: asthma, high cholesterol and high blood pressure or low blood pressure.
“The mantra should be: declare everything and if you’re not sure always talk to your travel insurance agent.”
3. Tell your insurer where you’re going – even if it’s just for one day
Different countries have different risk profiles for insurance purposes, so countries can be considered high risk even if they are close to each other.
“Portugal, for example, is known to be less risky than Spain and therefore a day trip to Spain with Portuguese holiday insurance is not covered,” said Rolland.
Check if your insurance covers each country you plan to travel to. If you have stops, make sure they are included as well.
4. Understand your deductions
Travel insurance usually includes some form of ban cover – but it’s worth double-checking what you have
Events are often ‘unforeseen’ such as natural disasters, injury or disease (these can vary), or areas that become unsafe.
Less commonly reported are undiagnosed illnesses, known illnesses of a close family member (where death is not included), alcohol- or drug-related injuries and illnesses, and systematic assaults.
5. If you extend your trip, increase your travel insurance
If you extend your vacation, don’t forget to extend your schedule. But be careful – you usually have to do it before your policy expires. If you forget, you may need to buy a new one. Some companies limit the possible extras depending on the age of the traveler and the length of the trip – so make sure you read carefully.
Travel insurance should be factored into your travel budget
It is difficult for Katherine to think about the problem that changed her life.
But he is determined to speak out, to prevent anyone else from enduring the same horrors.
In addition to checking the details of your insurance policy, they encourage prospective clients to visit their nearest hospital.
“Although I knew about the nearest hospital, it was not the place to take care of my injuries and I would advise anyone to look for a nearby hospital that has emergency equipment,” he says.
“I never thought that anything like this could happen to me and I wish I could have found a hospital to help me right away.”
Thanks to the support of family and friends, Katherine is looking forward to the future. But they encourage travelers – mostly women – be careful when walking.
“These brutal attacks could have happened anywhere and have nothing to do with the country where they happened,” he said.
“The local people are my friends with whom I made (in Sri Lanka) would not have been very helpful after the attack.”