December, the month of Christmas and New Years'. Lots of celebrations meaning some bigger expenses. This wasn't any different this year even with corona. We just did it on our own and just handed over the gifts outside. We went a little wild with food but my income was higher so it balanced things out a little bit.
Last Updated on March 16, 2020 by Mr. FightToFIRE
Last two weeks I was on a life-changing holiday. I visited my family-in-law and proposed to my girlfriend; who said yes! Visiting her home country, meeting her closest friends and family, and proposing, was a wonderful experience. Unfortunately, this amazing time got disrupted by something that can happen to most tourists: bacterial intestinal infection.
The final bill for this illness came in at about 1500 EUR. Due to the nature of the health system in the country, I was required to sign and pay before I could get a room and further treatment. This resulted in me having to pay all of the costs with my credit card. Without an insurance I would not be able to recover any of these costs.
A life saver
I already had travel insurance when I went to the US three years prior. The US has a privatized health system so I didn’t want to risk having to cough up all potential medical bills myself. When you read that a breaking a leg costs up to 35,000 dollars I sure as hell wasn’t planning on breaking my bank account as well. I could miss that financial stress like a sore tooth.
Not wanting to get myself into financial trouble I decided to look into travel insurance. Luckily I could get a discount on travel insurance and for the very reasonable price of 40.80 EUR/year, I would be covered worldwide for all medical costs up to 100,000 EUR.
For the last three years, I fortunately never had to use it. It did provide peace of mind whenever I went outside of Europe. Especially going to places where healthcare is either private (US) or maybe not what you expect (Istanbul). I knew I was well covered for any initial medical costs.
Top 5 essential points
Before actually siging a contract I wanted to be sure that the following 5 points were covered:
- Worldwide coverage of at least 100,000 EUR
- Incl. winter sports
- Direct 24/7 response
- Baggage coverage
- Cancelation coverage
I compared and researched the major and smaller players in Belgium. I was tempted by BNP Paribas Fortis and Europe Assistance but I ended up going for ING Lion Assistance. For a small premium I got a decent coverage that would help me get through the initial medical costs. While Fortis offers up to 250,000 EUR it also costs more. I believe 100,000 EUR will cover me the first few days wherever I am.
This is lower than other insurances (some cover up to 1,250,000 EUR, and are thrice as expensive). But to be honest, if I ever have something that could cost that much, I’d rather be repatriated.
The financial coverage is, of course, only part of it. In broad terms my insurance covers:
- At home:
- Losing my house keys which prevents me from entering my home, I will get a locksmith within the hour
- Psychological assistance
- Costs of hospitalization of children at home in case parents are abroad
- household help, baby sitter, or pet caretaker in case of an injury at home
- Search and rescue costs up to 7,500 EUR;
- Medical assistance of up to 100,000 EUR per insured person;
- Support of visitation costs up to 100 EUR/day up to 10 days;
- Repatriation of the injured or sick insured incl. luggage and other insured + pets (in case pet cannot be taken care for by others);
- legal assistance because of a car accident;
- after-treatment costs in Belgium up to 2,500 EUR;
- Urgent return due to long hospitalization (+5 days) or death of immediate family members;
- Support transportation to an embassy or consulate in case of loss of travel documents;
- Loss, theft, damage or delay (+12 hours) of luggage up to 250 EUR;
- Translator during covered treatment;
- Reimbursement because of detention abroad as a result of force majeure (strikes, natural phenomena, epidemics, etc.) up to 100 EUR/day and a maximum of 500 EUR per insured person;
Sick? Sign here, please
At the hospital, I got the first aid but then it started. Signing the first paper and paying for the first ER aid. The paper was to make sure I would pay if I kept receiving help from them. After signing, they gave me some antibiotics and sent me on my way. Oh, but not before I paid about 200 EUR.
Second time is the charm
Unfortunately, my pain didn’t go away and I developed a 40° fever throughout the evening. In the early morning, I was brought to another hospital where they did the same. Only this time they decided to keep me in the hospital for at least a night -which turned into two- to keep an eye on me.
Here again, since I didn’t have a national heal insurance, I was required to first sign 7 documents stating I wouldn’t sue them for any diagnosis they would make, that I agree to pay everything they send my way, etc. Only after signing these documents and paying an 80% deposit (~600 EUR) was I assigned a room. This had the funny side effect that my travel insurance wasn’t able to be in contact with the hospital for the expenses. I signed as an individual taking the burden on myself.
Having signed everything, I received my treatment and after undergoing a course of antibiotics for 3.5 days and a stool analysis, I was discharged on Monday noon and went on my marry way. Not. If only that was it. I first had to pay of course. I got a nice list of every. single. thing. From the antibiotics the hospital gave me, to the needles they used. The total sum I had to pay right then and there was ~700 EUR.
Including the deposit that brings the total cost to ~1300 EUR. Now, don’t get me wrong, it makes sense that I had to pay for services rendered, but the way the hospital went about things, well, it left a bad taste (and it wasn’t because of the hospital food).
Seeing the total sum of both hospital visits:
- 1ste hospital: 200 EUR
- 2nd hospital:
- 600 EUR
- 700 EUR
TOTAL: ~1500 EUR
It’s safe to say that I’m relieved I have this travel insurance. The way things went wasn’t the most lovely experience but at least I didn’t have to worry about how I would pay for it all, I was able to recover completely in the comfort of a hospital bed knowing I wouldn’t suffer a huge financial drain because of it.
As I paid for everything myself there was one thing I still had to do: get my money back. At the time of writing I haven’t gotten anything back yet because I first need to get a letter from my national Health service stating that they do not cover the treatment I received. It’s a formality, but one that needs to happen in accordance with the terms and conditions of the travel insurance.
After this and using the documents I send to them through mail I will received my money within 7 days.
Once I receive the money, I can close this interesting experience.
If there is one thing I can take from this, it’s that my travel insurance has shown it’s worth 🙂 Oh and that I will put my travel insurance as my guarantor.