The travel insurance company that stuck me with a $12,000 bill for surgery

Travel Insruance 12000 dollar bill

I always take out travel insurance when I’m going on any trip but the reason I do so has nothing to do with fear of my possessions being stolen.

That would suck but it wouldn't be financially crippling or matter that much in the grand scheme of things if that were to happen. The main reason I have it is for if anything were to happen medically as those costs can be crippling and nothing is more important than your health.

I haven’t always been this old and wise ( ;-) ) though. When I was younger I took numerous overseas trips without any travel insurance. I didn’t even have any when I spent a month in Costa Rica at the age of 21. At that age I naively thought that travel insurance was just to cover theft and muggings. The medical side of things hadn’t occurred to me since I’m from England and we get free health care there so I had no idea how bad medical costs are in other countries. Over the years however luckily it occurred to me that medical costs are really expensive elsewhere and if anything were to happen in most instances you won’t be treated unless you can pay upfront or have travel insurance.

I have therefore for at least the last five or so years always taken out travel insurance when going backpacking or even just on holiday. And I’m very picky about my travel insurance. I never choose the cheapest one and always check that they cover for items such as medivac, driving motorcycles (I have a proper license) and that the monetary amount they will cover for medical costs is high.

I’ve seen far too many a GoFundMe campaign with people getting screwed by their insurance companies refusing to pay for medical evacuation when needed or having reached the medical coverage cap (it’s easy to burn through thousands very quickly if something serious goes wrong) so I specifically check for these items.

When taking out my travel insurance I therefore checked all of the details of the insurance very carefully and they fulfill all my criteria. Their medical costs coverage cap is £5 million, they cover medical evacuation and allow for motorcycle riding (and have an extreme sports add on which is rather useful for me). I thought they were so good I have actually now used this insurer twice.

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The first time they were great. I had the insurance for a year and a few months and had to claim on it once for a small viral infection. I called them before I went to the hospital to get it checked and they agreed to cover it. Going forward they then pre-approved all expenses with the hospital for my blood tests, check ups and medicine.

The treatment for that didn’t cost much, it was a virus and there’s not much you can do for them other than wait it out, but the fact that they were so good at handling it reassured me about going with them again this time too.

I took out my new policy back in September while in England for a while and well, apart from them sneakily trying to change the regions of the cover when I first took it out and a few other mishaps related to that which they eventually fixed, it’s been smooth sailing ever since.

Until this week.

At 9am on Monday morning I found out that I have an ovarian cyst that is approximately the same size as if I was 3 months pregnant and have been told that I need urgent surgery to remove it. My travel insurance are however flat out refusing to pay for it.

I contacted my insurance as soon as I found out about this to get them to pre-approve the costs since the surgery is approximately $12,000 USD and I just don't have that sort of cash lying around to pay up front.

Leaving the cyst in poses three significant risks to my health as:



Even though I have a letter from the doctor here in Singapore literally stating that he “recommends urgent surgery” and then qualifying that there are these three risks to my health if it is not carried out urgently, my insurance are still claiming that they do no deem the surgery to be "Urgent" so won't cover it.

They have instead instructed me to curtail my trip now to get surgery in England. Bear in mind as soon as I land on British soil they are no longer responsible for anything as I'm only covered by them while abroad. I wonder why this is the recommendation they're making 🤔.

Oh and they won’t even pay for my flight back (although really that’s the least of my worries in this situation).

Interestingly they do say that I need to curtail "now", not in a week or two weeks etc. but if my condition isn't urgent, as they claim, needing to return urgently for surgery in England doesn't really make sense.

They have also said (and this one's really the kicker for me) that if I ignore their advice and continue travelling they would not cover for any costs in relation to the cyst going forward. Now if they'd just discovered this was a pre-existing condition I'd understand that but this has arisen while I'm under the care of their insurance. They don't deem it to be urgent now but given my insurance does cover for urgent medical care (up to £5 mil) if this were to become more urgent due to their lack of action they should cover it. I just can't understand how they can say "oh no that's not urgent so we won't cover now but if it does become more urgent we won't cover either since you've now discovered it". Just because I've discovered it now that doesn't make it a pre-existing condition, it has arisen while under their insurance so my contract should still stand.

I'm complaining to the financial ombudsman in England about this and they think I have a strong case but in the mean time I do urgently need surgery and I don’t have $12,000.

I am so disgusted at how the insurance company are trying to wiggle out of this. If feels like they’re just making up excuse after excuse and changing their story every time. After the first rejection they told me they needed a note from the doctor to say the surgery is urgent so I got them one. Then they just said “oh well we don’t agree with that” but still think I now need to curtail immediately (which does mean they’ve accepted that the situation is urgent).

There is absolutely no way it can be better for my health to make what will be about a 20 -24 hour journey back to England while I have cyst this size in my body. That is a stressful journey and depending on what route I take I could be on a single plane for close to 18 hours. If the cyst were to rupture a few hours into that flight that would be a really dangerous situation.

They’re claiming they don’t think this is urgent but it’s clearly a thousand times more urgent than the small viral infection they covered for me before.

Given all the contradictory evidence I have to conclude in this instance that they are objecting simply because it’s a substantial amount of money.

I will be taking this to a lawyer and following up further with the financial ombudsman in England but please do let some good come of this and next time you take out travel insurance go through all of the bad medical situations you can think of with them on the phone to check what they might or might not decide on any given day to cover.

Right now I feel like I have a ticking time bomb in me that can only be removed if I can find $12,000 to counteract the negligence of my insurance company.

If any of you would like to drop them a tweet for me to say hi, sort your lives out (ya know that sort of thing) you can find them at @InsureandGo. Or feel free to hit re-tweet on any of the ones in my Twitter thread below



I'm very fussy about my travel insurance. I always check it has a high medical coverage amount, covers medical evacuation and riding motorbikes and yet still today I find myself facing a $12,000 USD hospital bill thanks to @InsureandGo

— Travel For Your Life (@travel4yourlife) February 10, 2018

At 9am on Monday morning I found out that I have an ovarian cyst that is approximately the same size as if I was 3 months pregnant and have been told that I need urgent surgery to remove it. @InsureandGo disagree.

— Travel For Your Life (@travel4yourlife) February 10, 2018

Despite these risks and the doctor's letter stating the exact thing that @InsureandGo told me they needed in order to cover this case, they are still claiming that the surgery is not urgent and they will not cover it.

— Travel For Your Life (@travel4yourlife) February 10, 2018

Interestingly they do say that I need to curtail "now", not in a week or two weeks etc. but if my condition isn't urgent, as they claim, needing to return urgently for surgery in England doesn't really make sense now does it @InsureandGo

— Travel For Your Life (@travel4yourlife) February 10, 2018

So it's not "urgent" enough for @InsureandGo yet, but if it were to become "urgent" enough, according to their definition, then they still won't cover me. That's just a flat out breach of contract.

— Travel For Your Life (@travel4yourlife) February 10, 2018

There is absolutely no way it can be better for my health to make what will be about a 20 -24 hour journey back to England while I have cyst this size in my body. That is a stressful journey and depending on what route I take I could be on a single plane for close to 18 hours.

— Travel For Your Life (@travel4yourlife) February 10, 2018

I have spoken to the financial ombudsman in England and they agree with me that this is completely unacceptable. @InsureandGo you are choosing to ignore the medical evidence and making decisions based on what suits you best, not what is best for my health in this urgent situation

— Travel For Your Life (@travel4yourlife) February 10, 2018

This is completely unacceptable @InsureandGo . What have I bothered to pay for insurance when the first time I have an urgent medical situation occur you don't even cover the costs #womenslivesmatter #itsurgent #ovariancyst #ovariancysts #worstinsuranceever

— Travel For Your Life (@travel4yourlife) February 10, 2018


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Click here and find out how you can get your own travel blog live in just 5 days without any of the usual frustration. I'll literally take you through eveyrthing you need to know step-by-step to get your blog started in record time and looking exactly how you want. But hurry enrollment is only open till midnight Sunday. As a special gift for following my blog, if you sign up now you can enter this coupon code at the checkout YEY100OFFTFYL to unlock a special offer making this by far the most affordable way you can learn how to build your very own site click here to check out Create Kick-Ass Websites.




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