I remember having a conversation with my dad about a month before flying out to Barcelona. He was double checking that I had sorted out comprehensive travel insurance, and I, bored with the masses of paperwork that needed to be completed in preparation for a semester abroad, replied with “I’m sure I won’t need it, but yes I will sort it out today.”
Fast forward to March 20th, and I found myself in hospital, after surviving what the Spanish authorities called ‘the worst coach crash Spain has experienced in 30 years.’ Lying in bed with a broken back, sternum and neck, in a hospital somewhere between Valencia and Barcelona, I felt incredibly grateful that my dad reminded me to sort out my insurance documents, so here’s me passing on the favor.
It goes without saying that insurance is a must for any planned trip abroad, whether that’s a couple of months travelling, a semester or a year abroad. University of Southampton offer free travel insurance for everyone taking semesters/years abroad throughout their course and the policy covers pretty much everything from legal costs to medical costs so there is absolutely no reason for you not to take full advantage of this.
Once you’ve sorted your insurance out, it’s not good enough to just have a digital copy floating around somewhere on your computer. PRINT OFF AT LEAST 3 COPIES! Leave one in a safe place at home, alongside all your other copies of important documentation and take the original plus a copy with you, and store separately in different folders. Therefore, if something goes wrong and you can’t be contacted (because your phone is trapped in an overturned coach for example) then your parents have all the important numbers that can be phoned in an emergency. This level of organisation allowed my parents to ring the insurance company without my involvement and set up a claim immediately. The insurance paid for my mum’s flight out to Spain the day after the accident, as well as my repatriation back to England amongst a whole heap of other costs.
The main point I’m trying to make here, is that accidents can happen at any time, and to anyone. So although you may not think that you will ever need insurance, it is 100% better to be safe than sorry, believe me.
So next time your parents want to go through all your documents and check that you have everything sorted, as dull as it may be, resist the temptation to roll your eyes and pretend that you haven’t heard them. Instead, triple check that your insurance policy covers the entire period that you’re planning on being away, and make sure that you have at least two copies of all the documents to take with you, and that there is a one copy left somewhere safe in England that can be easily accessible if you ever need it.