By Sarah Mills, ninemsn Money
Travel insurance protects tourists against theft, baggage loss, delayed flights, hospitalisation and any number of calamities. While only a small percentage of trips result in a claim on travel insurance, when something does go wrong, it can go wrong in a spectacular way.
We interviewed friends, scanned the Web and pestered travel insurers such as Mondial, World Nomads and Online Travel Review for some of their weirdest travel claims and story. Whether it's colliding with a zebra in a safari park, having deadly scorpions removed from one's ear or the more generic Delhi belly type of disaster, it just goes to prove Murphy's Law that if something can go wrong, it will go wrong.
Don't cheque your undies
A not-so-intrepid traveller in Barcelona was advised by other patrons of her hotel of recent muggings in the area. In a fit of paranoia, she stuffed about $1500 worth of travellers cheques down her underpants before rambling down La Rambla. Surprisingly, by midday they had disappeared. She called her cheque provider and they cancelled the cheques and issued new ones immediately.
The tale of a gentleman visiting Gibraltar has been doing the rounds of the Internet. The man was minding his own business when a monkey harassed him and stole his camera: he filed a claim and one assumes he was reimbursed … although the story leaves you hanging.
Backpacker suffers testicle strain
A backpacker in Germany claims that after climbing the hills with 5000 steps in jeans he experienced pain in his right testicle. Three weeks later he visited a specialist and was advised that the weight from his backpack had caused strain in that region. The pain continued for at least four months, although his future is still intact.
Worms, eggs and legs
A nasty fly in Southern Mexico managed to ruin one traveller's holiday by laying eggs under the skin of his leg that later hatched into larvae. A doctor was able to remove three worms but the fourth refused to budge. The doctor advised the best thing to do would be to buy a piece of meat and leave it on the leg to entice the worm out. Sure enough, six hours later when the victim removed the meat, the worm had emerged half its body length and he pulled it out. This operation was later followed by blood tests for parasites.
Enough to really bug you
A university professor visiting New Caledonia in search of an insect native to the country's jungle managed to fall out of a tree and into a ravine, suffering a compound fracture. It was 18 hours before he was found which led to a severe infection. Noumea's hospital costs start at $1500 a night while a day in intensive care starts at $3000.
An 18-year-old male set off on his first overseas adventure to a summer camp in the US and had the misfortune to be bitten by a moose tick. He suffered an adverse reaction which caused Lime Disease and placed him in grave danger of suffering a heart attack or stroke. He was transported to hospital and spent two weeks recovering in out-patient care and was forced to extend his stay past his scheduled return date. His insurer replaced his ticket with an upgrade and paid for the overall cost of this misadventure which was estimated at $150,000. His insurer gets a big tick!
One thing that Australians often don't consider when travelling overseas is the ever-present scare of rabies in most countries. One traveller in India tells of being bitten by a puppy that bit 13 others and died four days later of rabies. The traveller didn't discover the puppy had rabies until reaching Kathmandu and, given the delay, received a human gobulin shot followed by a series of five shots.
Gypsy scams are legend but no-one wants to be the victim. A tourist in Argentina tells of being approached by a blond gypsy man who asked permission to bless the tourist's money for safe travels. After receiving the inevitable refusal, he insisted on accepting a plant that he had in his hand and to put it inside the wallet for good luck. After receiving a second rejection he was joined by two female accomplices from behind, holding bottles of water, which they claimed would be used to bless the money. As the tourist turned to protect his backpack, the gypsy grabbed his i-Pod and wallet from his pocket. The victim fled and filed a report with the police.
The following documented calamities would all have been entitled to travel insurance.
A scorpion on an aircraft crawled out of a passenger's backpack on an American Airlines flight from Miami to Toronto and bit someone. The incident caused a delay at Toronto and no-doubt incurred a couple of medical bills as well.
Leg goes walkabout
British Airways recently lost the prosthetic leg of a New Zealand woman travelling to compete in the world athletic championships for the disabled in Amsterdam.
When they've got to go
Two drug-sniffing pooches at Thailand's Chang Mai airport were fired for making sexual advances to passengers and urinating on baggage. Damage to luggage is usually covered under travel insurance.
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