Accidents and Illness when Traveling Abroad – What Should You Do?

Traveling abroad is, for many of us, the ideal time to be worry-free and simply enjoy ourselves, even if we are on a business trip. However, a lot of unexpected things can happen while we’re abroad!

Furthermore, most of us don’t know how to handle unexpected things when abroad. It’s safe to say that being involved in an accident in a foreign country is nothing like hitting another vehicle in the parking lot of your supermarket.

Given the many countries with dozens of different driving habits, culture, and social habits, it is essential that we do our best to avoid getting injured or ill – so that we, ultimately, avoid dealing with catastrophic personal injury.

As such, in the following lines, we’ll tell you what to do when you’re faced with an accident or illness when abroad!

Insurance is Mandatory

First of all, we do have to point out the obvious. Traveling without proper travel health insurance is a big no-no and you should never ever board a plane or a bus bound for abroad without being insured.

Why? Well, if you travel to a remote part of a third-world country, even a sprained ankle may require air evacuation, depending on the severity of the situation. If you don’t have insurance, you risk not only being denied medical assistance but also being charged extra for evacuation, medicine, and so on.

What Should You Do?

Now, let’s move on to the essentials – namely, what to do in case you get involved in an accident or fall ill while abroad!

  • Who to Contact?

When you need medical assistance or even advice – as a result of being involved in an accident or being ill -, the best thing you can do is call your insurance company.

Insurance policies come with an international number that travelers can use to call their insurers and, ultimately, get medical treatment, transport, and so on arranged for them.

  • What About Payment?

Insured or not, you should always have enough funds on you to cover the costs of potential medical costs, including medicine, surgeries, evacuation, and repatriation.

For example, even if you’re insured, a local doctor may still charge you for a consultation. Moreover, if you use an EHIC, then you can claim the money you have to pay for abroad treatments only after you return to your country of origin.

  • Accidents and Illnesses

When you get in an accident or become ill, it is important to document everything that happens. After an accident, you’ll make sure that the police make a report and you also ask for one; the same applies to the medical report provided by the doctor, any bills, scans, x-rays, and so on.

In the case of illness, it is advised to keep all the bills and recipes related to the medicine you used or were instructed to use via prescription.

  • During and After Hospital Treatment

While you are in the hospital, you should keep your insurance company up to date with your condition. Any tests that you take while hospitalized should also be documented.

After you get out of the hospital, decide on what you want to do – continue your trip or return home. In case you want or have to return home, your insurance company may provide you with options/opportunities on returning home earlier with little to no extra costs.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, even if you’re protected by an insurance policy, you should still document everything that happens to you as soon as you fall ill or get injured due to an accident.

On top of that, it is also essential that you don’t rely only on your insurance. Make sure to pack a first-aid kit and medicine that you may need with you and, naturally, always pay attention to your surroundings!

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Peter is a digital nomad who largely writes from Asia, Europe, and South America. Always following the "vibe," he sets up shop in hostels and AirBNB's and continues to entertain us with wild stories from life abroad.

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