Cambodia bound, the boring bits, Travel Insurance



I got stung yesterday.  Literally,  I don’t know if it was an angry, drunk, unemployed, German wasp in a bad mood that got me, or if that is just xenophobic scare-mongering on the part of our local rag, but I definitely was got.  I was probably asking for it, smugly on my way back from a run, but it really, really hurt.  My neck has swollen up like elephant man and it burns and itches more than seems possible.  In an attempt to soothe the sting I resorted to holding a frozen bottle of milk against it for most of the rest of the day.  Whilst this seemed like a good idea at the time, it ended badly.  The frozen milk melted, not entirely unexpectedly I grant you, but I hadn’t reckoned on the freezing process having damaged the bottle (I know, liquid expands on freezing la de da, but thought the plastic bottle would expand a bit too to accomodate that), upshot was that melting milk oozed out of the bottle as I sat.  I did feel the liquid trickling down, but thought it was just water satuarating me from condensation on the outside of the bottle.  It wasn’t.  It was rapidly melting milk.   Cool milk is allegedly very good for the skin and complexion,  I have no evidence in support of that one way or the other.  I do however have evidence that cool milk is not very good for clothing, soft furnishings or for improving my mood.  Nice.  I fear my whole flat will start to smell of sour milk over the coming weeks irrespective of my manic damage limitation exercise on discovery of this appalling truth.  Damage limitation involved cleaning sponges and anti-bacterial spray, and much mopping up with cheap kitchen towel.  Anyway, upshot is that it wasn’t the best of days, I hope it wasn’t an omen, because yesterday was Trip Confirmation Day!

I needed to sort out travel insurance.  My mind is focused on this because, whilst you choke at the expense of something you hope you will never need, it just isn’t worth the risk of going without in my book.  Also, to be honest, neither the tour company I’m doing my initial tour with (Intrepid) nor the organisation I’m joining (CWF) will accept me without evidence of this.   Interestingly, both recommend World Nomads, who I used when I went to Vietnam on the strength of their reputation (I think Lonely Planet endorse them too).   I found it eye-wateringly expensive, but it does appear to be the most appropriate, or in any event the most universally endorsed, perhaps it has just cornered the market, but I feel reasonably confident that if all metaphorical travel insurance roads are heading to the Rome of World Nomads who am I to buck that trend?

all roads lead to rome

I think I must have some sort of automatic over-ride/ shut down setting when it comes to reading small print.  I find it instantly tedious, whilst simultaneously being overwhelmed by the sense that this is IMPORTANT, I really ought to read, understand and internalize.  I feel the same about my pension to be honest.  Anyway, I know I must have something that covers my work, and, based on my experience in Vietnam, I am also really keen to ensure that I am covered for riding pillion on mopeds and maybe motorbikes.  It was quite common in Vietnam to clamber on the back of a colleague’s bike to go off somewhere or other, and that is possibly about the riskiest of activities given the traffic out there.  I do know that Cambodia and Vietnam are different countries, but I doubt the traffic is going to suddenly take on the mood of an evening stroll down a beach side promenade from crossing the border.   Also focusing the mind, there was a recent high-profile accident of Scottish judo medallist in Vietnam motorbike accident , she turned out not to have correct insurance.  There is a sense of ‘there but for the…’ etc.  (She’s doing OK now by the way).

Sooo, checked on the website, got neurotic about whether or not bikes in Cambodia are over or under 125 cc, and rang the website to double and triple check what cover was needed.  Basically, the person I spoke to initially said if I go for Explorer Package (up one from basic) I can add in level 2 motorbike to get pillion cover.  It was all a bit white noise to be honest, I didn’t really get what she meant, but figured I’d work it out.  Maybe I was distracted by droplets of melted milk dripping down the back of my neck and not concentrating properly.  I couldn’t face it, so decided to buy insurance first thing today.  Reader, I was all geared up ready to go, and on quadrupley checking the small print noticed it said that you’d only be covered pillion if you were with a ‘professional, qualified tour leader or guide’.  Uh?  I couldn’t make sense of it.  Everyone goes pillion in SE Asia, they can’t all be uninsured, plus I’m sure I got that cover last time.  I rang the help line again.  Long circular conversation ensued.  Them ‘yes you are covered‘.  Me: ‘that’s not what it says on the website‘.  Them ‘yes it is‘.  Me: ‘no it’s not‘.  And so on. Eventually, the woman looked on the website: ‘Oh, the website is wrong, that’s just a misprint!’  Oh, so that explains it.  I don’t know if that makes me stupid or smart.  Stupid for not realising it was an error, or smart for checking out the small print.  In all seriousness though, it’s an interesting point.  It shows how subconsciously I believe stuff on t’internet, just because it’s written down, even if it doesn’t make any sense.  Still, I’m glad I checked.  I’m not planning on having an accident out there, but if I do, just before my head hits the ground I can take comfort in knowing my policy is valid… in this instance at least.

Later I found this very clear info on the website, which seems pretty conclusive in answer to the question: Am I covered on a motorbike with World Nomads insurance well, let’s hope so!

So whether or not I was stung twice, once by a wasp and once by my travel insurers remains to be seen .  I hope I don’t get to find out.  Travel insurance is a necessity I feel, well it is for me, but it is sooooooooo expensive, easy to miss it out in the budgeting.   Hey ho though, I feel better for having it in place even so.


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