The tale of the treacherous tuk tuk and why medical cover is a must
Written by Jamie Bubb-Sacklyn on April 23, 2018.
This story is not about just any old tuk tuk journey across town – as treacherous as they can often be. This is about the Rickshaw Run, a bonkers 3,000km race across India in a motorised tuk tuk which I competed in to raise money for charity in 2016. Despite the somewhat dubious state of the Indian roads and the mad unpredictability of fellow road users (and not just those taking part in the race!), my friends and I had a relatively easy ride as we made our way from Jaisalmer, in North West India to Shillong, in the North East. Aside from a few scrapes to our tuk tuk in Jaipur, and a lost exhaust (which took its toll on our ears until we managed to get it fixed), we suffered nothing more serious than the dreaded, and seemingly obligatory, Delhi belly! And, we had a huge amount of fun.
Sadly, the same cannot be said of other participants in the race. One less fortunate group had a horrific experience while hurtling down the steep slopes of the Indian Himalayas from Darjeeling. When the brakes on their tuk tuk failed they faced an unenviable choice: drive off the edge of a cliff to certain death, or crash into the mountain. They obviously chose the latter which ensured their survival but resulted in one unlucky girl breaking her back and requiring an airlift by helicopter to the nearest hospital. Fortunately for her she had comprehensive medical insurance to cover the cost of the helicopter rescue and the treatment. Thankfully she had also heeded the advice of the event organisers and carried a copy of the policy documents in the tuk tuk (along with the rest of her belongings, where else were they meant to go?). This meant that neither she, nor her parents, were out of pocket and, crucially, that there were no critical delays in getting her the treatment she needed while she proved her ability to pay.
Granted the Rickshaw Run is something of an extreme event and anyone taking part would be insane not to take out insurance. However, I would argue that travelling anywhere without insurance is a risk that is simply not worth taking because you just never know what might happen. To give a less dramatic example, a friend came a cropper on a rented motocross bike as we toured around the Thai island of Koh Tao. He crashed and ended up spending three nights in a Koh Samui hospital at the hefty cost of £1,000 per night. Again, we were lucky that he had valid insurance documents to hand as the hospital refused to give any treatment before seeing them.
Most expats living in Asia want to take advantage of the fabulous opportunities to jetset off to exotic locations for the weekend but it really is crucial to make sure you are fully covered insurance-wise for any eventuality. Travellers contract illnesses or are blamelessly involved in accidents all the time and believe me, the cost of hospitalisation or medical treatment can mount up frighteningly fast. You would be stupid/mad and/or reckless not to transfer this risk to an insurer to be certain that whatever happens you will have access to the most effective treatment and the best medical facilities available without delay.
If you don’t already have cover, or if you would like your current cover reviewed to ensure that it meets your requirements and that you are getting the best deal possible, why not get in touch for a free, no-obligation consultation? Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.