Don't forget your travel insurance!

Yes, it seems very basic indeed, but it is amazing how many people 'forget' to buy travel insurance before they leave for faraway shores. Perhaps its a particularly British trait - we're used to our government covering us across Europe so when we venture further we just don't think - but getting stuck on the wrong side of the world with no insurance is no joke when the worst happens.

A friend of mine came to visit me in Saigon - he'd been working on a yacht from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean and so had been covered by his employer for that stretch of the journey. He decided to leave his job and come and visit, but didn't think to get cover for the rest of his travels. One night in Saigon he came off his motorbike and managed to break his jaw in five places - very nasty but it could have been far worse. It still meant getting his jaw wired shut for six weeks and metal plates in his mouth, as well as a whopping medical bill for thousands of pounds.

Happily he is healed and scar free, but I doubt he'll make the same mistake again. I felt very sorry for the family when I read this article in the Telegraph - a family was left with a £25,000 medical bill when a motorbike accident landed their son in hospital.

The tragic thing was he did have travel insurance and he was wearing a helmet - so you would think he would be covered. Yet as the boy didn't have a full motorcycle licence in the UK the insurers refused to honour his claim. I know of many people - myself included - who have learnt to drive a motorbike while overseas but never got a licence back home. Let this be a warning - its a good time to check you are covered as not all insurers will protect you. I'm also not sure whether having a Vietnamese motorbike licence would cover you if you didn't have a licence at home - anybody know?