Travel Insurance Saved My Life

Abigail Shiers Travel INsurance Saved my life

Travel insurance is one of most important things you’ll need for your trip. It’s all well and good packing your favourite bikini or 5 pairs of sunglasses, but they won’t save you when you’re in desperate need of medical treatment abroad.


Travel insurance can cover you for medical expenses (large or small), reimburse you if you lose or break any camera equipment, your flight is cancelled, you lose your bag…or your passport! It is the most important expense for your trip and in reality a very small expense in comparison to what you could be facing should you choose to go away with out it.

Even if you’re on route to the airport and are yet to board the plane, now is the time to buy your travel insurance! I strongly advise you not to travel without it, it’s something you think…’oh I don’t need that’, well let’s hope you don’t but if anything does happen, you’ll be very grateful you shelled out a small amount of your budget in comparison to paying those hospital bills yourself.

I know too well the benefits of travel insurance.


Over all my time travelling I’ve only had to claim on travel insurance around 4 times, however one of these times was pretty extreme. I’ve had to claim for an infected wisdom tooth in Rio de Janeiro (during carnival!), food poisoning in Bangkok, after being robbed in Bolivia and finally last year whilst working in Africa on safari.


So…last year prior to setting off for my 5 month stint in Africa, I did my usual research of travel insurance. It can be confusing and I have to admit I do find this a stressful aspect of any trip, simply because I want to ensure that I’m covered for any eventuality. It must be the anxious person in me.


What I’m most cautious of is finding insurance which has the highest  coverage limit on medical expenses. Yes it’s nice to have your electronics covered but your life and health are the key priority. Remember this. I normally check that the insurance I go for will provide a maximum of £10,000,000 emergency medical coverage. I’m not sure you would necessarily ever need this much, but better to be safe than sorry ay?

So back to the story…

So I had been in Zambia for a month and I started to feel unwell. I wasn’t sleeping properly and I had a slight temperature. I hadn’t been there long and I didn’t want to cause a fuss with my new employer, so I hoped for the best and dosed myself up with over the counter medicine. I was also awaiting a visit from my boyfriend and didn’t want anything to come in the way of us enjoying time together.

This was a big mistake. Prior to leaving I had been to the doctors and I had been diagnosed with a cyst, that posed no real threat and the doctor thought may go away on its own. No big deal right?

Well…a day before my boyfriend (who I had only been with for a few months) arrived, I started to feel very unwell, I had a high temperature and the cyst had become very painful.

We were due to go to Malawi by car and stay at Pumulani Lodge for a few days, for an idyllic retreat…

Pumulani Malawi Robin Pope Safaris Abigail Shiers

pumulani malawi Robin Pope Safaris

Pumulani Malawi Robin Pope Safaris 2

He arrived and we headed off, over the next few days I deteriorated and could barely walk. We had to come back to camp in Zambia and call the Valley doctor for an emergency call out.

She said my cyst had become an abscess and she needed to stop the infection from spreading any further in my body. I was prescribed 3 different antibiotics and given every painkiller she had. She managed the stop the infection spreading but the pain was unbearable, I didn’t sleep for 3 days and was in agony. This was when she injected me into my thigh muscle with Ketamine! I even had a drip hanging from my mosquito net.

Abigail Shiers Zambia Africa Travel INsurance

Being based in the middle of the African Bush, it was very difficult to get access to a hospital, and considering I couldn’t walk there was no way of being getting on a normal flight. I would need to be air ambulanced…

My boyfriend, spoke to the insurance company for me and they arranged for a plane to come and collect me to take me to South Africa. I needed to have surgery urgently.

My amazing boss, put the back seats of his car down and my boyfriend carried me from the bed I had been laying in for 3 days into the back of the car. When we arrived at the small airstrip, the plane arrived and they strapped me into the stretcher…I think this was the moment I was the most grateful I’d bought that travel insurance for my trip. I could not have been happier to see paramedics…

air ambulance zambia africa travel insurance

Air ambulanced africa voyager travel insurance

Travel insurance voyager abigail shiers

They gave me morphine there and then on the airstrip, which instantly helped reduce my pain. I was then flown to Johannesburg to have surgery.

I was in the hospital for a couple of days and then had to wait for a week in a hotel for a check up. Voyager  paid for all the costs direct for me and so I didn’t have to claim when I got home or shell out for huge costs out of my own pocket. Getting the plane off the ground alone, would have cost around £25,000! Let alone the hospital fees, the hotel and the flights back to Zambia. They covered it all…


Having insurance last year, ultimately saved my life and I really don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t had insurance…I dread to think of the expense and debt I would have accumulated.

The insurance cost me around £170 for 5 months…I’ll let you decide whether it was worth it…


Another key thing about this claim was that I let Voyager  know I had a cyst and that is why I was able to still claim. If I hadn’t told them, I would not have been covered. Always tell them pre-existing conditions. It made no difference to the cost of my insurance, so don’t be scared to tell them everything.

I’ve bought insurance though many different providers in the past, however I will definitely be using Voyager  from now on. I can’t thank them enough for the level of service they provided and the care I was given.

travel insurance voyager abigail shiers


Another person who deserves a huge thanks is to my ex-boyfriend. Although we broke up recently, I really am eternally grateful for everything he did during that time. He went above and beyond to look after me, I don’t know what I would have done without him being there.


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