Keep your eyes peeled!

We all look forward to our holiday time, be it a long, lazy vacation or a more strenuous trekking-style break, but we rarely expect to have accidents or problems while we are away. However, sometimes accidents do happen and when we least expect them – so it definitely does pay to be well protected and prepared with your medical insurance. A client of ours, based in Switzerland, was enjoying a relaxing break in Mazatlan, Mexico, soaking up the sun and generally having fun – her time in Mexico was part of a longer trip where she planned to be away for about 3 months travelling. She had been swimming and snorkelling several times in the warm waters of the Pacific, but on this particular day decided just to swim because the waves were a little choppier.

Because of the water conditions, she couldn’t see anything clearly around her so was unaware of the lurking danger. Suddenly she felt ‘a contact with her left leg’, nothing sharp, but a definite sensation. Just a few minutes later she felt a pain coming up from her left leg to her stomach and heart. She had, in fact, been stung by a jellyfish, which she had been unable to see because of the waves. However, when conditions are appropriate, jellyfish can be found in large quantities in near shore surface waters. In the Pacific the vast majority of jellyfish are harmless, but a few, such as the Portuguese man-of-war do pack a respectable sting and can cause real problems.

This is quite unlike the sea wasp jellyfish of Australian waters, which has a well-deserved deadly reputation - you should always leave the water immediately if they sighted as they often kill. However, whatever the type of jellyfish, they definitely need to be treated with respect at all times, as even a jellyfish that is long dead can still sting. The many tentacles of a jellyfish are each studded with thousands of potent nematocysts and this is where the strongest sting is concentrated. With most jellyfish that sting, people usually experience pain, itching and a rash that may last for several hours. Some people, as with our client, suffer a more severe reaction because they are more sensitive to the sting. Although there are things you can do yourself to help with the symptoms of a sting, such as removing any pieces of tentacle as soon as possible and using ice packs to numb the area, it is always best to seek medical advice.

Unluckily for this client, she was suffering from a more severe reaction, but she was still able to get ashore where friends helped her immediately to a doctor close by who treated her as an emergency. She stayed at the doctor’s surgery for about 5 hours and when she felt better was able to leave and get back to where she was staying. When it came to the payment, the client was still not feeling completely well – the medicine had made her feel a little dizzy so she couldn’t properly read the treatment cost. Also her Spanish wasn’t very good and the doctor’s English was limited. So she paid what she thought was 140US dollars on her credit card for the emergency treatment, only to find out a couple of weeks later, when she was still travelling, that the actual cost was 1,400US dollars! Our client then realised that the cost was much higher and so instantly contacted us by email. She relied on her credit card for her travelling expenses and could not afford to be ‘out of pocket’. As usual, our customer service acted quickly and efficiently, reassuring the client that the claim would be settled within 5 days. With this peace of mind, the client was able to carry on with her trip, keeping a wary eye out when swimming! With no pre-authorisation of claims under £2,500 and a fast and efficient back office, claims submitted to April International UK are settled within 5 days on average and often quicker than that. This gives our clients one of the fastest settlement times in the market.