While it seems obvious that you should not drink tap water or drinks with ice when traveling in a developing country, some people still accidentally consume it. I ended up being hospitalized for an amoeba infection. This incident had me saying:
THANK GOD I BOUGHT TRAVEL INSURANCE!
To start, I want to clarify that we did not drink tap water or any of the drinks sold on the street in Cuba.
We always drank bottled water, and when we had cocktails, it was only in first-class paladares (restaurants) and we had breakfast every day in our private house.
I do not know the exact root cause of the infection because even after some analyzing, it could be anything – the ice that they put in the breakfast juice in all the houses… the water bottles that we bought and then discovered were filled with boiled water… the mojitos from the paladares that could be using tap water… Whatever it was, I spent an awful night.
So, my advice is:
No matter how careful you are, buy A TRAVEL INSURANCE.
Not only did I lose a day of vacation from spending it in the hospital, if I didn’t have insurance, I would have had to pay more than 500€ in medical bills.
And my second advice, almost as important as the first:
CHOOSE a good TRAVEL INSURANCE. MAKE SURE that it COVERs ALL YOUR NEEDS WITHOUT HIGH OUT OF POCKET COSTS.
As we told you in the Complete Guide to organize your trip to Cuba, we purchased the basic insurance that they offered when we applied for our entry visas. While it was cheap, in the end it turned out a bit more expensive than some other options, as we will tell you later.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH CUBAN HOSPITALS
It had been a long day discovering the surroundings of Trinidad. Although we were having fun in the house of music, I was not in full power, so we left shortly after. As soon as we got home, we knew we were going to have a difficult night.
The next morning, I was not able to get out of bed, so Dani called the travel insurance to see which hospital he should take me to. Interestingly, there are hospitals for Cubans and specific hospitals for tourists in Cuba that they refer to as International Hospitals. Luckily, the one in Trinidad was quite close to our private house. However, I was so dehydrated and weak that we had to go on bicitaxi.
I’ve never been in a hospital in my life where I have been attended to so quickly. 20 minutes after entering the door, I was hooked to IV. Then, they did some tests to confirm that it was amoebas, which had also infected 90% of those who were there.
I began to recover after two liters of IV fluid and treatment. After lying down horizontally with my face down for four hours, I was eager to return to the private house. However, we were not aware that the complicated thing was yet to come.
CALLS TO TRAVEL INSURANCE
When you travel with health insurance and end up at the hospital, generally you have two options:
- Pay the invoice amount and file a claim for reimbursement later.
- Call the insurance so they process payment directly and leave the hospital without paying.
We did not want to have to pay in advance, so we called the insurance three times… After an hour and a half, we finally got on the phone and were able to go home.
The Cuban health care surprised me a lot, and in a good way. I found it hard to believe that the service would be so good in local hospitals.
However, my experience with travel insurance did not end here. The most unpleasant surprise, and the reason why I say that it was cheap but turned out to be expensive, was coming.
Upon returning to Spain, we found a bill of 150€ in phone calls to the insurance. We tried to get money back from the calls, but in the end, they did nothing. Because I made a bad decision when choosing health insurance, I ended up paying a lot more than necessary.
WHAT WE DID NOT LIKE ABOUT THE TESTED INSURANCE
The only reason we chose that insurance for Cuba was the price. For the following trips, we decided to do a much deeper analysis on different insurances to find one that would suit our travel style the best.
The biggest difficulties we encountered were:
- Bundled packages that couldn’t be customized for the coverage we need most, for example, compulsory inclusion of services such as laptop theft, adventure sports, cancellation, etc. We want these services for some of our trips, but we preferred them to be optional so that our final price would be cheaper.
- Some did not cover basic aspects that you do not usually think about, but that can end up costing a lot later. For example, the insurance we used for Cuba didn’t cover telephone calls abroad.
- Difficulty with buying: Some required long and tedious questionnaires that never seemed to end for buying a simple insurance. We already have to prepare countless things for an important trip, the last thing we wanted to waste time on was filling out endless amounts of forms.
THE INSURANCE THAT WE ARe USING FOR OUR RECENT TRIPS
Within these premises, we set out to search amongst the infinite number of travel insurance companies available on the internet. Finally, we found World Nomads, one that’s customizable and affordable.
To help figure what coverage suits you, you can get a quote in less than a minute here.