Travel insurance saved me $3,000 of out of pocket medical expenses when I had a motorcycle accident and had to have surgery in Ulaanbaatar.
Back in 2019 I had a motorcycle accident when I was driving a Ural motorcycle across Mongolia.
The accident threw me feet from the motorcycle, landing on my head. It was so bad I broke my collarbone and gave myself a concussion. It all happened so fast.
Luckily, I was traveling with a follow car that was able to take me to the nearest hospital in one of the local towns. They were able to give me a shot for the pain but I needed to get back to Ulaanbaatar as quickly as possible to figure out what was really going on and what treatment I needed.
At the time, I didn’t even know which hospital to go to or if they could even treat me properly.
To make a long story short, I eventually had surgery at Songdo UB Private Hospital where they used a plate and screws to straighten out my collarbone. I was in the hospital for five days before being released.
My experience turned out to be a manageable one thanks to having travel insurance that covered medical emergencies abroad. I paid $3,000 out of pocket for all the x-rays, pre-surgery tests, the surgery, and my hospital stay.
When I was back in the U.S. I was able to submit all my paperwork to my travel insurance company and receive a full refund for the expenses. It was a quick and painless process that made me vow to never travel without travel insurance again.
Now that you know my personal experience using travel insurance, let me tell you more about why I always recommend it to travelers coming to Mongolia.
First, as you can tell, Mongolia is dangerous. Not in the people-will-rob-you sense, but in the remote and rugged sense. You’re often traveling on dirt roads, in every type of weather, and without cellular signal. When you’re out there, you are out there.
Second, that horse you’re going to want to ride? It’s semi-wild. This isn’t a place where trail rides are uneventful. These horses have spunk. All too often I’ve seen people thrown from one, myself included.
I’m not telling you this to scare you. I’m telling you to make sure you understand the realities of traveling in Mongolia.
Broken bones, concussions, twisted ankles, even food poisoning… you never know what Mongolia is going to throw your way. When it happens, which it usually will, you don’t want to be unprepared.
Thankfully, emergency medical services and healthcare are not expensive in Mongolia, compared to western standards. A $3,000 surgery bill isn’t a fun expense to swallow, but it is better than a $30,000 hospital bill, if you ask me.
Some policies are able to pay your medical expenses up front so that you don’t have to pay anything out of pocket. Be sure you understand how this works when you purchase your policy.
One more important thing to note about travel insurance. Travel insurance doesn’t replace your primary health insurance. It is a supplemental coverage that only covers your expenses when you’re outside of the country. You will need to show proof that you have a primary healthcare insurance plan in your home country when filing a claim. Travel insurance is basically your emergency backup plan.
Depending on your policy, travel insurance can also cover these things.
In truth, most people say ‘those things will never happen to me’ and never purchase a policy. Unfortunately, no matter how careful you are when you travel, accidents happen.
Do your own research. Ask your travel friends which providers they trust and have had good experiences with. Compare plans and pricing between travel insurance providers and find the best policy and coverage for you and your unique needs.
Once you know what sort of activities you’ll be doing on your trip to Monoglia, double check that your policy covers them.
Backpacking, camel riding, camping, hiking, horse riding, motorcycling, road tripping, trekking, walking, running… usually non-competitive, leisurely activities like these are always covered. If you plan to do something more technical, or as part of a bigger organized event (like the Mongol Derby, for example), make sure your policy covers these sporting events.
Author: Breanna Wilson
Hi! Sain uu! I’m Breanna, an American travel writer and adventurer living in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia for more than 5 years. I’ve written for and been featured in Condé Nast Traveler, CNN, Forbes, and the New York Times, among others. Read more of my Mongolia travel articles here.
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