happy valentines day everybody!
apologies in advance that this one isn't accompanied with photos. it's because this one is not a show-and-tell or a travel story. yet, it sort of is. it's not a happy story. yet, it can be, depending on how you look at it. i'll let you decide.
in july 2015, when erik and i finally decided to take a leap and resume our travels, we threw caution to the wind, but took the precaution of buying travel insurance. we left london with a policy from liverpool victoria packed into our bags, hoping we wouldn't need to use it, but believing we were covered in case something bad happened.
fast forward to a year later, and something bad happened. erik was in a coma in hospital tawau, having contracted an infection that would eventually end his life. what i want to share is not that story as most of you know it already, but something else. something i'd been holding inside for too long, waiting for the right moment to tell it. something that made me so angry, i felt a rage, a deep, dark, blood red rage, and it wasn't the illness or the death…
soon after erik became ill, i contacted the travel insurance company. i was worried because it was about to run out. i had hope though because the wording on the policy booklet indicated that if an insured person becomes ill, has an accident, or dies, the coverage would continue beyond the expiration date as long as the event occurred before that date.
when i talked to a rep, i was relieved as he reassured me and confirmed that yes, erik is covered and will continue to be, and so were my expenses as his travel partner. after that initial conversation, there were more with other reps who set my mind at ease by saying they would be our advocates and do everything they could to make sure he was getting the best care possible. they checked in with the hospital and got daily reports on his progress or decline.
but then an unexpected thing happened. as erik started to make a miraculous comeback, the insurance company decided to drop our coverage. they explained that we had bought a single-trip policy with a start and end date, and since we had no plans to return to the point of origin, we were not covered. i told them that returning to london was never explained to us as a condition of coverage, and asked how could they know we had no plans to return? we could have bought a ticket on the last day and returned if the illness hadn't happened. they had no proof we were not returning.
no amount of arguing, pleading, or out-and-out begging to re-consider changed their decision. they abandoned us. the only conclusion i could draw at the time, which i still believe is true, is that when they knew his death was imminent, they could calculate the financial cost, but when erik began to recover, the underwriters had to go and re-calculate. the problem is how can you calculate, with any level of accuracy, with so many uncertainties? how long will he be in the hospital? how much time would he need to recover? when would he be able to return to end the coverage? of course they didn't tell me this, but i suspect the risk was too high. though i pointed out that the cost would be malaysian ringgit, not american dollars or british pounds, they were not swayed one bit. they dropped our coverage because death was easy to calculate, life was not.
hence the rage. not only because they broke their promise, but it was when we were at our most vulnerable. the news came at the worst possible time (is there a best possible time?), while i was overwhelmed with the stress and heartache of erik's condition, not knowing if he would live or die. i felt as if they were kicking me when i was already down. kicking me really really hard.
the rage consumed me and told me i had to do something. i was drawn to that immediately because i wanted so desperately to do something, anything. i felt helpless to do anything for erik so i turned to this and thought about all the ways i could strike back, to fight this injustice and make them see how wrong they were, how this cannot be allowed to happen to me or to anybody else, how they should be made to see, made to suffer. i wanted to expose them for the liars they were, and have my day in court.
thankfully, a voice of reason spoke to me. his name is chris knoblauch, one of the pom pom tribe, who stayed with me throughout the ordeal. he told me not to go there, i can't win that war. i don't have the resources, they have bigger and more weapons, i can't possibly touch them. i argued with self-righteousness that i am the "david" to their "goliath," and of course, i can, and i will, and i must, and, and, and…!!! thank goodness he was there to calm me down and bring me to my senses. i put it on the back burner to revisit on a day when i was more rational, when i had the clarity of hindsight.
that day is today. i look back on that experience and realize chris saved my life in so many ways just by being there with his presence and wisdom. he stayed even when i told him to go. he knew better than i that i needed him there. he also would not allow me to get onto a path of self-destruction. i see this oh so clearly now, that going down that road would have ended badly. i would have hurt myself and those around me by heading into a battle with hate and vengeance as my only allies against a perceived enemy without a conscience, without feeling.
thank you chris!
so what can i do now about what has happened? forgive and let it go. it's the only way.
having given it some time and distance, i see that i must take some responsibility for choosing to put our trust into a company without doing due diligence. we acted in haste because time was running out and the price sounded about right. also, the insurer had not purposely connived to deceive us, they were acting in the best interests of their shareholders who expected them to deliver on the profits they promised. they opted for self-preservation. they were protecting their bottom-line, their jobs, their families, their lifestyles, something we all do, each and every one of us, sometimes with kindness and consideration for others, sometimes without thinking. we've all been there at one point or another, so who am i to judge?
furthermore, i asked myself to consider that behind that seemingly lifeless entity called liverpool victoria, there are human beings, just like me, making these decisions. if i were in their shoes, if tables were turned, and i risked losing my job, if i had mouths to feed, others dependent on me, would i have done any different? maybe. maybe not. can't answer that.
so how do i resolve this and move on?
the only conclusion i could come to was to let it go and stop hurting myself. the only way to let it go is to forgive them and myself, wholly and completely. now the weight has lifted. i'd been holding it for so long, i didn't know just how heavy it was, how it was slowing me down. finally, i can cross this one off my list and move onto the next. there's plenty more where that came from, and i plan on confronting all of them. don't worry, i won't do the others publicly.
what else can i do? learn from it.
though i no longer want to dwell in the past, not this one anyway, i can learn from it and not repeat that mistake. don't wait until the last minute, do the necessary research, read the fine print, and ask insurers a lot of questions. seek out other travelers, their reviews and advice. never, never, ever go with the lowest or even the next to lowest bidder no matter how attractive their pricing or how tight the budget.
is there more? yes, share.
this is actually the point. i know that was a long-winded way of getting to it, and i hope i haven't completely bored you with something you may not care about. i certainly hope i haven't made you upset or angry. if i did, i apologize. that was not my intent. my biggest hope, the reason i am writing this to you is that this will not happen to anybody else. so i am requesting your help by passing this on to anyone you know who is thinking about buying travel insurance. please advise them to stay away from liverpool victoria. although i've forgiven them, i can't endorse the way they do business.
also, if anyone has had a positive or negative experience with an insurer, one they can give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down, please let me know. i welcome your thoughts on this, and would like to hear about your experiences, similar or otherwise.
thank you so much for reading.