Paul’s painful and costly lesson in holiday insurance

You can be even more relaxed about jetting off for your holiday if you've bothered to buy proper tra

You can be even more relaxed about jetting off for your holiday if you've bothered to buy proper travle insurance, says Sharon Griffiths. - Credit: PA

Opinion: Holidaying without travel insurance? Then you're an idiot, says Sharon Griffiths

Don't travel without insurance… don't travel without insurance… don't travel without insurance.

Is the message getting across? Actor Paul Nicholls will tell you why.

The former East End star is lucky to be alive after falling down a waterfall in Thailand while taking a selfie. Did no one tell him waterfalls are wet and slippy places?

He certainly paid for his mistake. He smashed his kneecap and then lay in agony for three days until the shopkeeper from whom he'd hired the motorbike to get to the waterfall raised the alarm and the emergency services carried out a tricky rescue, by which time Paul was in a bad way - semi-conscious and had contracted a tropical infection.

He was taken to a private hospital - £300 a night, £2,000 for the operation and that's before any extras. And he didn't have travel insurance…

Luckily, his stepfather was willing to pay up and Paul then transferred to a state-run hospital where he's apparently getting fantastic treatment, recovering well and is very grateful to everyone who helped him.

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But wouldn't it have been cheaper and easier for everyone if he'd forked out for travel insurance? For someone young, fit and healthy it's a piddling expense, especially set against the cost of the holiday.

Yet it's amazing how often we're asked to contribute thousands to bring home sad victims of foreign illness or accidents who haven't bothered with insurance.

And don't think your European Health Insurance card will save you either.

A young neighbour - who, as a solicitor, should have known better - was taken ill with a tummy bug in Spain. He hadn't bothered with insurance because Spain is part of the EU and we have a reciprocal arrangement so treatment is free, right?

Up to a point. Treatment is free in state hospitals but in many tourist areas the only hospitals are privately owned and run, where these arrangement don't work.

So that severe dose of the runs ended up costing him nearly £3,000, which made him even sicker.

Buying travel insurance is boring. But it takes minutes and it's not half as boring as trying to raise thousands of pounds for hospital treatment on the other side of the world. If they'll even treat you without seeing your money…

Think it couldn't happen to you? It could.

Just ask Paul Nicholls.