When 31-year-old London builder, William Pellett, organised a golfing trip to Malaga for a friend’s birthday in September 2015, he didn’t realise it would change his life for ever and he is now telling a cautionary tale to prevent others from making the same mistake.
Then 29 years old and just a few months away from becoming a father for the first time, William booked the hotel and flights for his group of ten friends online but, when it came to making payment he decided against the option of travel insurance, mistakenly thinking that because he was travelling to Europe he would be covered.
Mr Pellet was looking for a bathroom in neighbouring hotel to where he was staying and entered a lift which took him down to an area in the basement. On finding an open door, he entered the transformer room, which should not have been accessible to guests, and received a severe electric shock.
What happened next is unclear as William woke up in hospital after three weeks in a coma with 60% upper body burns and was unable to return to the UK until January 2016, by which time his first child had been born.
Since then, William has been unable to work and has undergone numerous surgeries to repair his injuries. He says: “My life has been turned upside down. I missed the birth of my son and have not been able to return to work, which has put considerable financial pressure on our family. The added uncertainty of not being able to pay medical bills has just made the problem worse. I would advise anyone travelling abroad this year not to make the same mistake I did and take out travel insurance.”
While William was in hospital, his family instructed London personal injury solicitors, Hodge Jones & Allen, as they had no way of paying his medical bills totalling in excess of £10,000 and to pursue damages from the Spanish hotel.
Leticia Williams, partner at law firm, Hodge Jones & Allen, says: “This is a cautionary tale for anyone who thinks that while we remain in the EU, we can receive the same hospital treatment for free as we would from the NHS. You still need travel insurance if you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). With an EHIC you get the same level of state-provided medical care as someone who lives in the country you are vising. However, it will not cover the costs of getting you back home after a medical emergency and you will need to pay for part of your bills if that’s how the local system works.
“As William’s case shows, the cost of overseas treatment can really add up. Without any kind of insurance, you could find yourself having to foot the bill for potentially tens of thousands of pounds especially in places where treatment is expensive such as the US.”
William who lives in Woolwich, south London, with his partner and two young children hopes to forge a new career in driving.
According to recent research from ABTA a quarter of holidaymakers travelled abroad uninsured in the last year. Of those who travelled abroad without insurance, over a third thought they didn’t need it.