"If you can afford to travel, then I think you can afford travel insurance."
So says Erin Langworthy, the Australian woman whose bungee rope snapped over Victoria Falls and survived.
Erin was with a group of friends visiting Zambia when they decided to do what many others have done before them, in Victoria Falls and other popular spots around the world such as Queenstown, New Zealand: bungee-jump. But what should have been a quick thrill left the the 22 year old mining engineer seriously injured after her bungee cord snapped. She subsequently racked up $50,000 in medical bills.
Erin’s story is part of a new campaign from the Australian Government urging Australians to take out travel insurance before heading overseas.
"Before my turn, 104 others had jumped safely and everyone from my tour group had been and come back," Erin says.
But the bungee cord did not last the 105th jump - it snapped, sending Erin plummeting 110 metres into the rapids. Just as she was making her way to the surface, she realised the cord was caught under a rock.
"That's when I said (to myself), `I don't want to die today'."
Erin managed to swim to the river bank and was taken by stretcher out of the gorge before eventually being airlifted to a hospital in South Africa.
"If I hadn't had travel insurance I would have been hit with a bill for over $50,000," Langworthy said.
"It would have ruined my holiday a little bit.”
The campaign aims to educate Australians about the pitfalls of travelling without appropriate insurance, as well as remind us to register with the Government's Smartraveller website.
"About 14,000 Australians get into some difficulty overseas each year, and that difficulty is going to be a whole lot less if they've got travel insurance and if they're registered with Smartraveller," said the Foreign Minister, Bob Carr.
He also said that Australians without travel insurance risked poor local hospital care and high medical bills.
"It's cheap, it's easy to obtain, and it can save your life when overseas."
There is also a new Smartraveller iPhone app, which allows Australians to register their travel plans without an internet connection. The app is available at www.smarttraveller.gov.au.
For quick comparisons on travel insurance, check out www.travelinsurance.com.au, or check out the major insurance companies or banks.
You can check out Erin here.
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