It's best not to leave he country without travel insurance. Pexels

It's the worst-case scenario for anyone travelling, being injured and hospitalised and then having to face a hefty hospital bill.

But 23-year-old South African, Dean Stephenson has a different story to tell.

When he headed off to California on a dream work-placement, as a volunteer ski and snowboard instructor for differently abled and cognitively challenged people, he never even considered travel insurance.

He was fortunate though that his mom Sandy Stephenson, was sensible enough to buy Stephenson a R20-million travel insurance policy from Old Mutual Insure.

As a parting gift she emailed the Travelsure cover, policy number with all the emergency details to him, who barely glanced at these in the inbox on his phone.

Then, a few months into his trip Stephenson broke his tibia, just below the left knee, in a snowboarding accident. 

While the pain was incredible, ski patrol personnel from an adjacent resort saw the accident and were able to get him to their mini clinic. The clinic alerted his manager who was able to drive him to the local hospital.

Immediately on arrival in emergency, Stephenson was placed on a drip administering painkillers. 

Overwhelmed by pain and drugs, the last thing he remembered was finding the travel insurance email from his mom on his phone. 

When he came around from an extensive operation including reconstructive surgery involving taking bone from another part of his lower leg and fusing this to his smashed tibia, all the admission, payment and discharge details had been managed. 

Stephenson's surgeon had provided the details of Dean’s travel insurance policy to the hospital administration staff who contacted his mother in South Africa. 

Over the four days and three nights that he was in hospital undergoing a US$77 000 (almost R1 million) procedure, the hospital administration staff in California settled all costs in terms of the policy.

This is just one testimony of why it's important to always ensure you have some kind of travel insurance.