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.