Travel insurance not only saved her life, now it's helped Natalie Hensby get a head start on her next overseas adventure.
Natalie was the inaugural winner of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Smartraveller 'Travel Tales' competition.
Australian travellers were asked to describe an overseas travel tale where they benefited from being a Smartraveller – or where they wished they'd been one.
The competition attracted a wide range of heart-tugging, hilarious, terrifying and gut-wrenching travel stories.
From a strong field, Natalie won with her video about an ill-fated boat trip to a 'Full Moon Party' in Thailand. She and her friends were travelling on a boat that collided at full speed with another vessel and Natalie was knocked unconscious and thrown into the water with serious injuries.
"Luckily my friend registered our details with Smartraveller, which allowed DFAT to contact our travel insurance company and our families immediately following the accident," Natalie said.
"I was medevaced to Bangkok for surgery and hospitalised for three weeks.
"My travel insurance claim was over $100,000. My travel insurance policy saved my life."
Deborah Sugden took out second place with her vivid account of the tsunami that struck Samoa in September 2009. She had registered her trip with Smartraveller and, as a result, the High Commission was able to contact her quickly, confirm she was safe and relay that information to concerned family back in Australia.
Alison Burdon placed third with her photo entry depicting local fishing women in Kisumu, Kenya. By reading the travel advice she was able to stay healthy and get the most out of her holiday.
The three winners were each awarded a share of $6000 in travel vouchers for their next overseas adventure.
Smartraveller encourages travellers to prepare for their overseas adventures by registering their travel plans, reading and subscribing to travel advice and alerts, and taking out appropriate insurance before leaving the country.
For information about Smartraveller and DFAT's consular role, please visit www.smartraveller.gov.au.