In 1824 the immoderate libertine found himself in Messolonghi, consorting with Alexandros Mavrokordatos on how best to recapture the Turkish fortress of Lepanto for Greece. Falling ill in mid-february he responded badly to the treatment of ‘bleeding’, eventually developing a fever from which he never recovered. With the choice of repatriation offered by a basic travel insurance policy, would he have stayed and lost his life before the battle began? We will never know.
A nightmare proposition for any insurance broker. “You’re taking those elephants where…?”. Still, most holiday insurance policies would have offered ample compensation for the loss of a third of Hannibal’s army and most of his cavalry. With that kind of financial muscle, which was apparently unforthcoming from Carthage, very little would have stopped a march on Rome herself. Ah, what could have been…
Mired in snow and mud, starving hungry and marching towards an enemy that fled before their every approach, Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812 was as catastrophic an experience as the Frenchman had even known. With a monstrous trail of dead behind them the French took Moscow, only to find the city razed and barren. Now, if travel insurance premiums had been top of his concerns, who knows how Napoleon’s plans would have developed? Perhaps, without finding a broker crazy enough to support him, le petit caporal would have stayed in Corsica and become a lawyer like his father. Or perhaps not.
4. William Buckley
With an astonishingly strong claim for ‘Worst Holiday Ever’, we have William Buckley. Transported to Australia in 1803 for stealing a piece of cloth, Buckley and a group of fellow convicts managed to escape their prison ship onto the shores of modern day Victoria. By now alone and lost in an unreal landscape of venomous creatures he was taken in by the Wautharong Aborigines. After 32 years of an affectionate life amongst this new community he was rediscovered by a European settler ship in 1835. Officially pardoned and then hired as an interpreter he soon became disenchanted and left for Van Diemen’s Land, where he lived until his death in 1856 in as much obscurity as he had lived. Madness, we say! He should have milked his holiday insurance for all it was worth and retired to a beach-side mansion in Queensland. If it had existed.
If there’s anyone that could benefit from travel insurance, even cheap travel insurance, then it’s Odysseus. What if the Trojans decided to press charges after he sneakily trashed their city with his wooden horse? Surely there’s some mental trauma involved in trawling through Hades? Just how many shipwrecks was this man involved in? Slaughtering the cattle of the sun-god Helios was definitely a bad choice too. Now, he may be mythical, but these are things that concern a dedicated insurance broker and all we’re saying is that if he’d had the support of a decent policy behind him maybe it wouldn’t have been such an Odyssey afterall.