Jeffrey Yates had just embarked on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday with his wife to celebrate their wedding anniversary.

Instead, he ended up racking up a whopping $223,255 bill, the biggest claim his insurance company had seen during 2017.

The 71-year-old from Western Australia said the pair’s much-anticipated trip had started off well.

“The trip was a particularly special one as it was our 50th wedding anniversary, so it was something we’d been looking forward to for quite some time,” Mr Yates told

“We started in Dubai, and then went over to Athens. From there, we jumped on a cruise from Athens to Barcelona.”

But things soon took a turn when Jeffrey was struck with a series of illnesses while in Italy.

“We were only a week in when my health started to deteriorate,” he said. “I contracted legionnaires’ disease and pneumonia which led to me discovering that I had emphysema on the trip.

“The experience was quite scary and my wife and our two friends had to leave the cruise early to assist during my recovery.”

He ended up in hospital for more than a month.

“Within three days they’d dropped us off in Naples to see a specialist hospital, which led to 16 days in intensive care. This was followed by an extended stay in hospital.

“All up, I was out of action for 47 days. After all was said and done, the total came to well over $220,000 … It was an extremely difficult situation.”

Jeff says that while the couple always take out travel insurance, it was more for his wife who has ongoing health issues. He hadn’t anticipated he would need it.

“It’s not something you think about, especially given how quickly those transportation and hospital bills can add up,” he said.

“Of course, we were disappointed that such a long-awaited trip had been cut short, but we are grateful that it wasn’t worse and that we weren’t left out of pocket.”

He says his experience show that all travellers need to protect themselves when travelling – as you really never know what could happen.

Jeff still has ongoing health issues that he is being monitored, including breathing issues for which he still requires oxygen.

Article created in partnership with Over60