Stroke victim stranded
Court Insurer refuses to cover flight
Travel insurance failed a Paremata family forced to borrow more than $10,000 after their Scottish mother had a rare stroke while visiting.
Celia Matheson, 81, thought she had all her ducks in a row when she paid almost £450 for insurance before visiting New Zealand in April.
Two weeks into her holiday, Matheson had a rare spinal stroke that left her bedridden.
Thanks to a reciprocal health arrangement between Britain and New Zealand, Matheson was cared for under the public health system.
Now she must return to Scotland to have specialist spinal care.
Her British-based insurance company, Capita, has refused to pay for her flight or care because it believes the stroke is related to her high blood pressure.
However, Matheson’s doctors have told the insurance company the stroke had nothing to do with a pre-existing condition.
‘‘It was a downright disgrace. [Capita Insurance] refused altogether to have anything to do with it,’’ Matheson said.
‘‘ They have persisted and told [ the doctors] I was not covered. What more can we do?’’
‘‘We are absolutely stranded by this. It’s hard enough having all this, without the financial worry too. I resent it strongly.’’
Capita Insurance does not have a New Zealand representative and Kapi-Mana News inquiries to its British office went unanswered at the time of print.
Matheson’s doctor, Kate Barnard, said staff at Capital and Coast District Health Board had been in contact with the insurance company several times.
Barnard said that unlike brain-related strokes, spinal strokes were not caused by high blood pressure.
‘‘In a spinal cord stroke, the underlying cause may be from a blood vessel damaged by a tear or infection, or by a blood clot which forms somewhere else like the heart,’’ she said.
Though Matheson was furious at her insurance company, she said the New Zealand health system had been excellent.
Matheson now has to either move to a hospital with spinal facilities, with the cost falling on daughter Dee Lindsay and her husband Stephen, or get home to Scotland.
The Lindays had no option but to borrow the $10,500 needed to get Matheson home.
‘‘[The British Consulate] agreed to help cover the fares for now. But my passport is taken off me until that is paid back,’’ Dee Lindsay said.
Matheson has to fly with an assistant, Dee. They need to travel business class because of all her medical equipment.
With the family being under financial stress, Dee said she had concerns about repaying the money.
‘‘ We simply do not have the money. That’s left us stranded.’’
Stephen Lindsay owns a business that specialises in fixing leaky homes, but the past few years have been tough.
The couple said the community had rallied behind them, with bake sales and a Give a Little page being started. She said any help was much appreciated. Matheson and Dee plan to fly to Scotland on June 16. To help, visit givealittle.co.nz/ cause/helpdeesfamily.
Let down: Stroke sufferer Celia Matheson with her family Dee and Stephen Lindsay and their children Akira and Kalton.