FEEL THE BURN!
Without insurance, a holiday injury can sting your wallet too...
After sinking another sundowner cocktail, I sighed to my mate Jacqui Blyth, ‘This is the life.’ It was January this year, and instead of our usual cheap and cheerful package, we’d splashed out on a £700 allinclusive week at Cape Verde, an island off the coast of Africa. Not cheap mind, on my council worker’s salary, but it promised to be worth it.
It was day two and we’d toured the island in an open-topped jeep.
But after dinner, back in our room, I had a funny turn.
‘I can hardly breathe,’ I told Jacqui, 55.
It was like a lead weight on my chest.
The hotel doctor sent me to a nearby clinic, where they did an ECG of my heart and kept me in overnight, but everything seemed normal.
‘Maybe it was sunstroke from the jeep ride,’ Jacqui suggested. But two days later, I was suddenly in agony, this time with back pain. Something was definitely wrong.
Back at the clinic, a CT scan confirmed I had a bleed in my right kidney.
They couldn’t deal with it there, so Jacqui contacted my insurance company and an air ambulance was arranged to fly us to Tenerife, two hours away.
There, I had keyhole surgery to remove a benign tumour, but that was far from the end of my troubles.
I needed two blood transfusions, contracted an infection and became anaemic.
The expenses had racked up, what with the air ambulance and the private treatment in Cape Verde.
Meanwhile, AXA, my insurer, had asked for access to my medical records and delivered a hammer blow.
Although I had an annual policy, it didn’t cover the £43,000 bill. The reason?
It was for people with no existing medical conditions who hadn’t been on any prescribed medication – and I hadn’t thought to mention my sleeping pills.
I’d suffered with insomnia on and off for years, but I didn’t take the prescribed pills regularly.
Had I disclosed that on the online form, the website would have directed me to a policy that was a third more expensive – but
AXA said, ‘We sympathise with Miss Thomas, but the policy she purchased is designed for customers without recent medical conditions.’
still only £100. Now, I had to pay the lot!
I couldn’t believe it.
It was an innocent mistake. AXA said as a ‘goodwill gesture’ they would cover 29 per cent of the costs (proportionate to what I’d paid for the cheaper policy), still leaving me with £30,500 to pay.
After two months off work, I’m still recovering, not just from the illness, but from the bill I’ve been landed with.
It’s more than my annual salary.
I’ve no idea how I’m going to pay it.
It’s a cautionary tale to anyone booking insurance online – it’s so easy to click through the pages without reading them properly.
It’s too late for me now, but if you are going away this summer, check with your insurer on the phone first.
Jacqui (left) and me before I fell ill Me in my hospital bed in Tenerife The air ambulance I travelled in PILLS SLEEPING
COST ME £30K!’