With­out in­sur­ance, a hol­i­day in­jury can sting your wal­let too...

Real People - - COVER STORY - Juliet Thomas, 50, Sy­ch­dyn, Flintshire

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!’

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