06 Apr Are you really PREPARED?
ARE YOU READY FOR THE UNEXPECTED?
I travel frequently and I believe travel preparation and travel health insurance is as important as your identification when you travel. Planning for a trip should always include a list of must haves in case of a unexpected accident. I recently traveled to Cancun, at the same time as my friend and her son. No one expected that Leanne and her son would be in a hospital by night fall. I have asked Leanne to share her story of what happened. Hearing a personal story validates that being prepared when faced with a medical emergency will help everyone involved.
Spoiler alert.. all turns out well for her son.. however financially for mom it may not have!
With permission, here is Leanne and her son Dryden’s story and what they went through eight hours after arriving in Cancun. “My eighteen year old son, Dryden was found in the hotel room in a cold sweat and in severe pain. After realizing he was not suffering from the flu or poolside drinks, I immediately contacted the hotel doctor at the resort. The doctor assessed Dryden and suggested a shot to help with pain and fever and advised that we should leave for the hospital. The doctor enquired about insurance in order to determine which hospital would be best. He told us that we would be sent to a private Cancun hospital which dealt with tourists.
I was given a choice to take a cab or use the paramedics, I chose paramedics as there would be someone medically trained to assist us. Before we could leave the resort I was required to pay the resort doctors fee of $7100 MXN//CAD488.00. ( I paid this out of my own pocket.)
The doctor contacted the hospital and paramedics and gave them a status report. Prior to the ambulance arriving I contacted the insurance company to advise that we were having a medical emergency. The insurance company asked for our policy number and told me to contact them once we were at the hospital. The resort staff assisted us with a wheelchair to bring Dryden to the paramedics. Before we left the paramedics needed to verify and record our passports. A half hour later we arrived at emergency, thankfully the hospital staff were waiting for us.
Intake was very helpful. While I was attending to paperwork I was required to pay for the paramedic ride which cost $90.00 USD. The hospital also informed me that they required $3000.00USD deposit until the insurance company contacted them about the policy. I contacted the insurance company and they said that was normal for them to ask for a deposit.
Before I gave the hospital my credit card for the deposit, I contacted the credit card company by telephone. I explained what was happening so they knew not to decline the large amount coming. ( the wifi was not working at hospital at this time)
An assessment of Dryden took place by the emergency consultants. A CT scan was required, once Dryden had finished the CT scan it was determined he would be officially admitted to the hospital. (Dryden’s hospital room looked like a beautiful hotel room.) We were now waiting for the gastrointestinal doctor to advise what the scans showed and what would happen next.
The insurance company had faxed over the forms that needed to be filled out. Once in the hospital room I dealt with the paperwork and the intake nurse came to collect the forms and sent them back to the insurance company to open our claim ASAP.
The doctor reviewed the scans and advised me that this was appendicitis and that surgery was required. We were shocked and I was very scared about everything. There was no way around this… My son was panicked and I did my best to hide my fear. I agreed to the surgery. I was very worried as all the paperwork I had to sign was in Spanish. Another doctor who was attending reassured me that they do this procedure all the time and explained two processes. He advised us of the first method which would be laparoscopic appendectomy. If that didn’t work they would do an open appendectomy. I still didn’t have a wifi connection so I couldn’t look anything up!
The anesthesiologist came to speak with us and he was kind, confident and very reassuring. Dryden was taken into surgery at 7:30 am. We were given an up update about 8:45 that all went well and they were able to do laparoscopic procedure. My son was back in the room by 9:30 am and after speaking with nurses and seeing that Dryden was needing to sleep, I felt comfortable enough to leave the hospital to return to resort to eat and sleep. I’m glad I had cash for the taxi back to the resort. Before I left I was asked to see the public relations department. I was told the insurance company had not yet authorized the medical stay, however I was advised that was not unusual.I returned by taxi back to the hospital and spent the night. Finally we had working wifi!The day after surgery, Dryden was checked over by the attending physician. I was told the insurance company had accepted the claim! More papers were required to be signed. We were discharged at 11:00 am. Dryden was given a prescription and we had to take a taxi to the pharmacy. The pharmacy was easy to deal with however they only spoke Spanish. I wasn’t able to ask about the details on the medications. I googled the information about the meds once we were back at the resort. Did I say how happy we were to be back at the resort!
Dryden was given a medical note and cleared to travel home. We had one day to recuperate at the hotel and then we were on our way home.. My son slept all the way. We were definitely glad to be home. I took Dryden to his family doctor who examined him and told us everything looked fine.
To date my medical bills have reached 26,000.00USD and are all looked after by the insurance company. I am so incredibly thankful that I purchased travel health insurance! “
I am so very glad Leanne’s story turned out so well. Dryden received very good care in Mexico and the insurance company continues to be helpful.
We never want to think about illness or an accident on a holiday, however it is always wise to be prepared for the unexpected.
Here is a list of helpful preparation tips prepared from Leanne’s experience and a few extras.
– Bring provincial health card
– Bring drivers licence
– Write down the insurance policy number and their emergency phone number (give a family member back home this information as well)
– Bring a copy or original insurance policy
– Take backup pictures of documents on phone camera
– Bring $$$ cash $$$ -small bills for food/cabs etc
– Have a credit card with good limit for unforeseeable expenses
– Bring phone/tablet/charger
– Have information for hospital readily available
– Remember to write down phone numbers of your hotel and airline as well as friends or family members. This will help if your cell phone does not work or you have no wifi!
– Find out that country’s equivalent to 911# in case of emergency.
– Some insurance providers require you to buy insurance a certain amount of time in advance, this could be 24hours prior or after a deposit is requested. Always consult your travel agent or insurance adjuster for the deadline.
– Did you know some insurance companies do not cover you if you participate in extreme, high risk sports eg: scuba diving, sky diving or driving motorcycles.
– If the Canadian government issued a travel warning for your holiday destination, your insurance policy may not be valid.
– A reminder to print out your policy information and your travel insurance policy number and emergency phone number. –
– Most insurance companies want you to contact them before seeking treatment in another country.
– In case of an illness at your destination that required a hospital stay, check with your airline to see if they need specific information from you in order to fly home or change your travel dates. Some airlines require their medical desk be contacted so that they may contact the hospital to get the official confirmation that you are cleared for air travel. *Never assume a doctors letter is enough to travel back with you, check with your airline
– Read your insurance policy carefully ...before… you travel!
Please talk to a qualified travel insurance agent or travel agent for your specific travel needs. Happy Holidays and kudos to you for reading this blog and wanting to be prepared!