Readers' Submissions

Travel / Accident Insurance

  • Written by Anonymous
  • November 17th, 2010
  • 4 min read


One thing I never see mentioned on your site, and there may be a perfectly good reason for that, is travel/ accident insurance, the need for having it, stories about the consequences of not having it, and recommendations for the companies who offer the best cover and deals. It may be there, and if it is I apologise, but I haven't seen anything about it and that surprises me for a number of reasons.

There was a case recently here in Vietnam where a young Canadian English teacher had a motorbike accident and was not covered, through no fault of his own, by insurance. Turned out his Vietnamese employer had not insured him even though it was written into his contract. His mother went into debt to the tune of $US140,000 to medivac him home. He appeared to be recovering but died unexpectedly soon after.

You may also remember the Kiwi lass who was left languishing in a hospital in Saigon with her family desperately trying to raise funds (about $40,000 from memory) to get her home. She was injured while on the back of a motorcycle taxi. When the drivers insurance ran out, which was very quickly, she was left on her Pat Malone and my understanding was she either didn't have insurance, or her insurance company used a loophole to get out of their obligations.

There are many loopholes that most people are not aware of until they need to claim and the excuses a lot of expats use for not having it!

You may also remember the case of George Dobson, the Aussie who was left to die in an Indian Hospital by the Australian Government because he didn't have, for whatever reason, the appropriate cover.

http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/travel/travel-news/stranded-in-india-paralysed-australian-was-almost-home-20091012-gtp4.html


I don't know about Thailand, but here in Vietnam, International Driving licenses are not recognised even though the RACQ in my home state, Queensland, sell them with Vietnam listed as a country where they're valid. That agreement was apparently signed in the 60s and has been null and void since 1975.

People are coming here, renting motorbikes, having accidents and then finding out that they are not covered because they do not have a valid Vietnamese driving license. (Most countries warn their citizens about this on their travel websites but to no avail.)

I've seen young people have accidents on motorbikes within 50 meters of the rental point, and in a lot of cases they have no bike riding experience whatsoever or a license for riding a bike in their own country, then scream blue murder because their insurance company won't cough up!

The roads here are deadly dangerous and the road toll absolutely incredible with one Commie official in Hanoi lamenting there are more casualties on the roads each year than there ever were during the worst years of the war! All he'd have to do is stand at any set of lights here in Vietnam and the penny would drop in less than 5 minutes! It’s absolute bedlam!

International Grey Nomads sell travel insurance through their site and I'm wondering if you've ever thought about researching the best deals and doing a deal with a company or companies to advertise or even sell travel insurance on your website.

Do a quick survey of all the retired expats you know and see how many actually have it. If my mailing list is any indication, not many! Most using the loopholes as an excuse. And there are many loopholes i.e. Bird flu, epidemic, not covered, swine flu, pandemic, not covered, pre existing conditions, not covered etc… Also ask them if they'd be interested in a policy that has the loopholes fully explained and is a reasonable price – and see their reaction. It’s something I get asked about a lot especially after a reported situation like the Canadian guy or the Kiwi lass. There are also many cases that go unreported.

A retired Canadian guy I know who's married to a Viet and comes here once or twice a year used the cost factor as an excuse for years for not having it, and it was understandable given the fine print / loopholes you have to wade through when considering it. The last time he came over he bought insurance for both he and his wife. First time ever. While here she suffered an embolism / stroke. She was hospitalized, medivaced to Singapore, stabilized, the flown home. There is no doubt that without the insurance she would have died. There's probably a reason why you don't mention it. I'm just curious that's all given its importance..

Stickman's thoughts:

You make many excellent points. I had health insurance once upon a time, but do not have any at present. It's a gamble, I will admit…