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Considering Travel Insurance? Okanagan, B.C. Man Loses Kidney In Costa Rica Hospital!

May 31, 2010 by  
Filed under Finance

For all the future travelers that have the opportunity to read this story, I would hope that after you finish this article, you would highly consider Travel Insurance!

As a former travel Agent, when I read sad stories about travelers that have bad medical experiences abroad, it starts to make my stomach turn because I would quickly check all my client files to make sure they have all purchased some form of medical and/or cancellation policies from me prior to their travel.

However, when he awoke in the Costa Rica hospital where he had admitted himself, he quickly found out that his kidney was removed! This young man’s jaw was never fixed and the medical doctor in Costa Rica claimed several of his internal organs were damaged, and out of all the organs that were injured, they had to remove one of his kidneys. Makes you go Hmmm!

Now in my professional opinion, I would classify Costa Rica as a popular destination that I would recommend to many of my past clients to visit for their ecotourism and exotic vacation appeal. The problem is that when we suggest these destinations that are glorified as paradises, we sometimes forget to tell them that these vacation destinations don’t have medical facilities that are comparable to North American standards, and also not all facilities operate in the best faith.

All the facts about this incident are not proven yet, but the truth of the matter is in this incident, having the proper travel medical insurance coverage could have been the difference in this gentleman coming home safely with a fixed jaw and his kidney intact.

How Does Medical Travel Protection Policies Eliminate Situations Like This, You Ask?

Keep this in perspective due to the nature of the incident. The facts are still coming in about this mans occurrence Costa Rican hospital, and I’m not totally certain he did not have travel coverage, but in my professional opinion, if he did have a reputable comprehensive travel medical policy, I truly believe this situation would not have happened.

Here is my explanation that you can apply to having quality medical coverage.

When you visit your travel agent, or decide to book your vacation online, many of the agencies and online companies will offer you an insurance policy that is designed specifically for your travel protection while away from your originating country. Due to a large percentage of your medical costs that may not be covered by the country you live in, travel medical emergency policies are there to protect you from the additional costs that your country will not be covering.

Let’s take this one step further. While you’re away on vacation, the Travel Medical/Cancellation Company you purchased your policy from now has a vested interest in your physical and financial protection. However, they also have a reputation and a financial interest in their company! By saying this, they must make sure that claims that are paid out are legitimate, and are not abused by many of the un-regulated foreign medical facilities that treat patients for emergency situations.

To control these illegal practices, most, if not all, travel insurance providers (including online Insurance companies) establish worldwide relationships with a great number of medical facilities in the tourist areas, and in this relationship, the selected Travel Insurance Company regulates them with very strict rules and guidelines.

This is why it’s important to read the policy terms and conditions, and understand what is required as the policyholders must follow these terms for their own protection under emergency situations. What many conditions state are that the people who get injured due to an unexpected situation, must contact the insurer prior to admitting themselves to a hospital, or a large percentage of their claim may not be paid.

Now I know many of you may be saying that if you were not conscious at the time you were admitted to a hospital, that’s beyond your control, and you’re right! However, upon becoming aware, you must at your earliest opportunity advise the Insurance Company where you are, and if it’s not a regulated hospital on their list, they will make arrangements to remove you to their preferred medical facility.

Why Does A Travel Insurance Company Go To All This Trouble?

This is where we continue from the story about the young man that had his kidney removed. Again, I’m going by my own opinion and no one else, and like I mentioned prior I don’t have all the facts, but in my profession I strongly believe that if this person had coverage with a reputable Travel Insurance Company, he would have more than likely contacted their toll free worldwide number, and talked to professional staff that are trained in the medical field.

He would have been directed to the correct hospital, and when he arrived, upon the instructions of the Insurance staff, he would have passed this information on to the medical staff at the Costa Rican hospital. This does one of two things, it gives the Insurance Company the power to regulate and make sure that only the necessary surgeries are taking place, and because they’re paying the bill, they will ensure that every situation is medically documented for any future liability.

I can’t guarantee that having the medical coverage would have avoided this situation, but I have to say when you eliminate all the risks by working with the Medical Insurance provider, you have a better opportunity in walking out of that foreign hospital with the peace-of-mind that you’re not going back home without all your valuable functioning organs.

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