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Hospital Bills

Travel Forums General Talk Hospital Bills

1. Posted by senoj (Budding Member 4 posts) 5y

Help,

Whilst in Canada on a GAP year - I realised that my travel insurance had run out - I hastily took out a policy with GO Travel Backpackers to cover myself. I unfortunately had a fall whilst hiking and ended up in hospital with fractures to vertebrae and foot. When somebody contacted my insurers whilst I was in hospital they were assured that all my bills would be covered, I also had a call from AXA insurance assuring me that I need not worry. I could have discharged myself after 1 day but with nowhere to go other than to friends I had made I stayed in hospital for six days until I received a call telling me that my insurance was invalid as I should have been in the UK at the time of taking out the policy.

I am safely back in the UK now - I can see that had I read all of the conditions and terms that on page 20 of a 27 page tightly spaced pdf there is a sentence to this affect. I have appealed to the insurers to no avail and am pursuing this through the Ombudsman but fear that the outcome will be negative.

I have now received a bill for $20,000 (£17,000) from the hospital. I am an unemployed graduate with student loans hanging over me and I have no way of repaying. I have spoken to the hospital authorities who will put this in the hands of a third party - who I fear might pursue me to the ends of the earth. I don't know where to go for advice. If I don't pay could I be arrested? Is the worst thing that could happen isI could never go back to Canada?

Has any body got any advice they can give me I am getting very anxious about my future.

2. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4808 posts) 5y

Did you still have regular UK health insurance while travelling? If so, it'd be worthwhile to see how much they cover for overseas hospital visits. (I know nothing about UK health insurance, but I do know that Dutch health insurance covers up to twice the cost of an equivalent visit to a Dutch hospital, so maybe...)

I don't really have any advice beyond that. :/ I did know that you can't take out travel insurance while abroad, and that this is standard, so I guess your chances for that appeal aren't too good. Although a quick look at the insurer's website doesn't show that restriction made obvious anywhere, so maybe it could be successfully argued that you couldn't have known, and that in combination with the communication from your insurer at least the costs beyond the first day shouldn't be yours to bear.

Good luck with this! Let us know how it all turns out.

3. Posted by Peter (Admin 5789 posts) 5y

Geez, that is harsh. Particularly considering they confirmed verbally that all was ok. If you have any way of verifying that, then I would argue strongly that you made decisions based on those calls.

Incidentally, while it is true that with *most* insurance policies you have to take them out before you leave, there are some where you don't. The main one I know of is World Nomads. One reason why it is so popular.

If you have a credit card, check whether they might have some coverage included.

Hope you have some luck chasing this up!

4. Posted by Peter (Admin 5789 posts) 5y

Oh, an extra point; assuming you purchased this insurance online - it would be easy to argue that the insurance company should not have taken your money if they weren't going to cover you.

They could have easily done a check on your IP address to recognise that you weren't in the UK. The very least they could have done in that case was provide a proper warning. Or really, they should have just asked in their form where you were if this was such a big deal.

Giving someone the confidence of insurance without actually being insured is quite unethical behaviour in my opinion.

5. Posted by senoj (Budding Member 4 posts) 5y

Thanks for the advice -I had not thought of the IP address angle and will pursue this one also - I paid with a visa debit card so there maybe an angle there too.

6. Posted by senoj (Budding Member 4 posts) 5y

Still making no progress on this - I have had my appeals to insurers rejected - I am worried that if I don't pay up that the third party debt recovery agency could have the ballifs at my parents doorstep - I am getting a little desperate to find advice -

7. Posted by mojorob (Moderator 1047 posts) 5y

Quoting senoj

I am worried that if I don't pay up that the third party debt recovery agency could have the ballifs at my parents doorstep

Would be a little surprised if that happened from an overseas debt recovery agency, however remember that bailiffs can only enter a property if they have a warrant (and it needs to be checked that they do first time they visit) - and they can also only take property owned by the debtor, no one else including your parent's things which would likely be most things in and around the house.

8. Posted by bex76 (Moderator 3713 posts) 5y

Quoting mojorob

Quoting senoj

I am worried that if I don't pay up that the third party debt recovery agency could have the ballifs at my parents doorstep

Would be a little surprised if that happened from an overseas debt recovery agency

I agree - the cost of doing that overeas would probably not make it worth their while. Have you spoken to a lawyer? It might be worth getting them to check over the smallprint in the contract - as Peter said, they really should have checked where you were before taking the money and agreeing to insure you.