Listen now (19 mins) | In this episode: A whirlwind tour of the Swiss Alps, Madrid and Barcelona — and a terrible accident (Recorded 12/16/22 in Barcelona)
I wasn’t hurt bad but in 1973 I was on a train from Paris to Amsterdam. I was standing in the hallway of my train-car looking out at all the tracks in Antwerp, when suddenly the next thing I knew I was slammed to the floor. While I heard screeching I also realized the train car was starting to tip over. I’m praying at this point that the car doesn’t go all the way over. Finally it came to a stop. When I got up I saw smoke and smelled diesel fuel coming from the dining car on fire in front of our car and saw that the first 4 cabins or so were somewhat crushed with broken windows and people screaming trying to get out. My hand was cut trying to help people get out. To make a long story short we hit an engine crossing perpendicular to us and went right into it. The engineer was killed on impact. At least 14 people were hurt. We crossed the tracks to wait at a bar while we waited to hear what we would do next. Finally we were put on a bus to another train that got into Amsterdam about 1 or so in the morning. We found the “Kabul” hostel in the Red Light District open where we stayed and recuperated for the next week. What happens in Amsterdam stays in Amsterdam.
At twilight we were visiting a castle across the river from Avignon France when I was told to back up to have my picture taken & promptly fell over the wall. It was at least an eighty feet drop to the ground, but luckily I got caught in the branches of a tree sticking out of the wall about 8 feet down. My husband climbed down to rescue me, & the only thing that happened was that a twig had gone up my nose & blood gushed out all over my clothes when I got up so that I had to go back to the hotel to change (and we were only 10 min. late for our dinner reservations!)
My accident happened in Tomali Ghana. After dinner my daughter, husband & I were walking back to our hotel along a busy street. We were facing oncoming traffic when one car seemed to be heading toward me. I took a small step to the left, fell into a drainage ditch landing in my knee. The driver stopped & several people helped pull me to the surface. We were able to buy a bottle of hydrogen peroxide so I carefully cleaned the knee. By morning it was obvious I needed medical aid & went to a hospital where the wound was cleaned & bandaged. They discharged me with a supply of ointments & bandages. This was our 2nd day of a 3 week trip. The wound didn’t heal & by the time we reached Accra I needed to see another doctor for infection. I can’t remember what I paid for the hospital & doctor. When I returned to USA I saw an orthopedist to make sure the infection was cleared. I do remember his fee was more than 3 times what I paid in Ghana. I submitted all my expenses to my insurance & was reimbursed for 80% of the charges. BTW we continued our trip even though I was heavily bandaged & unable to bend my knee.
I fell while hiking in New Hampshire, 3000 miles from home, in June 2021. I broke my left wrist rather badly. Once I recovered enough to stand up, a good Samaritan family helped my husband help me navigate the roughly 3 miles back to the car. We went to an urgent care facility and were directed to an ER in Littleton, NH. After a fairly long wait, I was ushered back to a small but remarkably well run emergency room, where a very competent Emergency Medicine practitioner sedated me and pushed the broken wrist back into an alignment that would allow him to put me into a temporary soft cast. I flew back across the country in that contraption, then proceeded to see a hand surgeon, have surgery and later, months of hand surgery. Thankfully I have made a near complete recovery.
Since I was in the US, Medicare and my supplement covered all but $50 of the ER charges. However, the billing department at the NH hospital kept billing me as an uninsured patient even though I provided them with my insurance information twice. It took the threat of a formal complaint to the NH State attorney general and insurance commissioner for them to bill properly. Once again, the healthcare profit dragon tried to rear its ugly head.
I have mobility problems and I rented a mobility scooter when I was in Barcelona. It was delivered to my hotel before I arrived, and I was so glad I had it. Barcelona is one of the easiest cities to get around in with a mobility device. All the public transportation (bus, metro, etc) could accommodate the scooter. The curbs at intersections all slope down to the street, and every museum but one was fully accessible. No problem in restaurants or theaters (I went three times). I was worried about not getting enough exercise using the scooter, but the scooter made my trip in Barcelona absolutely amazing. and pleasurable. I recommend this highly for anyone who is mobility challenged.
Got hit full on by a guy on a bicycle in San Francisco. Concussion.
Changing planes in Phoenix - going down the ramp to the next plane, I questioned the speed at which my wheelchair was being pushed, ramp steepness and why I was not turned around to go down backwards. Person pushing chair said this was the way it was done. Just at bottom of ramp, there was a raised area and when the chair hit that, I was dumped out face first onto the ramp. Split lip and nosebleed with lots of bruising. Southwest staff were very helpful getting me up, into a plane seat and ice pack to face. We did not leave gate until bleeding had stopped. I elected not to go to hospital as this was last flight of day, I was scheduled to be a presenter 8 am next day and the hospital in arrival city was just across street from my hotel. All ended ok even if I did look a mess for the next 3 weeks
My accident happened in Stockholm during a rain storm, hurrying on a cobblestone street.
I took a face plant, and had to endure a humiliating flight home looking like I went a round
with Mike Tyson. My poor husband sat there, feeling like everyone thought he was a
wife beater. Injuries were to our egos.
While vacationing in Fl with my family, parents from CT, sister and her family my father became ill. We rushed him to the hospital in Celebration where he died the next day. The docs were unfamiliar with his medical history. My parents were already booked for their 28th cruise in 2 months. Thank goodness they had insurance with their funeral home that if they passed away more than 50 miles from home all arrangements would be handled by the funeral home. We were in no condition to handle the legal paperwork to get my dad back to CT. Get insurance!
While I was in Alaska, my Tonkinese cat died unexpectedly from autoimmune immediated hemolytic anemia. When I flew to California my orange tabby cat suffered heart failure (I cut the trip short and made it home with only hours to spare). While in Ecuador, another cat got pancreatitis so bad that the vet took her home to nurse her. I have no children, my kitties are my babies. I would really like to find out if there are any travel insurance policies that covers trip interruption if something happens to a pet.
My only travel accident happened in Vienna, Austria. I tripped over some cobblestones and broke both bones in my forearm near the elbow. I was in the middle of a river cruise. The cruise people (Viking) were wonderful, packing me up because I was admitted to the hospital for emergency surgery. Our travel agent helped my husband with hotel and travel arrangements and we notified our travel insurer. After 4 days in hospital we were able to fly home. But not before we paid the $6,000 hospital bill with a credit card. Our travel insurer paid every dime of every receipt we submitted. Our healthcare insurer required multiple contacts including emails to the Board of Directors, using the Chris Elliott method, before they reimbursed the hospital bill.
In 2011 my cousin sent me a ticket to come to Germany to visit him. I had taken the trash to the garbage chute and, since you take off shoes in Germany, was in sox, not shoes. I either missed or slipped on the last step and landed on the marble landing with every "delicate ounce" on my right arm/shoulder. By the time my cousin for to his door, I was on my stomach wiggling fingers etc. to see if I broke anything. HE was freaking out! I did not have medical insurance, he was retired Army. Never considered going to get checked out. Never did. Have no idea what I did, but it IS permanent. I just learned to adjust to it and suck it up. As I age it hurts more but it tells me I am still alive.
No major accident, but a minor one We were in Tokyo and my wife got a contact lens stuck in her eye. We called our travel insurance concierge number and said we needed an English speaking opthalmologist open on a Saturday. They gave us three names and we went to the one most easily reached by subway. The reception person did not speak English, but she figured out we needed help. The doctor saw us within about 15 minutes and extracted the contact. The bill was about $45, cash required. Prescription for eye drops was about $15. The hardest part of the whole process was getting reimbursed by the insurance company which took several months and multiple calls and emails.
Contrast that with an emergency room visit I had for a kidney stone while traveling in California earlier this year. My insurance has travel coverage and federal law limited my out of pocket for and emergency room to $90. The insurance company paid everything but the $90 and a bogus $175 charge on the bill. A phone call to the hospital got the charge removed. The hospital properly diagnosed my problem, gave me prescriptions and a copy of my CT scan and said I needed to see a urologist. I had to wait several days until I got home as I couldn't get a referral to one in California. I saw one the day after I got home and the stone was blasted with a laser the next day.
We always get travel insurance when we're leaving the country. We want the medical coverage, medical evacuation coverage, concierge coverage and the delay coverage. Except for the evacuation coverage, we could self insure for other costs with our regular insurance emergency coverage.
We have annual evacuation coverage through Dan Boater (https://danboater.org/) which costs us $25/year in addition to our boating club (https://americasboatingclub.org/join) membership. We considered using the coverage when we were in California, but ended up driving home instead. Next time we travel overseas, I'll have to decide whether we're willing to self-insure for other things that travel insurance would cover.
Fell in Puerto Vallarta split my knee open, and at the time I did not have insurance, but got smarter after that.
In 1981, I was embarking on a partially solo backpacking trip through Europe. As a 20 year old college student, I was invincible. My 1st stop was in Spain to visit a family who was on a short term (3yr) work program for General Motors. I had been their babysitter for years. I had only been there about 6 hours. Then the intense pain started in my abdomen. I told no one for hours, thinking it was back pain from my backpack. Next thought was appendicitis, but wrong side. Finally I told my host who is a RN. Still no relief. Off to the hospital for what was thought to be a ruptured ovarian cyst. Prepped for surgery, wearing only the polo shirt I came in with, I rolled off to surgery. (I could hear my mother’s rosary beads clacking across the Atlantic.). Then, the pain completely stopped! Yelling in Spanish, “STOP! STOP!” It was determined to be a kidney stone that I apparently passed.
As a student, I had purchased an insurance policy for minimal cost. The hospital charged me less than $20 for the entire experience. It was a truly memorable experience.
In 2014, my husband, Art, and I were on the first day of a tour of Myanmar when I missed a small step in a museum restroom and fell. My legs buckled underneath me. The museum staff found a wheelchair and got me up and our tour director decided to take us back to the hotel. The hotel physician did a cursory exam and sent us off to a hospital. X-rays were taken and they showed a tibia plateau fracture. We called our trip insurance company and they immediately took charge and arranged for us to be flown by a medically equipped small jet to Bangkok Hospital. After having x-rays, an MRI and a complete blood panel, the orthopedic surgeon gave me a choice of flying back to the states for surgery or having him do the surgery. He said it would take 5 days to arrange a flight home, so I decided to have the Ortho doc proceed with the surgery. This was a very good decision. Bangkok Hospital is a top tier hospital and rivals Western hospitals in trained doctors, nurses, techs, and diagnostic equipment. I was in the hospital for 6 days before I was cleared to travel home. My trip insurance company arranged for a flight nurse to accompany me all the way from Bangkok to Kaiser Permanente hospital in Sacramento, CA. When I saw my regular orthopedic doctor and he examined the x-rays, he said the Thai doctor did an excellent job and he would have done the same. Kaiser reimbursed us for every cent of my medical bills, which amounted to about $30,000, which we had to pay out-of-pocket. The trip insurance covered all repatriation expenses and medical evacuation (from Myanmar). Trip Insurance would have also covered anything that Kaiser did not cover, if we had needed it. I was blessed to receive loving care and support from Art, the Mayanmar medical staff and the great staff at the Bangkok Hospital. After arriving home, I spent 2 weeks in rehab and then finally arrived home. PLEASE: buy trip insurance when you travel. Peace of mind is everything.