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Lack of Travel Insurance Leaves Sick Father Stranded

December 15th, 2015  |  Travel

One Manitoba family has a lot more than gift wrapping and holiday baking on their minds this Christmas. Instead, they have to worry about a sick father stranded in a foreign country and the $100k needed to bring him home. In the absence of a travel medical insurance plan, they’re scrambling to raise enough funds to fly their ill father home from South America.

Neil Nickel, a 68 year-old truck driver from Niverville, Manitoba, travelled to Bolivia in November. According to CBC News, he suffered a ruptured intestine and a stroke while away. Doctors say scar tissue from a decades-old surgery caused his intestine to tear. Nickel is now stable and can fly home. But there’s one more thing delaying his return: the $86,800 cost of an air ambulance, plus the $25,000 needed to pay his hospital and medical bills.

Because Nickel didn’t take a travel insurance policy before he left Canada, he needs to come up with $100,000 on his own to cover these costs. His wife already dipped into their retirement fund. Now his family is hoping a GoFundMe page will help them pay the remainder of his bills.

His daughter, Tracy Man, claims that he was unable to secure an insurance policy because of his problematic medical history. She speculates that travel insurance wouldn’t have covered Nickel’s costs anyway: the ruptured intestine was caused by an undiagnosed pre-existing condition.

Many travel insurance providers will offer a policy to Canadians with pre-existing conditions, diagnosed or undiagnosed, as long as the candidate’s health remains stable for a specified amount of time. If the traveller’s condition changes, as it did in Nickel’s case, insurers may deny claims.

If you’ve had medical problems in the past, it’s critical that you speak with your doctor before planning a trip. Sudden illness or injury can quickly ruin an out-of-country visit and leave you with burdensome bills. However, an insurance company may be able to tailor a travel policy to your unique needs and help protect you while you're away.

Image Courtesy of Adobe Stock