The InsureandGo insurer promises 24-hour help for holidaymakers in distress. But Joe Greensmith he couldn’t get urgent care
If you need a medical emergency on holiday, so what happens? Similarly to travel insurers, InsureandGo promises a “24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week” helpline for distressed holidaymakers. But when Joe Greensmith was ill in Vietnam, his medical drama turned into a crisis after he affirmes InsureandGo virtually abandoned him as he had to struggle to find urgent assistance in a local hospital.
When Greensmith rang to the insurer’s emergency helpline from Vietnam. It was 9am but it being 3am in Ireland where the call centre was, and he could not be dealt with until the day shift arrived later in the morning.
Then InsureandGo arranged for Greensmith to go into hospital in Hanoi, and he was suffering from gallstone complications. He says “When I arrived, nobody knew anything about me. I phoned the insurance company to be told, again, that I had to wait for the day shift. By 11am I was seen by a doctor who told me I was not urinating blood but bile, and that I had a life-threatening condition requiring urgent treatment. By this time, my skin and eyes had turned yellow.”
And the worse thing came. InsureandGo authorised an MRI scan, but stunned the by now seriously ill patient by telling him it would refuse to pay for the hospital treatment because his problems stemmed from a pre-existing condition. With no choice, Greensmith was forced to borrow £3,000 from a friend to fund his remaining treatment.
Now, InsureandGo accepts that it should not refuse Greensmith’s claim, and has refunded the £3,000 to Greensmith.
Greensmith is a boat builder from Lowestoft in Suffolk, he had bought the annual travel policy by Travelex bureau just before flying. He was handed a credit-sized card and leaflet, and when he aked to activate the policy as instructed, he told the company that he was receiving treatment for gallstones, and that was the end of the conversation.
When he back in the UK, Greensmith was told that the condition he’d had can kill him within two hours. Furious at InsureandGo’s stance, and its failure to offer immediate assistance, he contacted the company to complain.
He says that “When I did so, the customer relations manager told me that the company doesn’t need a 24-hour medical team because ‘all the hospitals in the world have to treat emergency cases because of ethics. To me, this is nonsense because they are confusing western values with a third world communist country. In Vietnam it is a case of no payment, no treatment.”
A spokeswoman for InsureandGo told that: “When we listened to the call Mr Greensmith made to activate his card, we found that there had indeed been a failure on our part. We should have made it clear that his medical conditions were not covered and explained just what it meant should he fall ill with a pre-existing condition whilst he was away. We should have also offered him the opportunity to either include his conditions at an additional premium, or get a refund for his policy. We are genuinely sorry for this failure, which comes down to human error. We will be paying Mr Greensmith’s medical bill in full and are reviewing the training of our staff.”
But InsureandGo rejects the Greensmith’s accusations about the helpline. It says “We also listened to the calls made to our 24-hour medical assistance helpline. Whilst we were are really sorry that Mr Greensmith has had a bad experience, we are satisfied that the service our medical assistance team gave was of a high standard. All our staff are used to dealing with time differences and medical centres around the world; it is what they are trained to do. We understand that there was a problem with an appointment made for Mr Greensmith at a hospital. We have thoroughly investigated this and found that we were not at fault on this occasion. Nevertheless, we are sorry for the miserable time Mr Greensmith has had.”