Unexpected health problems left Jeff Yates glad he got travel insurance.
Unexpected health problems left Jeff Yates glad he got travel insurance.

Shock as tourist racks up $223,000 bill

IT WAS meant to be a happy time for Jeffrey Yates, who had just embarked on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday with his wife to celebrate their wedding anniversary.

Instead, he ended up racking up the biggest claim his insurance company had seen during 2017, at an eye-watering total of $223,255. So what went wrong?

The 71-year-old from Western Australia said the pair's much-anticipated trip had started off well.

"The trip was a particularly special one as it was our 50th wedding anniversary, so it was

something we'd been looking forward to for quite some time," Mr Yates told news.com.au.

"We started in Dubai, and then went over to Athens. From there, we jumped on a cruise from Athens to Barcelona."

But soon, things took an unexpected turn when he was struck with a series of illnesses while in Italy.

"We were only a week in when my health started to deteriorate," he said. "I contracted legionnaires' disease and pneumonia which led to me discovering that I had emphysema on the trip.

Jeff Yates suffered a series of illnesses while overseas.
Jeff Yates suffered a series of illnesses while overseas.

"The experience was quite scary and my wife and our two friends had to leave the cruise early to assist during my recovery."

He ended up in hospital for more than a month.

"Within three days they'd dropped us off in Naples to see a specialist hospital, which led to 16 days in intensive care. This was followed by an extended stay in hospital.

"All up, I was out of action for 47 days. After all was said and done, the total came to well over $220,000 … It was an extremely difficult situation."

He spent over a month in hospital.
He spent over a month in hospital.

Jeff says his experience shows that travellers should seriously consider protecting themselves while overseas by getting travel insurance, as you never know what could happen.

While the couple always takes out travel insurance, it was more for his wife who has ongoing health issues, and Jeff hadn't anticipated he would also need it.

"It's not something you think about, especially given how quickly those transportation and hospital bills can add up," he said.

"Of course, we were disappointed that such a long-awaited trip had been cut short, but we are grateful that it wasn't worse and that we weren't left out of pocket."

Jeff still has ongoing health issues that he says are constantly being monitored, including breathing issues for which he still requires oxygen.

It can be costly to travel without insurance.
It can be costly to travel without insurance.

MOST EXPENSIVE CLAIMS OF 2017

While Jeff's claim was the biggest received by online travel insurance provider InsureandGo last year, here are the next four priciest claims the company received.

• Spinal injury due to fall - $150,103

A 76-year-old man was admitted to hospital after slipping on steps while holidaying in China, resulting in a spinal injury. The man's wife was flown from Holland to Hong Kong to assist in his five-week hospitalisation before he returned to Australia.

• Multiple illnesses - $144,829

A 75-year-old man was admitted to hospital with multiple illnesses including acute cystitis, pyelonephritis (kidney infection), upper respiratory tract infection, bronchitis, pneumonia, urinary incontinence and a UTI while holidaying in Indonesia, and suffered from further complications as part of his condition. He spent two weeks in hospital.

• Stroke - $114,300

A 91-year-old suffered a stroke while travelling through the Philippines with his wife, resulting in a two-week hospital stay.

• Chest pains - $104,935

A 70-year-old man was admitted to hospital in Chile for chest pains which resulted in a two-week stay in hospital. The fees included the hospital visit and new flights.

He was flown home on a private jet.
He was flown home on a private jet.


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