Broken leg a snap lesson in importance of travel insurance

A scene eerily like the one I witnessed when my sister broke her leg on a Wellington track during her holiday in this ...
WARREN GOLDSWAIN/123RF

A scene eerily like the one I witnessed when my sister broke her leg on a Wellington track during her holiday in this country.

OPINION: The sound of my sister's New Zealand holiday going horribly wrong was the snap she heard when her Fibula bone fractured.

I was up on a steep track with her, her husband, and a gaggle of happy daughters and nieces in Wellington's Zealandia, a Heaven-like haven for native birds surrounded by a predator-proof fence to keep the rats, cats and other nasties out.

One slip, and the holiday, and her flight home to London, suddenly looked very different.

Once the Zealandia rangers (including a former casualty nurse) and the ambulance people made it to her, and got her down on the back of a quad bike, and off to Wellington hospital, minds began turning to managing the situation.

READ MORE: Air ambulances are 'International Rescue' for Kiwi travellers

Thank Heaven for our reciprocal emergency healthcare agreement with the UK, and thank Heaven my sister was sensible enough to have travel insurance.

For the first time in my life all the theory of travel insurance became real.

Sure, I'd read about people being run over in Mexico and having to be air-lifted to the states for treatment, and then repatriated, so I grasped the need for an insurer to be there to pick up medical and air ambulance bills in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. But I'd never been close to the action.

My sister and her family were booked to go home economy class less than a week after the accident. And when she got back to the house we had rented just behind Wellington's Empire Cinema, it became clear she wasn't going to be able to fly economy.

Broken legs just do not bend the way non-broken ones do.

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My sister works in insurance, so a quick pow-wow over tea nutted out the only viable strategy. The travel insurer was going to have to pay for an upgrade to business class, and if that was full, first class.

As it turned out, the insurer didn't have to be pushed on that, and as business class was full, it had to be first class.

There were other things needed. A wheelchair and crutches were hired so we could continue to do the things in Wellington we hadn't done yet. Incidentally, those crutches became the chosen toy of the gaggle of kids, who all became quite proficient on them in their imagination games.

There was also the issue of my sister getting home from Heathrow.

As well as being there to pick up the additional costs thrown up by the broken leg, there was something really comforting about her having an insurer, and its global assistance network, there to make things happen while my sister and her husband got on with making sure she was okay.

A broken leg is hard enough to cope with when you are away from, but imagine how invaluable that assistance is if the bone broken was in the spine, or the break had been so severe it punctured the skin.

GOLDEN RULES

When travelling overseas, always go insured

Travel insurance is "catastrophe" cover

A small slip can prove costly without cover

 - Stuff.co.nz

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