Kiwi traveller counts high cost of his misadventure

TRACEY CHATTERTON AND NICOLE PRYOR
Last updated 05:00 21/10/2012
Sean Kenzie with partner Amy Myles and their dog Richie at home in Napier.
JOHN COWPLAND/Fairfax NZ

RECOVERING: Sean Kenzie with partner Amy Myles and their dog Richie at home in Napier.

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The scar down Sean Kenzie's neck is a reminder of how his life changed forever when a taxi knocked him off his scooter in Thailand.

The scooter's handlebars broke his jaw in 26 places, and crushed his teeth. He smashed his knee, ruptured a kidney and punctured his lungs - which later collapsed.

More than three months later his roofing job and savings are gone, just like the lifestyle he once enjoyed in Perth.

He has moved home, applied for a benefit, and spends a lot of time at doctor's appointments. "It's not where I would have seen myself at 27. I've spent the last 12 years trying not to be like that," he said.

"It's taken my life, being able to work, having the money that my job used to bring in. I'm living on the bones of my ass."

He and girlfriend Amy Myles have moved to Napier to live with his mother while he recovers from injuries that still cause a lot of pain in his jaw. He needs a knee reconstruction, more jaw surgery, and dental work to repair his smashed teeth.

"I'll have to get a job if I want my body fixed."

But recovery takes time. For now, he must make do with daytime television and walking the dog on the beach, which is more than he got to do in Thailand.

"I went there for palm trees, pina coladas and beaches, and saw none of it."

Instead, after the accident, Bangkok Hospital refused Kenzie full treatment because his travel insurance did not cover injuries suffered in scooter crashes.

Under guard because he could not pay his $20,000 bill, Kenzie was transferred to a rundown public hospital and a ward with 50 others.

Kenzie said it was hell being in a "grotty", rat-infested ward, but financial support from friends, family and strangers got him out and on a flight to Auckland.

The generosity of strangers has helped him pay off most of his $28,000 medical bill, and the $54,000 fee to fly home with a medical team.

Between the medical costs, flights and extra time spent in Thailand, he estimates the ordeal has cost almost $80,000.

Kenzie says he asked for full insurance and was later told his bills would have been met if he'd paid a $30 scooter cover premium.

"Thirty bucks, man."

A spokeswoman for insurers Cover-More said Kenzie did not select additional cover for motorcycles and mopeds.

Maureen Mullins said the policy highlighted that motorcycle and moped riding were specifically excluded.

She said all staff went through a "rigorous" training and testing process on a quarterly basis to ensure they accurately explained travel insurance to customers.

FIND OUT EXACTLY WHAT YOUR POLICY COVERS

Always check your policy, Insurance Council spokesman Chris Ryan says. He said the company issuing the policy should advise a customer about what was, and wasn't, covered. "An insurance person should give advice about policy gaps, but people also need to take care of themselves, and ask. When you get insurance, you should find out exactly what's covered." A basic package would include all the "normal" things you might expect to go wrong, but not things with a heightened risk like riding a scooter without a licence on congested roads, he said. And Evans said even those going to Australia should look for gaps, because people had suffered serious injuries there and been stranded because of a lack of cover.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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