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Death in Bali shows what governments won’t do

September 13, 2018 Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

The death of a mother of two in a Bali hospital while on holiday, after thousands of people had contributed to a fund to have her medically evacuated back home, underscores what governments won’t do for travellers and why travel insurance is vital – but not infallible.

New Zealand mum Abby Hartley spent more than a month in a coma and needed NZD 160,000 (AUD 146,000) to be flown back to New Zealand from Bali. See: Mother stuck in Bali in a coma can’t get home

Hartley fell ill last month while taking a second honeymoon in Bali with her husband. After being admitted to hospital, doctors found emergency surgery was necessary due to bowel-related issues. The operation was successful but a number of secondary problems arose afterwards, including infections, respiratory issues and kidney failure. Hartley was placed in a medically induced coma on 15 August.

Although Hartley did have insurance, her insurance company declined to pay the bill, telling her family her illness related to a pre-existing condition.

According to a report in Insurance Business, Hartley had purchased Cover-More travel insurance through Air New Zealand, but it seems she did not disclose a pre-existing bowel condition.

“This appears to have been the prime impetus for denying her claim,” the publication stated.

Explaining her case on a Givealittle page (“crowdfunding for New Zealanders”) Hartley’s family stated: “After a very long and stressful battle with the insurance company they have made the final decision to not cover any medical costs therefore we have been left with a very expensive medical bill.”

The crowdfunding effort raised an impressive amount: NZD 237,602 (AUD 218,000, donated by 4361 people). So the money was there, easily beating the target, but Hartley’s condition did not improve and a medical evacuation was not attempted.

Despite being asked earlier, the New Zealand Government declined to bring Abby Hartley home. The New Zealand Government is just as sympathetic in such cases as the Australian Government (some would say more so) but governments won’t foot the bill, confining themselves to providing consular assistance and similar.

It’s a good point for travel agents to remind their clients.

Abby Hartley in a Bali hospital with her husband and children last month

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern yesterday offered her condolences to the Hartley family.

“I learned yesterday, late afternoon, of Abby’s passing. There’s no doubt that this obviously is gutting and including for all the New Zealanders who reached out to support the family,” Ardern said on Radio NZ.

“The money was raised to bring her home and it is incredibly sad that that opportunity just didn’t eventuate.”

Ardern said the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFAT, New Zealand’s equivalent of Australia’s DFAT) had assisted in over 200 cases “where medical issues arise”.

“That support just doesn’t extend to bringing them home and hasn’t done, and nor do really any of our international counterparts either,” she confirmed.

Hartley’s husband had written to the New Zealand Government for help to bring his wife home, but Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said it wasn’t possible.

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. bruce weston says:

    travel insurance – DONT LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT — but you must declare any pre-existing as they can check in a few seconds apparently .There also appears to be an age covenant – as I am over 75 i find it really difficult to get any worthwhile coverage

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