As I sat at my computer reading the daily news feed, I came across an article about Caroline Bradner, a young American teacher in Thailand who was struck by Guillain-Barre, a rare disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the nerves. It left the woman paralyzed from the neck down, stranded in a foreign country. The paralysis usually goes away with time and physical therapy but it is a long and scary trek. The article caught my immediate attention because a dear friend of mine had this disease when she was in high school. She had related the challenges of being in a wheel chair at one of the most vibrant times of her life. She was scared…what if she never walked again! She was, however, at home with her family which gave her some solace. But Caroline, in Thailand, must have been in total despair. As I continued reading the article, I discovered that her insurance company had refused to bring her home. They refused to buy her a ticket which would have covered special handling, including a companion or nurse. Just wanting their daughter safe and at home, her family started a GoFundMe page. They raised a substantial amount of money but more important was that the press picked up the story. Otherwise I wouldn’t have known about Caroline’s situation. When I read about the refusal of the insurance company to provide transport, I thought that this scenario sounded all too familiar. So my research began.
HCC, Caroline’s insurance provider, under the pressure of negative publicity finally consented to provide transportation home. I am certain that had it not been for the power of the press, they never would have caved. Just as I had speculated, Caroline’s insurance provider used the same global response center as mine: OnCall International. In fact, her carrier, HCC is the parent company of OnCall. For those of you who don’t know or remember, OnCall is the same response center that left me to die in Tibet. Had it not been for a second policy that I inadvertently had, I would probably not be here today to write this article. I had no GoFundMe page and no press or publicity. I did, however, have a team of individuals working day and night to resolve my dilemma.
I thought that I had put my devastation behind me but when I read this story, I became angry all over again. If this happened to the two of us, how many other victims have there been? Since these are commonly isolated incidents and we are solitary victims, no one has picked up on the widespread effect of the pain, suffering and even death that this one company has most certainly caused. It is a story that needs to be researched. OnCall needs to be brought to task.
The bottom line for those of you looking for travel insurance: DO YOUR RESEARCH. Ask who would answer the calls if you were to have a problem while travelling. If it’s OnCall International, find another carrier unless, of course, you like playing Russian Roulette.