Canadian woman faces bankruptcy due to US hospitalization fees

Travel insurers warn that vacationers should always secure coverage

Canadian woman faces bankruptcy due to US hospitalization fees

Insurance News

By Lyle Adriano

A Sudbury, ON woman’s vacation in the US turned into a nightmare after a harrowing experience not only left her injured, but also financially incapacitated.

Sixty-five-year-old Sandra Cartledge was spending her Halloween last year in Las Vegas, when tragedy struck. On the day she was set to leave, she was mugged and robbed of everything she owned, including her passport and other identification details.

Cartledge was also injured during the violent incident, and had to be hospitalized.

When she was released, she approached the Canadian Consulate in Los Angeles to get a temporary passport to travel home, but she was notified that it would take five days until it was ready. Already strapped for cash, Cartledge decided to head to San Francisco for cheaper hotel prices.

She later had to visit the hospital two more times after falling; one drop left her in a coma that lasted several days.

"So, at the end of the week, I’m thinking ‘I don’t know at what point my insurance, which I’ll have to figure out when I get home, tops out at.’ All insurance tops at something,” Cartledge told CTV News.

Cartledge was later notified that the first hospital she approached following the robbery will be covered, but she will have to pay out of pocket for the other two visits – because they fell outside her original travel window.

CTV News reported that Cartledge is on the hook for $100,000 in medical expenses.

She has mentioned that due to the steep costs, she is considering declaring personal bankruptcy.

Cartledge’s travel insurance provider – Allianz Global Assistance Canada – had issued a statement on her case and how it is handling it.

"We continue to review this file with our customer to identify the expenses that can be covered within the period for which the travel coverage was purchased. We advise all travellers to review the terms and conditions of their policy and, in the event they require medical treatment, travellers should contact their insurance provider as soon as possible,” Allianz said.

The Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) has commented that Cartledge’s case is a rare incident among travellers, but warned that Canadian vacationers should be wary that negative experiences in the US can still happen.

"Travel insurance can save you from bankruptcy,” said Jayme Schuler, manager of Travel Services Call Centre for CAA North and East Ontario. “That would be an extreme case, but yes, especially when you are travelling down to the states because the medical bills that you can rack up very quickly to the cost of what an insurance policy would be.”

Schuler has recommended that travellers should always know what their travel insurance policy covers for.

"Make sure you understand what your coverage is, because insurance companies don’t all cover for the same thing, and so you want to make sure that you understand your policy inside and out. You understand what is covered, what is not covered, the minimum, the maximum,” he remarked.


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