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'Life or death' detail in Australia Post travel insurance infuriates injured tourist

The furious traveller claims she specifically purchased an insurance plan that covered overseas surgeries.

A fuming traveller has claimed that after breaking her wrist in Bali, she was told by her insurance company that she'd have to fly back to Australia for treatment, despite signing up for a plan that covered "unlimited surgeries".

Michelle Fotheringham, from the Gold Coast in Queensland, said she broke her wrist in two places after tripping over while on holiday in Bali. Following a visit to a hospital in Kuta, she said she was told by doctors that surgery would cost "$15,000 — plus $1499 per night in hospital, plus any extras".

Aussie mum flown home with broken wrist

When she contacted Australia Post, whom she is insured by, Fotheringham claimed the company "refused to pay for the surgery" and told me to "get on the first plane back to Australia and go to A&E".

X-rays of Queensland woman Michelle Fotheringham's broken wrist after falling in Bali.
Queensland woman Michelle Fotheringham says she was told by her insurer to travel home for surgery after breaking her wrist in Bali. Source: Yahoo News Australia

This is despite her having the most comprehensive insurance plan available, which offers unlimited "overseas hospital, medical, surgical, nursing, ambulance and emergency dental expenses".

"I was happy to pay for it myself until they gave me the quote, then I decided to check with them (Australia Post) first," Fotheringham told Yahoo News Australia. "Thank god I did — it is so frustrating that they send you home and don't payout and it lands on Medicare here."

Fotheringham, who paid $170 for her insurance, encouraged Aussies to choose wisely and pay attention to the terms and conditions.

Michelle Fotheringham has urged Aussies to be extra cautious when picking out their travel insurance. Source: Facebook.
Michelle Fotheringham has urged Aussies to be extra cautious when picking out their travel insurance. Source: Facebook.

'Check carefully what your policy covers', Aussie warns

"Please check very carefully on what your policy covers you for. I travel to Bali about six times a year and chose to insure with Australia Post — never again!" Fotheringham said. "They refused to pay for the surgery and told me to get on the first plane back to Australia and go to A&E. When asked: Is this because it’s better to go home, or your saving money on my claim?

"Reply was: We only pay for surgery if it's a life or death situation. My reply: Wow!

"Long and short is I went to A&E as soon as I landed on Monday night, they straightened it and set it in plaster — now waiting for surgery. Still not sure what we are actually covered for?"

Still "in a lot of pain", Fotheringham said "she's still awaiting surgery" — which could have already been completed in Indonesia — in Australia.

Australia Post responds

A spokesperson for Australia Post told Yahoo they're working with Fotheringham to assist with her flight and medical costs. "Australia Post takes seriously our duty of care to customers covered by our travel insurance products," a spokesperson said.

"Decisions regarding any claims take into account many factors, including the option for customers to return to Australia for medical treatment where safe to do so. We are working with the customer to assist them with their claim for flight and medical costs."

Yahoo understands that Australia Post outsources their insurance via a third party, who advised Fotheringham that treatment options would be of higher quality in Australia.

Fotheringham has confirmed to Yahoo that she is in talks with the provider.

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