Warning to tourists as 'insignificant' detail costs mum $6,000 in Bali

A trip to a picturesque Balinese retreat turned into a disaster for Ingrid when she suddenly became paralysed and fell into the water.

A mum who suffered a stroke while holidaying in Bali is now facing a $6000 bill thanks to a "confusing" detail on her travel insurance.

Ingrid Zubaydullaeva, 59, who lives in Melbourne, flew to Ubud for what was meant to be a relaxing time at a wellness retreat. However on August 27, just a day after arriving, she suffered a haemorrhagic stroke caused by bleeding in the brain by a ruptured blood vessel.

"When she was standing under a waterfall, she started to feel like something was not right," good friend Liz Brine told Yahoo News Australia. "A minute later she thought she was going to die."

A photo of Ingrid Zubaydullaeva, who lives in Officer, Melbourne. A photo of Ingrid after she suffered a stroke in Ubud, Bali while at a wellness retreat.
Ingrid Zubaydullaeva, who lives in Melbourne, suffered a stroke in Ubud, Bali while at a wellness retreat. Source: Supplied

The right side of Ingrid's body became "paralysed" and she "fell into the water", at which point others started to realise something was off and came to the traveller's aid.

"The right side of her face was drooping, her speech was very slurred and then all the chaos started with trying to get an ambulance," Liz said.

She claimed it took five hours from the "onset of the stroke to the time she got to hospital," given the location had "very poor reception" and was hard to reach by paramedics.

Woman's claim rejected by insurance over 'pre-existing condition'

Almost two weeks later, Ingrid is still being treated in Ari Canti Hospital, where she has been presented with a bill of more than $6000 for hospital treatment, which won't be covered by her travel insurance with Commonwealth Bank Australia.

"Before her trip she asked her GP if she needs to provide anything to her insurance company about her hypertension," Liz said. "But the GP advised it was well-managed and not significant, and that she is fit for travel. There were no signs that something like this would happen.

"So it was not declared and the claim was denied based on the fact she had a pre-existing condition."

A photo of tourists at the Petanu river near Ubud, Bali.
Ingrid was at a waterfall during an excursion as part of the wellness retreat in Ubud, when she started experiencing stroke symptoms. Source: Getty file image

Jo McCauley, CEO at Southern Cross Travel Insurance, said a "pre-existing medical condition can be an illness, injury or health symptom that you knew about before the date your insurance starts" and "sought or received medical help for".

She said she understood "getting cover for pre-existing medical conditions for travel can be confusing", however stressed the importance of considering this "when thinking about which travel insurance to buy".

What to do if you have a pre-exisiting condition

Natalie Ball, director of Comparetravelinsurance.com.au, added that “even if your medical condition is controlled and doesn’t cause you issues, it should still be declared".

“In the event that you require hospitalisation or emergency assistance, travellers who haven’t disclosed their prior medical conditions could be uninsured and therefore liable for tens of thousands in medical costs.

"Our best advice would be to speak to your insurer and be as transparent as possible. If in doubt, check with your doctor too.”

She also explained that not having proper cover could potentially jeopardise a traveller's treatment, given that medical staff in some countries "simply won’t treat you unless they know that someone is going to pay the bill".

GoFundMe started to help Ingrid pay medical bills

Despite Ingrid speaking to her doctor, she has sadly found herself in this situation, leading to Liz starting a GoFundMe to help pay for hospital bills, accomodation, physiotherapy and doctor visits.

"It's been a very stressful time for her," she said. "I just want her to be able to focus on her recovery rather than worrying about how she's going to pay for all these expenses."

Ingrid is still struggling with mobility and speech, however she is making "steady progress" and was discharged on Sunday. Her youngest son has flown to Bali to be with her until she can safely make the journey back home.

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube.