Accidents Happen. Buy International Medical Coverage.

This is not a happy post.  A friend and workshop participant arrived several days early to do some sightseeing on her own before our program started.  The taxi she was traveling in crashed into a concrete barrier on a major highway.  On impact, she was thrown from the back seat to front, hit her head on the dashboard, and went into an immediate coma.  She did not have international health/accident insurance and she was not wearing her seat belt.  I urge you to always wear your seat belt.  Even in collectivos where they pack 5 passengers into a 3 passenger vehicle.

It took me over three hours to get to her from the city center to the suburban clinic because of traffic to intervene.  It took hours of bureaucracy to get her moved from this clinic with limited facilities (where the ambulance took her from the accident site) to the best hospital in the city with a neurosurgery unit.

The cost for an emergency admission at a private, highest quality tertiary care center in Mexico, is 200,000 pesos payable in advance. That’s about $15,000 in today’s exchange rate.  That’s the base.  The cost for a medevac airplane to take an accident victim to the U.S. is $60,000.

This covers the logistics. I am unable to talk about the emotional impact to her family, friends, and to me.  It’s too painful.  This woman is young, beautiful, smart, and sensitive.  She does good work in the world that makes a huge difference in people’s lives.

It’s called an accident because we never know who it will happen to, what the severity will be, when or where it will happen.  Mexico is a wonderful place to visit.  However, you don’t want to be without medical insurance coverage here.  Indeed, if you travel the world, you need to be covered.

I am now requiring that anyone who attends one of our programs carry international travel/accident insurance.  Before it was an option.  Now, it is a requirement.

Accidents happen.  Let’s be prepared.

25 responses to “Accidents Happen. Buy International Medical Coverage.

  1. Norma – just re-read my travel insurance policy I bought through United with Allianz for $50.00. Had forgotten I still had the policy filed away.
    Allianz covers $15,000 for emergency medical care and $50,000 for air transportation to the US to a medical facility from wherever you are in the world.

  2. Hi Norma: So sorry to hear about your friend. How fortunate you are so bilingual….. Isn’t travel insurance just incase you can’t make your connection on the plane? Has anyone checked out AAA? Please keep me informed. We just returned from SMA and I didn’t fasten my seat belt once and presumed the taxi’s didn’t even have them.

    Thanks, Susanne

    • A lot of the taxis in Mexico put their seat belts down into the crack between the back and the seat so they can get 3 people in the back without something poking at them. This is especially true of collectivos. As with most everything in the world, buyer beware. I’ve asked all workshop participants to ask the drivers to pull out the seat belts — called cinturones in Spanish.

  3. Thank-you, Norma, for sharing your grief and your warning.
    I will read more carefully the travel insurance we currently buy, will research AAA coverage, and will insist that out Oaxaca family is fully covered whennthey visit us in the U.S.

    I don’t know how one is sure of wearing seatbelts when five are packed into a three passenger vehicle.

    You experienced a terrible tragedy. I hope you are getting good support. Sending prayers for recovery for the injured woman.

  4. Norma,

    I love you and am sending you extra strength and courage.


  5. Hey Norma … I am so sorry!!! Bless your heart and hers. Please also take care of your own self. Being the person ‘in charge’ is a highly responsible position.
    Merry Foss
    p.s. It looks like my condo is finally selling. Will still be here in the USA till June sometime, but eventually Teo, Mexico will INDEED be my home!!!
    I’ll see you then.

  6. Several years ago one of our Oaxaca neighbors had to be air evacuated to the US. Our landlady asked all of us to buy insurance that would cover such an expense. We did a lot of research, and did buy the coverage from a very highly regarded company called Med Jet. The cost while not low is far far less than the cost for air evacuation. We live in Washington, our current insurance laws do not allow it to be sold there as a new policy, but we are able to continue to renew the coverage.

  7. Norma, thank you for publishing this powerful message. As a physician, I am all too aware of how sudden unfortunate twists of fate, through no fault of our own, can have profound effects on our lives and those of our loved ones. The reality is that the far flung corners of the earth that we love to travel as artists, weavers, writers, are also often far from lifesaving medical interventions.

    • Pauline, yes, what you say is so true. We love to travel to experience a world that is different than our own, and that often means not having the technology or first-rate medical emergency services that we take for granted in the U.S. Tonight, my conversation with a group of friends was around what it means to be “safe.” If we didn’t explore, we could stay safely at home and be all the poorer for it. Life is so random, so precious, so precarious. Thank you for writing and sharing your perspective.

  8. Such sad news, I do hope she will recover, glad she was able to get back to the US to a good facility. How hard this must be for you, my thoughts are with you, the candles are lit.

  9. oh my word, norma. i am so sorry. for everyone involved. my thoughts and prayers are with you.

  10. Look at AAA coverage. $99/year to AAA members. If you can find better coverage at any price, please tell me about it. I want it.

  11. That is terrible news. It’s commendable, Norma, that you’ve shared such news, and provided a wake up call to anyone traveling anywhere at anytime. Not just in Mexico. Hang in there…& everyone, please always wear a seat belt.

  12. I am so terribly sorry to hear this news. What a sad way to be reminded of the importance of carrying medical and general travel insurance. I sincerely hope that a silver lining will emerge and that this workshop participant will fully recover from the ordeal. Let’s all remember that we unexpected circumstances of all kinds can happen when we travel – that’s why it’s unanticipated. Travel safely and smartly.

  13. Sending love your way. My heart goes out to her and to all of you.

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