A tourist and an Antiguan national have recently found themselves critically injured abroad without the means to pay their medical expenses, and a local insurance expert is urging travellers to take precautions to prevent such a situation.
Wendy Wallace, an Antiguan student attending the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill Campus is currently hospitalised in Dominica after a car accident that occurred last week. Local students attending the same campus are currently appealing to the public to assist in meeting Wallace’s medical expenses.
But not only can local insurance policies cover students studying abroad to prevent such a situation, but insurance coverage is a requirement for students in many universities in the Caribbean region, Marjorie Parchment, general manager of Bryson’s Insurance Company, said.
“I’m not sure what the situation is in Barbados, but I would be very surprised if they did not require insurance. And if they are not requiring insurance, they should start immediately,” Parchment said.
“It costs very little for persons who are under 35 to get medical insurance. They’re young, they’re healthy, and many of them would not have had any pre-existing conditions.”
According to the victim’s sister, Kempburn Wallace, the first hospital bill for treating Wallace’s injuries amounted to just over EC $9,100 and doctors advised her to raise a minimum of EC $30,000.
“If she had any insurance at all, she would be covered,” Parchment said.
Christopher Tester, a British visitor to Antigua who was shot in the head during the Christmas weekend, was airlifted to Guadeloupe for specialist treatment before returning home to the United Kingdom.
Tester’s family launched an online fund-raising campaign that raised £107,577 for his treatment. Parchment said that such fund-raising becomes necessary without medical insurance.
“When you see situations like that, it means that the victim does not have any insurance,” Parchment said. “Because if they had insurance, the insurance would be mobilised to airlift them out to the closest place where they can receive life-saving care. That’s the first priority of the insurance, to save your life.”
Officers of the Royal Police Force of Antigua & Barbuda have no identified leads or suspects in Tester’s shooting. The fund-raising campaign to cover the medical expenses of Wendy Wallace has so far raised US $3,075.