Thai hospital refuses to discharge indebted Australians
Dawn Weldon has no option but to try to crowdfund $56,000 from her hospital bed
Dawn Weldon was taken to hospital following a life-threatening moped accident, and is currently being held in a hospital in Thailand, unable to be discharged, until she has paid off her medical debt of $56,000. The 56-year-old Australian will need further treatment in Australia, but has also been quoted another $36,000 for medical transport back home.
Dawn Weldon was riding a moped in the Thai resort district of Ko Lanta on 15 January when an accident left her with a fractured skull, brain injuries and more than a dozen separate broken bones. She woke up from a coma only to discover that she had unaffordable debt, wasn’t able to leave until it was paid off, and had a travel insurance policy that wouldn’t pay out.
She is now stuck in limbo, unable to receive further treatments or get transferred to Australia until the medical bills are paid.
Why her travel insurance isn’t paying out
Dawn Weldon had travel insurance with Allianz, including 1.5 million Thai baht of medical cover, equivalent to $56,000, the amount she was charged for the life-saving treatments. According to friends of the family, the hospital specifically asked about her finances before providing treatment and delayed assistance until confirming her travel insurance details. This is fairly common around the world, and many hospitals will not commence treatments if a travel insurance policy doesn’t pay up front.
While Weldon's policy covered for her motorcycle riding, it also required her to hold an Australian motorcycle licence, which she does not. This travel insurance exclusion has left her stranded in Thailand, unable to move forwards or back.
Many people have taken to social media to argue she should have read the policy in more detail, and that it was entirely avoidable. While this is undoubtedly true, it’s also true that the vast majority of Australians do not read travel insurance exclusions, with only 31% of people delving into it before taking out a policy. Most Australians could have found themselves in the same situation.
If you’re heading overseas, consider going through a list of common travel insurance exclusions while you compare policies. Spending a couple of minutes more on travel insurance is far preferable to being stuck trying to raise $56,000 from a hospital bed in Thailand.