The Road Ahead : December 2012
ROADAHEAD.COM.AU THE ROAD AHEAD DEC 2012/JAN 2013 46 TRAVEL TRAVEL INSURANCE IMAGINE BEING STRUCK down by a potentially fatal virus in a foreign country. You're faced with a strange bureaucracy, strange food, strange language -- and you need urgent medical treatment which costs thousands of dollars a day. It happened to Townsville man Gary Rebgetz, and he's thanking his lucky stars he booked his tour through RACQ Travel. In September, Gary was on a river cruise from Moscow to St Petersburg in Russia when he was struck down by Cytomegalovirus (CMV), an illness that could have proven fatal to the kidney transplant recipient. Fortunately, Gary had booked his tour and insurance with Townsville RACQ Travel supervisor Liz Frampton and it was to prove a saving grace during a week-long hospitalisation in a private clinic. His experience is an object lesson in the need to purchase travel insurance and of booking through a travel agent, rather than online. Thanks to Liz Frampton, Gary received valuable practical and emotional support during the 'despair and confusion' of his unexpected stay. In a letter thanking Liz and RACQ Travel for their help during his 'Russian Odyssey', he expressed 'sincere thanks and appreciation for your assistance for arranging, with the assistance of APT Europe, my exit from the clutches of confusing Russian bureaucracy'. While praising the Russian hospital system, he found the language, culture and food real problems. Still, he was lucky. Had Gary made his own internet booking, he would have been a stranger in a strange land -- all alone at the mercy of others. As it was, Gary received regular phone calls from Liz and the travel and insurance companies which relieved the anguish of being unable to communicate, watch TV or even read. Liz also liaised with tour company APT Europe; rescheduled his travel arrangements; arranged car transfers for his return flight; and even welcomed him back home with flowers sent to the hotel room. "I called him to give re-assurance, support -- to let him know that I was there to assist where needed -- and for moral support, more than anything, and also if I could assist with getting in touch with family or friends," Liz said. Gary was full of praise for Liz and tour organisers who kept in touch and even provided food parcels. 'What service, well beyond expectations,' he wrote in his thankyou letter. Wisely, Gary had taken out travel insurance, so the $20,000 cost of his hospital stay was covered. 'The moral of my experience is: Go get travel insurance,' he said. 'So many people go without it.' A fellow passenger suffering sinus problems who was uninsured was charged $3800 for transport and treatment for one afternoon. Gary's 'Russian Odyssey' shows the need to book through a reputable travel agent such as RACQ Travel. This is one horror story with a happy ending. STORY STEVE GRAY ESSENTIAL INFO: • Never go overseas without travel insurance. Medical and other costs can be astronomical in many overseas countries. If you can't afford the insurance, you can't afford to travel. • RACQ members can save at least 10 percent on their travel insurance policy with RACQ Travel. For details on the insurance PDS and disclaimer, please refer to page 3, call RACQ Travel on 1300 337 715 or go to racq.com/ travelinsurance. travel insurance: wouldn't be without it MAIN IMAGE: MOSCOW RIVER SCENE (COURTESY THINKSTOCK). INSET: GARY REBGETZ.