4 Sep 2018

NZer in coma in Bali didn’t declare medical condition to insurer

From Checkpoint, 5:18 pm on 4 September 2018

A New Zealand woman lying gravely ill in a Bali hospital did not declare her pre-existing condition to her insurer.

Abby Hartley was admitted to hospital on 1 August while on her second honeymoon in Bali.

She had a twisted bowel and contracted a blood infection and her family says she is now in a coma.

The Balinese hospital today confirmed Mrs Hartley purchased insurance with Cover-More Travel Insurance through Air New Zealand but Mrs Hartley did not disclose her pre-existing bowel condition before she and her husband Richard left for a second honeymoon in Bali last month.

The family has repeatedly refused to name the insurer.

A Givealittle fundraising page towards her hospital bills and a Medivac flight home was closed on Friday.

The situation had prompted New Zealanders to raise more than $237,000 to the family.

Givealittle said in a statement that it asked fundraisers to be transparent, but could not check and verify every detail associated with a page. It said it would seek further clarification if it had reason to believe there was misleading or inaccurate information.

"In the case of Abby Hartley's page, there has been no such report from anyone or reason for us to question how the situation has been represented," the statement read.

"We often get pages set up to fundraise for people who have failed to take out travel insurance, or have failed to disclose pre-existing conditions on their insurance forms, or haven't properly read and understood the Ts and Cs [Terms and Conditions]. All we ask for people to be upfront about this, and then NZers can judge whether they want to donate their money to the cause."

Cover-more would not be interviewed but in a statement a spokesperson said its thoughts were with Abby and her family.

"We assess all our cases with care, compassion and equity and our starting point is that travel insurance is meant to protect you from the unforeseen and the unexpected when you decide to travel," the statement read.

"We rely on our customers being completely open and upfront with us about the state of their health and encourage our customers to disclose any existing medical conditions they have at the time they buy their travel insurance.

"There are many existing medical conditions we automatically cover and many more we can cover after assessment."

Insurance Council chief executive Tim Grafton told Checkpoint with John Campbell it was possible to travel with a pre-existing condition, but it might be excluded from a policy or there might be a higher premium to include it.

New Zealand mother Abby Hartley in a Bali Hospital with her children, Sophie and Toby, and husband, Richard.

New Zealand mother Abby Hartley in a Bali Hospital with her children, Sophie and Toby, and husband, Richard. Photo: Givealittle.co.nz

Insurers would then decide if they wanted to accept the risk, he said.

"But if they don't it's probably a pretty strong signal to you - 'should I be travelling?' - because if something goes wrong this could create a major cost for me."

He said one of his staff members had confirmed with Cover-More that they insured Ms Hartley.

Mr Grafton would not speak specifically about the case, but would in general terms.

"If it was a condition that an insurer would not take the risk for, then that should have been declared and if they have declined the claim that's a consequence on what the policy does or does not cover.

"There's a lot of commentary, publicly, that the insurer should be paying up, but the question has to be asked 'what were the facts, what was the presumption here'?" Mr Grafton said.

"Getting the facts of the situation is something I think is healthy, and I haven't yet heard any criticism made from those involved with respect to the insurer."