A woman who almost died on a foreign holiday must pay a £30,000 medical bill because sleeping tablets invalidated her insurance.
Juliet Thomas, 50, said: “It’s my life savings. I’m in tears constantly.”
After collapsing four days into her trip to Cape Verde, she needed a blood transfusion and an emergency op to remove a benign kidney tumour causing internal bleeding that nearly led to organ failure.
The council worker, who had no history of kidney or serious health problems, was in intensive care when insurer AXA told her it could not cover the cost of her treatment.
Her holiday insurance policy was for people with no pre-existing conditions and who had not taken prescribed medication in the past five years.
AXA refused to pay up because she unwittingly failed to declare a prescription for sleeping tablets for insomnia.
Juliet, of Sychdyn, Flintshire, said: “When I needed them most, they gave me a slap in the face.”
She had the transfusion in Cape Verde, off north west Africa, then was airlifted for two hours to Tenerife for the op.
Juliet was in intensive care there for several weeks before flying home where she is recovering.
AXA said, as a goodwill gesture, it has moved her to another policy.
It then paid around £12,500 of the £43,000 medical costs, leaving a balance of about £30,500.
Bosses added: “We sympathise with Miss Thomas but the policy she purchased is designed for customers without recent medical conditions.”
Juliet’s MP, David Hanson, said AXA has acted “dreadfully”.
He added the reasons given by the firm for not paying her claim are “dubious to say the least”.
Check fine print to get right deal
By Jan Carlton, senior consumer expert at Citizens Advice
It’s important to ensure you get the right travel insurance coverage.
Compare policies by what they cover as well as by cost. The cheapest may not offer the best value for money – and may carry a high excess.
Double-check what your policy covers if you have a health condition, are over 65 or plan any risky sports or activities.
Pick a policy for your needs, but check you do not have a pre-existing policy that covers you when away from home.
If heading for Europe, register for a EHIC card – it gets you free or cut-price medical care – and if US-bound you will need extra medical cover.
Other factors include your age, how often you travel and if it’s a package deal or independent travel. Also, cruises or budget airlines are not included in some policies.
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