Uninsured traveller faces medical bills after Thailand crash that killed friend
Published Monday, January 23, 2017 6:42PM PST Last Updated Monday, January 23, 2017 6:59PM PST
A Vancouver woman is facing thousands of dollars of medical bills after being injured in a car crash that claimed the life of her friend in Thailand.
Nezabravka (Nezi) Borislavova and long-time friend Alexandra (Ali) Lambert, both in their early 20s, were driving on a highway near Phuket when it began to rain heavily and their vehicle hit a lamp post and spun off the road.
"The Jeep rolled down a steep embankment and rolled several times, and it was an awful wreck," Lambert's father, Douglas, told CTV News.
He said the women had been on their way to Bangkok when their "amazing adventure together" was cut short.
Lambert, 22, died of injuries caused by the crash, her father said. Her parents are working to bring their daughter's body back to Vancouver.
"It's every parent's worst nightmare. We're getting through it one day at a time, we're trying to remember to breathe," Douglas Lambert said.
"We're going to get through this. We're never going to be the same, but we're going to get through this."
He said Borislavova suffered internal bleeding and broken bones, and needed a number of operations, but fortunately is "going to be fine" once she's recuperated.
Borislavova's friends are trying to raise money for her care while in Thailand, and to help her to get to her parents' home in Calgary.
She had no travel or medical insurance, and has limited resources through her family, according to a crowdfunding page set up to help cover her medical costs.
"We are asking for people's support to bring her home," wrote page creator Pat Parenteau.
"Global Affairs Canada will assist where they can but monies are needed for medical and travel expenses."
The page raised more than $20,000 in two days. Its creator hopes to raise $50,000 to cover her bills and bring Borislavova home.
The situation is a somber reminder of the role travel insurance can play in event of an emergency.
Wedad Bishara, owner and manager of a Vancouver branch of Marlin Travel, said the added expense can have "great value" if there is a crisis overseas.
"It is almost obligatory for every travel agent legally in Canada to provide their guests or their travellers with the appropriate information about travel insurance, which is extremely inexpensive when we consider the effect and the importance and the high cost of medical insurance abroad," she said Monday.
She said medical insurance plans can cover expenses up to $10 million per trip, and comprehensive travel insurance also covers other unplanned issues, like loss of luggage. Insurance plans can also cover the costs of immediate relatives coming to visit an injured or sick traveller in hospital.
Insurance also offers peace of mind, so a traveller knows there is someone "backing you up" 24 hours a day, "in all kinds of languages, anywhere you are in the world," she said.
"You cannot put a value to the importance of this to any Canadian who's travelling out of this country."
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Scott Hurst