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So … You’re Travelling To Bali Without Insurance…

Big surf, crystal clear seas, fabulous retirement and the excitement of roaring around on custom bikes lure people to Bali like bees to honey. But what happens when the sweet spot sours? Ondy Sweeting gets the heads up on a new health insurance solution that cuts through the double-dealing insurance fine print.

Health insurance may possibly be the least inspiring of all travel talk, but for those living in Bali it’s a hot topic.

The stream of social media posts begging money for the hapless, harmed and uninsured chronically fatigues expats and locals in Indonesia.

URGENT: Well known Canggu surfer Sage Longbottom had a horrific bike accident last Sunday. He is on life support at Siloam Hospital with serious head injuries. He needs get to Australia fast. We all know and love Sage and respect his work helping the beach dogs of Brawa. Please donate now so we can medi-vac him to Perth. Sage has no health insurance and his parents have no assets to sell. His partner Rizki and baby Jet are struggling. Please help.

Try to find a health insurance policy that is aligned to life in Indonesia and you’ll drown in the flotsam.

However, a team of long time expats and unofficial first responders to medical emergencies have developed a bespoke health insurance cover written for residents across the Indonesian archipelago but with global reach, apart from the medically mad USA.

Meet the International Global Health (IGH), which is now approved for sale in Indonesia, worldwide and backed by Australia’s largest insurer QBE.

According to IGH founder, Richard Flax, all policyholders can be treated in Australia and Singapore.

“We have established partnerships with more than 200 hospitals in Australia, more than a dozen in Singapore and over 500 hospitals across Indonesia. We have created a pathway through the usual restrictions of Australia’s healthcare system for policy-holders who are not Australian nationals,” Richard said.

That means if non-Australians get hurt, say canyoning in Java, diving in Raja Empat, hiking in Borneo or even having a heart attack over some fine wine at dinner in Ubud, you can choose to be evacuated to Australia for cash-free treatment in one of 235 partner hospitals. This is pretty awesome because this solution has no exemption for wild activities usually branded as ‘extreme sports’.

IGH has four plans that deliver different levels of cover internationally from the ‘bare bones’ Garnet policy designed for the young through to a five-star plan that includes pregnancy and stem cell therapy. All but the Garnet policy has US$ 1.75 million worth of medi-vac. However, the low-cost Garnet policy is capped at $200,000, which includes medi-vac. This is a mother-pleaser exclusively for the 18 to 29 year olds.

“We also look after intrepid elders who want more than suburban leisure years. People up to 70 years old can join and once they have been accepted there is no cut off point at a certain age. Chronic care issues are covered,” Richard said.

Many insurance companies are infamous for exclusions, which are conditions and treatments that they won’t pay for. This includes refusal to pay for illnesses that existed before you bought the plan.

It’s the weasel word of ‘pre-existing conditions’. Older people usually have a lot. Kids even have them.

Say, you’ve been treated for migraine in Munich or Madrid some years ago and it looks like it may not come back. IGH is often prepared to cover it with the addition of a loading. After a certain period of time lapses without any problem – the length of time depends on the condition – the loading will be dropped.

“If a client pays the loading they are guaranteed cover even if the health issue returns. This is attractive because once you have been accepted the cover lasts for as long as the premiums are paid. Otherwise you are out in the cold,” said Richard.

While these policies cover the best medical essentials they also include alternative therapies. If you want your migraine treated with acupuncture, go ahead. IGH encourages the use of alternative therapies because the founders have a total of 100 years of experience in the medical industry here and understand that health care decisions are not always mainstream.

“We have written our own policy to suit our environment. I have never seen the same situation twice. A bike accident in Lovina is very different to a bike accident in Labuan Bajo. Basically, we just want to make everybody safer,” Richard said.

Already talk of a fit-for-purpose worldwide health insurance policy being launched in Bali has gained momentum and the company is being approached by businesses and expats.

Every jet set nomad – grey or green – should understand that disaster could quickly turn to catastrophe when accidents happen in foreign lands. The only way to reduce such devastating blows is to insure against them.