True Stories

True Stories

You’re going on a trip and have made up your mind that you don’t need travel insurance. Maybe you’re just planning to sit on the beach, so what’s the worst that can happen, right?

The reality is that travel emergencies can happen to all types of travellers at any age – even if you’re not planning any big adventures while you’re away.

Here are some examples of travellers who experienced the unexpected and what we did to help.

A patient called us from Nicaragua, where she had sustained a 2nd degree burn to her leg. With care lacking and infection setting in, the decision was made to send an escort to fly with her back to Canada for treatment as soon as possible. This proved a major challenge for our transport team, as the patient was in a remote village hours away from the nearest airport, with access only by bus and boat over rough terrain, in an area where assault and kidnapping are very real risks to a woman travelling alone.

The perfect solution was a uniquely qualified escort – not only an ICU nurse, but a former deputy sheriff and an Ironman champion. Through a 16 hour/3 connection flight, followed by a difficult journey by land through the jungle and by river boat, he made his way to the grateful patient. He even had to help push start the ambulance to get to the hospital! After treating her on the spot with much needed antibiotics, they made their way safely together back to Canada where she was admitted to hospital.

One of our Registered Nurses had a delightful surprise one day when she was called to reception during her shift. She was greeted by the mother of a teenaged patient who had been admitted to hospital for an appendectomy while travelling away from home. The patient’s mother had brought our nurse a beautiful bouquet of flowers as a token of her gratitude for how she had handled a difficult situation.

The daughter had been travelling alone when she arrived at the hospital with abdominal pain. Her mother became very worried that the doctors would not perform the urgent surgery until the hospital had been guaranteed payment. Our nurse took charge. She called the hospital, and with perseverance, reassured them that Allianz Global Assistance would handle the billing directly so they could proceed with the surgery.

Understanding that the mother (who was still in Canada) was frightened and worried, our nurse kept her informed and reassured with regular updates about her daughter. The surgery was a success and after a return flight organized by Allianz Global Assistance, mother and daughter were happily reunited at home in Canada.

We received a call from a customer’s daughter in Canada requesting that we call her mother, who was vacationing in Spain. It was an emergency. When we reached the mother, she told us that her husband had stopped breathing and that she had tried to resuscitate him but could not.

Understandably, she was extremely upset so we called her daughter back regarding all the contract details. The mother’s neighbour in Spain called us in the meantime, informing us that because our customer had died before an ambulance had arrived, protocol required that the police be contacted, but our customer’s widow was hesitant.

We inquired with the Canadian Embassy and indeed, police intervention was necessary. We gently persuaded our client to call the local police, and shortly thereafter, arranged for repatriation and transfer of the body to a funeral home in Canada. When our customer returned to Canada, she called to thank us for all of the kind assistance we provided. She even extended a dinner invitation to her home, which we graciously declined. Knowing that we were able to help her in a time of such emotional need was the best gratitude we could ever receive.

The following letter was received from a cruise ship’s treating physician who had worked with the Canadian Allianz Global Assistance team to coordinate a patient’s air evacuation...

Good evening all!

I just wanted to pass on my personal thanks to all of you involved in your customer’s medical evacuation. After four years of working at sea, I cannot think of anyone else in the world that performed an air evacuation under these circumstances as quickly and efficiently as you did today! 

At this stage, I usually would still be fighting through red tape or on hold, waiting to speak to yet another medical coordinator. In fact, you worked so quickly that you took me by surprise giving me only about 30 minutes to prepare a ventilated patient for transfer! It was a shock and rather stressful in terms of time, but in a pleasant way! Thank you all again. You should be proud of the service you provided…and the patient was very lucky to have had all your expert assistance. You made my day a lot easier.

Many thanks and kind regards,

Senior Doctor - Cruise Ship

A customer, who was pressed for time and supposed to catch an airport shuttle in 20 minutes, contacted us requesting medical treatment. We knew she was anxious about her flight, so we arranged for the hotel doctor to visit her directly and asked him to send us all the billing information so that our customer did not have to worry about time-consuming details when he arrived. Then, to further expedite the process, we made credit card payment arrangements directly with the doctor.

When our customer returned to Canada, she called our office to confirm that she had received the original credit card receipt and doctor’s bill. We asked her to mail them to us so we could close her file. At that point, she realized she lived nearby and decided to deliver a personal thank you – a box of chocolates! – to our case manager. Along with the chocolates, she expressed her gratitude for our timely, professional help and for reassuring her in a time of need.

One of our customers took his son’s hockey team to the Czech Republic for a hockey tournament.

Many team members came down with an upper respiratory infection and needed medical treatment. However, the team had purchased coverage from a competitor, only to find that the provider could not offer a medical referral, coordinate a visit, or assist with direct payment because the hockey team was overseas. The father, who had family coverage through his employee benefits, contacted us at Allianz Global Assistance to see if we could help. One of our case management team leaders quickly set the wheels in motion.

By coordinating efforts with our local Czech Republic business unit, we quickly organized medical visits for the father, who was also sick, along with his son and the entire team. Team members were taken to the medical facility, and all member expenses and coordination of benefits were taken in charge after the case. When you have an international network like we do, you can be assured that help is on hand quickly and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!

A Canadian woman travelling with her husband in Cuba was taken to a remote country hospital with stroke-like symptoms. Through sporadic communications, our medical team confirmed that she could travel and we proceeded to organize her evacuation to Canada, however, there was unfortunately no room for her husband on the air ambulance. We made arrangements for him to return on a commercial flight, but were unable to reach him with this information despite leaving several messages. We contacted his family, who told us that he had not received any information about his return.

Our Air Ambulance provider said they would relay his flight information to the husband when they picked up his wife but found him very distraught, at the airport, unable to manage the money transactions required to get on the plane. The provider purchased his airline ticket on behalf of Allianz Global Assistance, enabling him to reunite quickly with his wife. And just in time too, as she was diagnosed with meningitis! The Public Health department later contacted us to say they were most impressed at the speed with which we were able to evacuate our customer. “Your speed most certainly contributed to a successful outcome!” they said.

Our medical department at Allianz Global Assistance in Canada received a call from a distraught spouse whose husband had been admitted to a small clinic in Cuba with a serious heart attack. Though they had other primary insurance, the couple was not getting any feedback or assistance from their insurance company. Unsure of what to do, the wife wondered if we could help.

We stepped in immediately and after confirming stability to travel, ensured that the patient was evacuated to a receiving facility back in Canada within 24 hours of notification. We used the resources of one of our accredited Air Ambulance companies to ensure that we obtained a receiving bed for the patient, and to assist with financial issues that needed to be addressed.

The patient and his wife were very grateful to us for having gone above and beyond the call of duty to help them in their time of desperate need for emergency assistance. “We are indebted to you for the rest of their lives and feel that your actions saved my husband’s life,” his wife declared when she called in to thank us.