There’s now a travel insurance advisory for Indians visiting the UAE. This was issued by the Indian Diplomatic Mission. Motivated by two back-to-back instances of medical emergencies of Indian tourists in the UAE in less than two months, this travel insurance advisory is applicable to all visit and tourist visa applicants from India to the UAE.
The advisory demands that “Indians travelling to the UAE for visiting or tourism purposes are advised to take adequate medical insurance to cover up any expenditure on medical exigencies”.
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It has been said earlier on that the insurance of The Travel Insurance Advisory was motivated by two back-to-back instances of medical emergencies of Indian tourists in the UAE in less than two months. Specifically, these are the cases of the father of an Indian national working in the UAE (who requested that her name be undisclosed and thus we’ll refer to her as Jane Doe here) and the 61-year-old mother (Suchitra Pratap) of Navdeep Pratap.
Jane Doe brought her parents for a trip to Dubai. Her father, who is a diabetic patient, suffered a brain stroke as a result of blood pressure after arriving in Dubai on January 15. He has been admitted to a hospital in Sharjah since January 20.
She didn’t imagine or expect that her father would be admitted into a hospital a week into his visit, nor would she face stiff financial difficulty from this. She says: “I booked my parent’s tickets through a travel agent and he did not suggest I take an insurance policy for them. You can’t predict these things would happen.”
Jane Doe told Khaleej Times she is now suffering the brunt of not availing herself of a travel insurance policy for her aged parents as her hospital bills have now surpassed Dh130,000. She says the hospital’s social service team promised to help them with a payment structure. But that notwithstanding, she still has to pay the complete Dh130,000, an amount she said she can’t afford.
In the case of Navdeep Pratap’s mother, the 61-year-old, Suchitra Pratap, slipped into a coma after an accident in Discovery Gardens on February 6th. Suchitra Pratap was frolicking in the evening in the community when a horde of children playing football rammed into her. She loses her balance and falls. Consequent upon this fall, she, a retired teacher, suffered severe internal haemorrhage (internal bleeding). She was operated upon after which, she was put on a ventilator and lapsed into a coma.
Unfortunately, just like Jane Doe’s case, Navdeep hadn’t taken a travel insurance policy for his mother. In this way, his hospital bill has risen to Dh180,000 — a 35 percent discount notwithstanding.
As regards his mother’s health, in his words, “Her condition is currently stable; however, she would need long-term hospitalisation and therapy. I have procured the permissions to move her to KIMS Hospital in Hyderabad, India, on February 27.”
His resolution was: “I will be travelling with my mum [who was hospitalized at Al Zahra Hospital] in a few days. I have collected some funds from well-wishers and taken some advances from banks. Though the hospital has provided a 35 per cent discount, there is still an outstanding on Dh180,000 to be paid. If I can save on this amount, then I can spend towards her treatment in India. She needs long-term hospitalisation and therapy.”
The travel insurance advisory has been issued in order to offset high costs of medical treatments in the UAE for Indians, as well as instances of Indian travelers meeting with unexpected accidents which would involve huge medical bills the traveler or their relatives might find difficult to pay.
In the words of Vipul, the Consul-General of India to Dubai, “If there is a medical emergency case, money from the Indian Community Welfare Fund is used to relieve the family or the patient. However, that is on a means-tested basis and in some of the cases, it is difficult. Ultimately, we have to establish whether they have the resources to spend the money or not.”
“In the second case (Jane Doe’s), she does not have financial means to support a heavy medical bill. In this case, we write to the hospital to waive off the charges. Mostly, hospitals also consider these requests on humanitarian grounds.” The consulate does provide stretcher costs, air tickets and a medical escort to the patient in these cases so they can avail themselves of further treatment in India.
Vipul says, where hospital expenses are so huge that the consulate can’t handle them, the case is referred to Delhi. He added that “in many cases, the community comes to help as well”.
Vipul insisted that Indians should apply for a travel insurance before setting out of India, as the process to procure one is easy, and the costs fairly affordable. He says, “Sometimes people don’t realise that medical treatment here is very expensive. Hospital bills run into several thousand dirhams in Dubai.”
Praveen Kumar, a social worker and volunteer of the CGI community volunteer team, says they come across such cases a lot and that the consulate helps residents but that people must go for an insurance policy: “We come across a lot of such cases. This is the second case I am coming across this month. Normally, the consulate helps these residents in whatever capacity they can. However, people must take insurance as it does not cost over Rs1,000 for individuals.”