I recently took a sailing cruise on the superb Ombak Putih
to Lombok with a number of colorful personalities among whom
was Sue Speak. From the moment the ship disembarked, I began
to notice Sue endlessly jumping up day and night to answer
her calls - in the middle of the Lombok Strait - on her handphone
from her clients. She turned out to be a permanent resident
of Bali and worked as an independent medical insurance adviser.
As I usually do when I’m destined to be in the company
of people who I will probably never see again in my life,
I tried to think of every question I ever wanted to ask an
How did you wind up in Bali?
I arrived on a holiday on my way back to England to look for
a ‘proper job’ at the request of my family. I
left England in 1989 and worked in Hong Kong for 6 years then
Brunei Darussalam for 3 years. I’ve always worked back
office in the finance industry and it was while I was working
in Brunei that I administered the medical insurance plan for
the Sultan of Brunei’s flight crew. My family didn’t
think I was working at all but living on the beach and contemplating
clouds. So after the Sultan of Brunei lost most of his billions
and the subsequent reduction in investment clients there,
it was time for me to move on. Hence my trip to Bali where
I immediately saw a need for independent health insurance
advice. So here I’ve been for the last five years with
no plans to return to cold and windy England.
So what did you offer at the time?
I researched the market, gathered as much information as I
could and compared different companies who offered a broader
range of benefits and prices to suit all budgets and walks
of life. For example, I discovered one policy called “Asia
Care” from a well respected and reliable company, that
provides annually $100,000 worldwide cover and costs just
$429 per year for a 30-year-old.
How does one go about finding good insurance?
Check out and compare the benefits and prices of the different
companies on the Internet, talk to friends and ask them who
they use and if they are happy with their company. Find a
good local broker who is on the ground and can give that one-on-one
attention you need, not only when you’re buying the
insurance but afterwards if you have any queries or when making
a claim. It’s very reassuring to have someone you can
call if you’re worried and need advice on where to go
for help and in activating the insurance if you have a medical
How expensive can it get?
Prices and benefits vary from one company to another. You
can pay from between $1,353 to $3,000 annually for a young
couple with two children - depending on the insurance company
you choose and the level of benefits you desire.
Why is it not a good idea not to have coverage?
Just imagine if you had an accident, where would you go? Your
first thought should be “Where should I go and who is
going to take care of me?” and not “Where do I
go and how on earth am I going to pay for it?”
Have any of your clients ever been evacuated?
A few of my clients have needed evacuation. One client
who had pains in his chest went to a local western-standard
clinic here, was diagnosed as being in imminent danger of
having a heart attack. An air ambulance was flown in from
Singapore and he was evacuated within 12 hours and taken to
a hospital there to undergo immediate bypass surgery which
saved his life.
What about families with children?
It’s even more important that you have insurance when
you have children because kids get sick suddenly, they run
high temperatures (especially in the tropics), you don’t
know what’s wrong with them, they get dehydrated and
could go downhill very quickly. There’s one insurance
package offered by English-based insurance company William
Russell “The Premier Care Plan” which gives up
to $1.6 million annual limit for overall cover which includes
doctors visits, medicines, specialist fees, evacuation, hospitalization.
It’s very handy to have here in Bali as this company
offers a cashless outpatient service with the International
SOS clinic in Kuta. That means you can go there and it will
only ever cost you $40 per ailment whether you go one time
or ten times. The annual cost for this plan for a young family
with two children is around $3,000.
Any advice to give tourists?
Don’t travel to a foreign country without insurance.
And carry the policy with you - don’t leave it in your
suitcase or dresser drawer. For people who live here, always
carry your insurance card with you. Always know where your
passport is because it’s impossible to get evacuated
What about preventative health care?
Take responsibility for your own health, eat healthily, exercise
regularly, and if you’re not feeling well for heaven’s
sake go see the doctor!
If you have comments or questions about any of the above topics,
Sue can be contacted through her email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For anyone interested in being considered for Siapa, please
contact : email@example.com
Copyright@2004 Al Hickey
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