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Holidaymaker Paralysed in Turkey Having Insurance Problems

ETI Travel Protection LogoA holidaymaker and his family is facing a £43,000 bill after their travel insurance company refused to pay following the father being left paralysed and hospitalised due to a diving accident while in Turkey. Army engineer Michael Lonergan broke his neck last Thursday.

The horrible incident happened while Michael, his partner Debbie and their 2 kids – 1-year-old Grace and 5-year-old Jack – were on their first holiday as a family. They were staying at the Didim Beach resort, which is located on the west coast of Turkey in Altinkum. Debbie says that he jumped from a 3ft pier into the water, misjudging the depth of the water and hitting his head on the sand. He was knocked unconscious before being rescued by a member of the public.

Michael’s father, John, was under the impression that he was covered by travel insurance and says that they were given permission for him to be treated. He was originally taken to a public hospital and then transferred to a private hospital through the insurance company to have surgery. However, now the insurance firm is disputing the circumstances of the incident, and the family has been left with a £23,000 hospital bill and another £20,000 bill for flying him home.

Some goodwill has come to the family, however. The Turkish hospital has agreed to release Michael without payment. It also agreed to liaise with Michael’s insurance provider about his treatment following underwriter ETI Travel Protection refusing to cough up the money.

Adrian Lawrence, with the insurance underwriter, said in a statement that it’s important that people who are travelling abroad act responsibly – like they are uninsured. Most travel policies have exclusions, and one of these is travellers willfully exposing themselves to needless risk in any circumstances – except for when they are trying to save a human life. It’s rare that they make a decision not to pay when a policyholder has been hospitalised while on holiday. Every case is considered individually, and most are resolved fast and in favour of the customer. However, he wouldn’t specifically discuss the case due to client confidentiality.

As for flying Michael home, MP Huw Irranca Davies says that money was donated for an air ambulance. They have been communicating with Michael’s family in Turkey, and they are clearly distraught. They will get him home, but they don’t know when for sure. He believes it will be in the next few days but at least by the middle of next week. The MP also criticised the insurance company for not having any compassion for Michael, who is now paralysed from the neck down. However, he thanked the community for their huge, generous support and astonishing tribute. Contractors Harsco and Tata Steel told media they would give £10,000 each to help get Michael home.

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