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How to Survive a Broken Bone in a Foreign Country

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How to Survive a Broken Bone in a Foreign Country

Dear Tokio Marine HCC Medical Insurance Services Group (HCC - MIS Group):

Me again. Funny how incidents, er, questions for you keep popping up. Which brings me to a recent trip to Thailand…

I'd been dreaming about this visit for many years. The primary goal: to hang out at an elephant sanctuary. Said sanctuary wasn't the first stop on the itinerary. The initial destination was Bangkok, with one day devoted to touring the city.

bangkok alley, thailand

I plunged in, exploring the city with vigor. Bangkok is a vibrant, high-speed destination, and after a while, my feet grew fatigued. Upon spotting a sign for a massage school, I was eager to serve as a test subject.

When my very kind massage therapist inquired about kneading-pressure preferences, I replied, “Strong." Apparently, his interpretation of “strong" was the equivalent of “super-human strength." Taking one of my feet into his hands, he cracked it like a walnut.

Immediately, I knew something was wrong, but amidst the pain a thought struck: You've waited years to spend time with the elephants. They're never going to let you do certain components of the visit with a broken foot. So, with tears in my eyes and gritted teeth meant to pass for a smile, I soldiered on... For about three steps... Yep, there was no way of getting around it. Medical attention was necessary.

cast broken foot

A visit to the emergency room brought with it a prognosis of a broken bone. I was supplied with a nifty "boot" that allowed me to amble around much more comfortably, while allowing my injury to heal.

Per instructions of the ER doctor in Bangkok, once I returned home to the United States, I had several follow-up visits with an orthopedist. I'm happy to announce, I am now boot, and injury, -free. Which brings me to paperwork...

My dilemma: what comes first, the chicken or the egg? Do I submit an insurance claim to HCC - MIS Group since the incident occurred while traveling, or do I go through my primary care insurance since the injury was also treated back in the U.S.?

As always, many thanks for your assistance.


The Accident-Prone Tourist

P.S. Enclosed is a photo. As you'll see, despite the boot, I was able to fulfill my elephant dreams. Sheer joy!

elephant ride thailand


Dear Accident-Prone Tourist,

Aren't elephants magnificent creatures! We completely understand your passion for getting up close and personal with the species. Walking around with a broken foot, though…

As for the chicken and the egg scenario, let's explore some options.

Both Atlas Travel and Atlas Premium travel medical insurance plans cover emergency room care abroad. There's no co-payment for emergency room treatment of an injury, under which breaking a bone would fall. An exception would be an emergency room visit for an illness, which carries with it a $200 co-payment, unless hospital admission is necessary.

Thailand is one of the 130 countries and territories worldwide where Tokio Marine HCC - MIS Group maintains relationships with hospitals and doctors. In fact, we can help you locate the appropriate healthcare professional while traveling internationally. Simply phone us at 1-800-605-2282 or 1-317-262-2132.

You didn't mention whether you speak Thai, but based on the mishap with the massage therapist, we're guessing there was a language barrier. Please note that Equian International, equian.com, our international provider network, provides a language, gender, and service criteria. Additionally, fill in the country, city, and type of healthcare provider required, and nearby healthcare experts/facility recommendations will appear onscreen.

Regarding your question about receiving continuing care for your injury upon returning home: Atlas policies have a "benefit period" in which "we will pay eligible medical expenses for up to 90 days beginning on the first day of diagnosis or treatment of a covered injury or illness while you are outside your home country." Since the expenses from your US-based orthopedist occurred within the 90 days of original treatment in Thailand, they would be covered by your Atlas policy- unless you have other insurance that applies.

The Atlas Travel Description of Coverage notes that “we shall not pay any claim if there is insurance which would… This insurance will apply with respect to expenses in excess of the amount paid or payable under such other insurance.”

In other words, if your primary care plan would cover the incident, HCC – MIS Group would act as secondary payer, covering what is left over or not covered (a deductible, for example) by your U.S.-based insurance plan.

Feel free to give us a call for further clarification, or if you have additional questions, at 1-800-605-2282.


Tokio Marine HCC - MIS Group Representative

P.S. Now that you've spent time with Asia's Elephas maximus, we recommend heading to Africa to see the Loxodonta Africana species. And absolutely go for a massage while there. But maybe ask for medium pressure this time.

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Tokio Marine HCC - MIS Group international insurance products are underwritten by Lloyd’s. Tokio Marine HCC - Medical Insurance Services Group (MIS Group) is a service company and a member of the Tokio Marine HCC group of companies. Tokio Marine HCC - MIS Group has authority to enter into contracts of insurance on behalf of the Lloyd’s underwriting members of Lloyd’s Syndicate 4141, which is managed by HCC Underwriting Agency Ltd.