Model’s ‘one in 100,000’ Bali nightmare
Like most of the one million Australians who visit Indonesia each year, Instagram model Emily Gurr loves holidaying in Bali.
But unlike most travellers, she's experienced two nightmare medical emergencies on the holiday island, which experts say is a one-in-100,000 run of bad luck.
The Queensland-based beauty, who has more than 116,000 followers on Instagram, told news.com.au she has been evacuated from Bali twice in need of emergency medical care. And had she not taken out travel insurance before both trips, she would have been left with a double-whammy of eye-watering medical bills.
In the most recent incident just weeks ago, Gurr had her injured ankle misdiagnosed by Bali doctors after she was hit by a motorbike as the rider was trying a kerbside park.
"We were walking to dinner, completely sober, and he came up on the bike lane and lost control and his bike fell on my ankle and smashed it," Gurr said.
"I kind of hit the ground and they thought it was a sprain when I originally went to the doctor and spent three hours there.
"It was pretty much them convincing us we had to pay them $150 and they weren't affiliated with an insurance company, so I ended up having to pay it. The medical report was, it's just a sprain, just ice, rest, compress."
But over the rest of her trip the pain worsened into "absolute agony" and Gurr got in touch with her insurer, 1Cover, which arranged for her to be flown home in business class on a Qantas flight.
Back at home in Australia, X-rays revealed Gurr's injury was much worse than a minor sprain.
"The doctor was like, 'Oh, they were so wrong, you've broken it in four spots, you need surgery'. I've got seven screws and a plate in my ankle at the moment."
This wasn't the first time Gurr had to be rescued from Bali.
Less than three years ago, the then 21-year-old became seriously ill with dengue fever, which she got from a mosquito bite about a week earlier in Vietnam.
She said she woke up one morning in Bali suffering from what she initially thought was a bad hangover, but things went quickly downhill.
"I felt awful, like a bus had hit me. I didn't know what it was but by the night time it was excruciating," she said.
After about 10 days in hospital the call was made to airvac Gurr out of Bali as her condition went downhill.
Gurr was flown to Darwin for treatment, and her mother was flown in to be with her.
The cost of the emergency evacuation alone was about $52,000.
"I don't think the (ankle injury) was quite as expensive but it would have been up there," Gurr said. "Without insurance I would have been bankrupt for sure."
Gurr's double-run of bad luck in Bali made her an unfortunate standout among her insurer's clients, the company's travel safety expert Richard Warburton said.
"In our 15-year history, our team have never seen a customer needing to be evacuated out of a destination twice for two completely different medical claims," he said.
"This is literally a one in 100,000 event. A remarkable if unwelcome event for Emily."
With Bali remaining a popular holiday spot for Aussies this summer, Mr Warburton said dengue fever was something to beware.
"Dengue fever is a mosquito borne disease, and Bali's main hospital records anywhere between 50 and 100 cases a year from tourists," he said.
"Dengue fever is a heightened risk particularly in the rainy season from October through April in tropical areas like Bali, and there are an expected 200,000-plus tourists due to visit Bali from Australia over the summers months.
"We recommend all travellers are very careful to ensure they apply adequate mosquito repellent at all time. They should also avoid areas with still water and large mosquito populations."
And like all times of the year, Aussie travellers should be especially wary of motorbike accidents.
"We are aware that on average 15 to 25 Australians are involved in road accidents every month in Bali, and pedestrians and riders alike have to be careful of Bali's poor road maintenance and potholes being a major factor in causing mishaps," Mr Warburton said.
Gurr told news.com.au apart from taking out travel insurance, it was worth finding out in advance what hospital or medical provider the insurer was affiliated with. That way, if the worst happened, you could go straight there.
"Generally they choose the best ones," she said.
"In Bali, especially with foreigners, it's all about getting the money first, so when 1Cover calls them and says 'Yes we're covering them,' they'll admit you and assess you and tell you what's wrong.
"Usually when something happens overseas you just Google the nearest hospital, but often it's just a local place that might try to scam you and you kind of get trapped."
Despite her misfortunes in Bali, Gurr said it hadn't put her off the holiday island - in fact, she's soon set to move there at the end of the year for work.
"You can't really live your life in fear," she said.
"I love it over there and there's risks everywhere, it's just about being careful.
"And having travel insurance is so vital. You never know what's going to happen. In Australia we have Medicare and health cover, so that covers you when you're in a familiar place, but when you're overseas you don't have those things and it's nice to rely on something and someone."