Travel insurance – why you need it: Kiwi’s near-death ordeal

Travel Insurance – why it is vital

The following story is real and highlights the reason why travel insurance is an absolute must when traveling away from home.  New Zealand has reciprocal health agreements with Australia and the United Kingdom (UK). Under each, certain services may be publicly funded for people covered by the agreements. Those services may be funded to the same extent as for a national of the country they’re visiting or staying in temporarily.  With the rest of the world you run the risk of serious bills when you don’t take out travel insurance.

A Kiwi fitness instructor has opened up about her near-death experience after she was thrown off a motorcycle in a horrific crash in Bali.

Auckland model Kobi Bracken was on a fun-filled two-and-a-half week holiday of the tropical island when just four days in her life flashed in front of her eyes.

The 25-year-old was heading home for the night on the back of a motorcycle when it was hit by a van at high speed, leaving Bracken with life-threatening injuries including a snapped femur, fractured eye socket, smashed cervical spine, an exposed knee cap and extensive blood loss.

Bracken told the Herald she doesn’t remember the accident, instead, her first memory was waking up alone in hospital unable to move.

“I grabbed my helmet and jumped on the motorbike behind the driver… we drove off to head back to our villa and then my next memory was waking up in hospital,” she explained.

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“There were all these lights and I just remember thinking ‘what is going on?’. I didn’t know what was wrong. I couldn’t move my leg. I was screaming.

“I remember waking up being very drowsy and I couldn’t move my right leg and I thought it was gone, that it had been amputated.

“I was quite secured in and I couldn’t move. It was terrifying. They had to sedate me because I was going a bit crazy with fear.

“My parents got called and were told the hospital didn’t know what state I was in, but that I may be in a coma. My family were distraught.

“It didn’t feel real. It was a crazy situation. You go from having a great time on holiday to waking up in a hospital bed and having no recollection of why or how you’re there.”

During her stay in a hospital, she lost a lot of blood. “My haemoglobin levels were dropping rapidly so I needed a blood transfusion, I received two bags of blood.

“I was pretty close to dying and no one knew what was wrong with me.”

Travel Insurance - why it is vital


Bracken’s stay in hospital wasn’t cheap, with medical bills costing an excess of $50,000.

Luckily, she had travel insurance after her mum made her look into it while booking her flights, saving them more than $50,000 in medical bills.

Now the young traveller wants her horrific experience to serve as a message to Kiwis of the importance of travel insurance.

“You don’t think about getting it. But you have to make it a priority. It’s vital to know your policies. Going on mopeds or motorbikes isn’t always covered with some insurance companies and I’m so lucky mine was,” she told the Herald.

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“I was like I don’t need insurance, nothing is going to get stolen. It’s that small-minded thought of nothing is going to go wrong, I’m not going to lose my baggage. That was all I was worried about – not that I was going to hurt myself, you just don’t think of that as a concern.

“Look at where you’re going, plan how you’re going to get around. Know how you’re going to get back to your accommodation and make sure you know someone knows where you are. Even if you’re overseas and they’re at home make sure someone is aware of your itinerary and where you’re supposed to be.

“It’s not hard to buy insurance and it’s cheaper than what the end bill will be. I’m very thankful my mum said to me ‘Kobi, get insurance because you don’t know what’s going to happen’.

“Read the policies. Certain activities [such as water sports] aren’t always covered. Often it’ll be in the fine print what isn’t covered.

“Make sure you understand what is covered, what isn’t and if you are doing activities that aren’t then make sure you follow the safety guides and be cautious.

“I’d never get on a motorbike in New Zealand, so why would I get on one in another country. That’s the thing you need to think about – if you wouldn’t do it in your own country then why would you do it in another?

“Take a second to think about the situation before diving in.”

Travel Insurance - don't leave home without it


Five months on from her horrific injuries Bracken still struggles to walk freely.

But she has made progress, going for her first major walk across the harbour bridge on Tuesday.

She says while the physical challenges of recovery have had its moments, the mental battle has been intense.

“I didn’t know recovery would take so long. I honestly thought I’d be back running in three months and doing all my high-intensity activities.

“I’ve had to tell myself to slow down and not be so hard on myself. It’s been mentally challenging but I’m pretty determined and mentally positive. I’ve been told I’m doing well so I have to trust myself.”

Bracken has since gone on another holiday to Australia, shooting down her post-surgery fears of travelling again

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While the fitness instructor might not be riding another motorcycle anytime soon, she has her mind set on completing her personal training course and getting back to high-intensity training in 2019.

By: Heath Moore