Insurance Woes Drag On for Foreign Tour Bus Crash Victims

Almost a month to the day after a bus crash in Prey Veng province, which left one foreign tourist dead and six seriously injured, financial diff­iculties are still plaguing the victims—even those who had taken out travel insurance before visiting Cambodia.

Nina Kristine, the 30-year-old Fili­pina who had her leg amputated af­ter the accident, has received the max­imum $5,000 she is entitled to from Cambodia-Vietnam Insurance. But this will not cover her mounting medical costs in Phnom Penh, where she remains hospitalized await­ing further surgery on her oth­er seriously injured leg.

Michael O’Riordan, the 30-year-old Irishman who suffered serious in­­ternal injuries, severe pelvic damage and broken ribs in the crash on July 31, has just returned home to Ireland. He remains in serious condition in a Cork hospital, his father, John O’Riordan, said yesterday.

Mr O’Riordan said that Michael had paid about $216 for travel insurance from Travel Insurance Direct Ireland Ltd—a travel insurance company regulated by the Fi­nancial Services Authority in the UK and the Irish Financial Services Reg­ulatory Authority.

Mr O’Riordan described the or­deal his son had endured following the crash.

After being informed by telephone by a witness at the scene on July 31, Mr O’Riordan and his wife waited four hours before hearing of their son’s whereabouts and condition. Michael was later located in Phnom Penh’s Calmette Hospital by a representative from the British Embassy.

The weekend of the accident was a public holiday in Ireland, which made it difficult to contact the office of the insurance company, Mr O’Rior­dan said. Eventually, on Mon­day, Aug 1, Mr O’Riordan was told that “there was no insurance cover for Michael.”

The insurance company said that because Michael had purchased his insurance package on­line in Bang­kok—almost two weeks before the crash-—he was not covered be­cause he was already on his trip.

The quoted cost of medical evacuation from Phnom Penh to Bang­kok for Michael totaled about $30,000. The credit card limit Mr O’Riordan had access to was about $18,000, which meant Michael re­mained in limbo for two days until the Irish health service intervened and assisted with the evacuation.

CVI, the insurance company of the bus operator, Kampuchea Ang­kor Express, could not be reached for comment.

Nov Kea Virak, manager of the Kampuchea Angkor Express bus company, said yesterday that he would consider offering “some compensation” of his own to the victims.

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