How to Survive a Broken Bone in a Foreign Country

Bekah Wright
How to Survive a Broken Bone in a Foreign Country

This blog is part of our accident-prone tourist series. It features letters inspired by real-life travel mishaps faced by frequent international traveler Bekah Wright.

Read the Other Blogs in the Accident-Prone Tourist Series:


Dear WorldTrips,

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, though. 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 student inquired about kneading-pressure preferences, I replied, “Strong." Apparently, his interpretation of “strong" was far more intense than I realized. 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? In this situation, would I submit an insurance claim to WorldTrips since the incident occurred while traveling, or would 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.

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

The Atlas Travel medical insurance plan covers emergency room care abroad. There's no co-payment for emergency room treatment of an injury outside of the U.S., under which breaking a bone would fall.

We can help you locate the appropriate healthcare professional while traveling internationally. Simply visit our “Find a Doctor” page or phone us at 1-800-605-2282 or 1-317-262-2132 for a referral from our international provider list.

You didn't mention whether you speak Thai. We offer multilingual travel assistance services to our customers through our World Service Center. These services include translation and interpretation assistance.

Regarding your question about receiving continued care for your injury upon returning home: Under Atlas Travel’s “benefit period,” we will cover eligible medical expenses in your home country for 90 days after the beginning of treatment, as long as the related injury/illness:

  • is eligible under your coverage,
  • began while your coverage was still in effect, and
  • treatment began while you were outside your home country.

Since the expenses from your U.S.-based orthopedist occurred within the 90 days of original treatment in Thailand, they would be covered by your Atlas policy—unless they fall under an exclusion or you have other insurance that applies.

The Atlas Travel Description of Coverage notes that we won’t pay any claim if you have insurance which would. Atlas Travel coverage 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, WorldTrips would act as secondary payer. We would cover what is left over, or not covered, 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.


WorldTrips 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!


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WorldTrips international travel medical insurance products are underwritten by Lloyd's. WorldTrips is a service company and a member of the Tokio Marine HCC group of companies. WorldTrips 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.