TRAVEL INSURANCE – first encounter

After the exciting adventures under the waterfall, Ola’s knee refused to function exactly when we reached the safe town. As if the body tried hard to prevent anything from going down on the road. We therefore kickoff our insurance. What is our experience?

Our insurance is EURO26 in the WORLD version, the insurer is AXA. We paid for it 150 PLN per person per year.

Unfortunately, even though some elderly people already use Skype and WhatsApp, some companies try to avoid instant messaging services. The only way to contact our insurer is to call the telephone number – landline or cellular. 1 minute of call from Brazil costs 7 PLN, so we want to contact our friends by WhatsApp and ask them to call from Poland on our behalf. It doesn’t help that on the previous day there was a storm again and a lightning struck the antenna mast. Thanks to this, 95% of residents of Lençois didn’t have the Internet – both Wi-Fi and mobile. I leave Ola in our quarters, a house located in one of the highest points of the city and go down to the center in search of open Wi-Fi, which happily survived the lightning strike. After a day of wandering around the city and switching between networks, I finally manage to find the lucky one and contact our guardian angel in Poland – Drygas. He should be applauded for the instant handling of the matter. The insurer easily accepted the application from Drygas and sent us an email with a request to describe what, where and when happened. Unfortunately, it took them two days to organize a visit to an orthopaedist, during which I traveled between the found Wi-Fi and our accommodation, hoping that maybe an answer would come.

Finally it arrives – we have a visit in 2 days in a city distant by 75 km. Good enough. We are moving to the city of Seabra, boasting that it is the geographic center of the state of Bahia and having to offer, in fact, only the cheapest “eat as you like”, which we managed to hit in Brazil – 10 PLN! Oddly enough, the food was pretty good, at such a price we were expecting rather the cheapest canned products.

Michał happy with his plate

After spending the night in one of the nastiest hotels we had the unpleasantness to visit, after a hard search we find the clinic indicated by the insurer and we report on time to visit at 9:30. And here Brazil reminds us that it is Brazil. At the reception desk they say that the doctor will come around 10:00, there are still a few patients in front of Ola, so the visit should take place around 11:00. We hang around the city, eat breakfast, but because of the lack of any nice places in Seabra, we return to the waiting room where there is air conditioning and decent Wi-Fi. The doctor arrives at 11:30 and the visit takes place at 12:30. And here we were incredibly surprised. Firstly – the doctor asked Ola before the survey: marital status, length of stay in Brazil, occupation and… religion. Although we have become accustomed to the fact that practically everyone asks us about religion, we didn’t expect this question from the doctor, in particular, that it was entered into the patient’s card. It wasn’t until many days later that we learned that this was related to the fact that the followers of some religions don’t agree to certain treatments. Second surprise – we understood practically everything the doctor said. It was evident that he was a professional because, knowing that we were not fluent in Portuguese, he spoke slowly and clearly, so as not to leave any doubts and make sure that we understood all the recommendations. We went into the study together to help each other understand and speak, but it was completely unnecessary.

Hotel in Seabra – so pleasant

Diagnosis – probably damaged cartilage and a problem with the lateral ligament, but to know exactly what happened, Ola got a magnetic resonance order. It’s not in the clinic, of course, or even in the city. The nearest is in the city 120 km away. And it saves our wallets. The visit was organized in such a way that we pay for everything and the costs are returned to us on the basis of documents provided to the insurer. By the way, it is quite complicated, because often there is no confirmation for bus tickets, this applies in particular to metropolitan transport. Since the nearest MRI is 120 km in a completely different direction than we want to go later, we come up with an idea to suggest finding a resonance in Salvador. We are able to convince the insurer to call our Brazilian number, thanks to which we can settle the matter quickly and pay only 0.50 PLN for receiving the call. It turns out that the physician employed by the AXA company knows better than the orthopedist, who has just examined Ola and states that the matter is not urgent and resonance can be done after returning to Poland – the money for the examination will not be returned. We decide not to do the examination on our own and stick to the orthopedic recommendations – during the next days Ola will rest and take the prescribed medicine.

There is also the issue of reimbursement of medical costs that we incurred. Of course, at the beginning we get information that they need original documents from us. Because nobody never saw my postcards sent from Rio and the shipment from Poland to Curitiba has been stuck in customs 20 km from Curitiba for over a month, we categorically refuse to send anything by post. We are able to negotiate sending scans by email and we wait 30 days for the decision to refund the costs.

Rest in a hippie village

Not straining the knee means that Ola can’t carry a heavy backpack. Therefore, we decide that we will spend a few days in a hippie village in the middle of Chapada – Caete-Açu. Ola will spend time in the town, and I will hike the surrounding trails. I went to see the second highest waterfall of Brazil – 340 meters high Cachoeira da Fumaça. Unfortunately, it wasn’t raining on this side of the mountains and the waterfall looks like a flow from a small tap… A great impression, however, makes a few hundred meters cliff, from which every year falls a few tourists inadvertently approaching the slippery “throat” of the waterfall. Caete-Açu, placed  in the mountain valley, is isolated from the Brazilian hustle and bustle, whereby many hippies come to this place. Most of the people here are vegetarians, wear airy and colorful clothes, do handicrafts, massage and yoga, and the most popular haircut is dreadlocks. Of course, there are also two groups of capoeira, as we are still in Bahia.

Not straining one’s knees means overstretching the other’s
340 meters down
Jump over the edge
The Great Canyon
Rocky slide of Rio Preto

Insurance – summary

How would we rate the Brazilian health service and our insurer? The private clinic in which the visit took place was at the highest level, in no way deviating from Polish standards, and even you could have a cup of coffee and cookie. We don’t know what the public health service looks like – drivers said that unfortunately it is worse. Our insurance is EURO26 in the WORLD version, the insurer is in this case AXA. We paid for it 150 PLN per person per year. We don’t know if more expensive insurance offers faster service, more channels or less bureaucracy. We have the impression that Ola’s case was taken care of by anyone who happened to come by the computer (at least 4 different names had appeared in the footers). We have been asked many times about the things that we have already written about in our previous correspondence, and it took a long time to arrange a visit and answer our questions. We hope that in more serious cases, help is provided much faster and more efficiently and we will not test these cases. The fact is that the delay in contact was also caused by our lack of internet in Lençois – we couldn’t receive and reply to emails on a regular basis. Waiting for a visit in the clinic, it turned out that AXA can call us on our Brazilian number, and the contact was then very efficient. It’s good that we tested the insurance in a case that was not urgent and very serious. We already know that in the future we will immediately ask for telephone contact, we also know what set of information has to be provided at the beginning.

Considering the above, we issue a grade of 75%, with a great chance for improvement.

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