Travel insurance could have helped man hospitalized abroad

Travel insurance could have helped man hospitalized abroad »Play Video

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - When Enjoli and Calvin Black decided to join their friends Brian and Shimeaka Hodges for a few days of fun in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, none of them thought about purchasing traveler's insurance.

"Didn't even cross our mind," said Enjoli Black.

Tragically, 36-year-old Brian Hodges, of Bakersfield, wound up suffering a serious injury in a zip-lining accident.

Hodges suffered a severe head injury, broken neck, trauma to his shoulders and three broken ribs. He spent time in a medically induced coma in a hospital 1,200 miles away from home.

On top of that, Shimeaka Hodges learned that their U.S. health insurance does not cover medical expenses abroad.

The wife had to pay the hospital in Cabo San Lucas $50,000 using a credit card in order for her husband to get treatment. Further medical expenses will have to be paid out of pocket.

That's where traveler's insurance can help, said Julie Salazar-Garcia, owner of the Cruise Port Travel Agency.

"Travel insurance pays hospital bills, emergency evacuation if they have to bring you home in an emergency, anything like that," said Garcia. "It's just like your medical insurance here that covers you, but it gives a little bit more."

Garcia said many people don't realize their health insurance is not valid when traveling abroad.

The cost is not too expensive, said Garcia. Travel insurance can be bought as part of a package when a person books a trip either by plane or cruise, or it can be bought separately.

There is some encouraging news in the case of Brian Hodges. The swelling in his brain has gone down, said Enjoli Black on Friday. And, he apparently recognized and reacted to the voices of his wife and mother.

Hodges was airlifted over the weekend from a hospital in Cabo San Lucas to a hospital in Southern California, according to a family member.

"When they were singing to him, he was fluttering his eyes," said Enjoli.

An effort to help the family deal with the mounting medical bills has been established. The fund is under Brian and Shimeaka Hodges at GoFundMe.com.

"This Bakersfield community is so loving and so giving," said Calvin Black. "They've reached out to us and try to help as best as they can."