COVID 19 in action - interview with our first responders

COVID 19 in action - interview with our first responders 

Hotspot Cover’s CEO, Mark  Butler recently caught up with Mike O’Halloran (O’H as he’s better known), who is NGS’ Director of Risk & Insurance, to hear first hand  on some of the recent cases relating to COVID and how they are managing assistance cases relating to Coronavirus.

The salient points were:

  • The Covid 19 crisis has affected all medical cases whether they relate to Covid or not.

  • Covid-induced travel restrictions have had an effect on almost every case NGS has run over the last nine months with no case being the same as another.
  • Any case with or without COVID 19 remains is a moving beast, country by country, situation by situation.

  • NGS has been “chasing” open borders or adapting plans where evacuations were not viable or the preferred option.

Mark: O’H how has COVID 19 impacted your clients, emergency responses and interactions with clients on the ground? 

O’H: “As NGS are responding on the front lines so to speak, we’ve found COVID 19 has effected all medical cases even for those without any positive diagnosis for this new disease. The reason? Simply we’ve found that covid-induced travel restrictions have had an effect on almost every medical case we’ve run over the last nine months.  No case is ever the same as you guys at Hotspot know but COVID has meant even more that we’ve been chasing open borders or adapting plans in instances where evacuations were required or where early repatriation was not a viable or the preferred option.” 

Mark: What is that NGS do for COVID patients that sets you out from the crowd? 

O’H: “We have to say we just stick to what we do best and our sole aim, focus and MO (modus operandi) is to get it done in the best practical way possible and always in the very best interests of the patient. It sounds simple and there’s no false modesty here but the complex planning requirements and decision points would bore even the best statistician. In short any case with or without COVID remains a moving beast country by country – situation by situation….  that honestly is where Hotspot’s broad coverages and our critical responses come into their own.  

Suffice to say on occasions we’ve needed to exploit and leverage whatever influence we can. These are done using our “black book” of contacts and experience in managing evacs and across all touchpoints in the medical and emergency space whilst working across the globe.

Mark: So what assets do you bring to the table – describe if you can a typical covid response and what factors come into play?

O’H: “We work on all the assets at our disposal and this includes our extensive network, medical consultants, civil aviation authorities, diplomatic relationships and government officials, as well as managing the client’s expectations accordingly. We already know the difference between what an insured person wants and what they need… but believe me when we say this but getting into an Air Ambulance and flying home is not always the safest or best option for your health or needs. 

On one occasion we were asked by an Insurance Broker to take over the evacuation of one of their clients, a 51-year-old male patient with confirmed, deteriorating COVID-19 and a  medical history of complicating conditions, who was located in Benghazi, Libya. The patient was complaining of fever for several days, a worsening cough, shortness of breath and a loss of taste and smell. The appointed assistance company had attempted an evacuation within the days prior, however, due to various operational issues with visas and customs and immigration regulations, their attempts had unfortunately failed.

We successfully performed this urgent medical evacuation with multi-layered internal coordination from the NGS Operations Team, targeted support from a trusted Air Ambulance provider with a COVID-19 capable air ambulance and an existing network of contacts within diplomatic services which, once knitted together, facilitated an evacuation that appeared to be unable to go ahead after the work done by an incumbent assistance provider


Mark: Can you tell us typical costs associated with COVID?

O’H: The below cases we hope demonstrate the many strings to our bow and the variety and indeed global footprint of our capabilities. The Hotspot client and insureds should rest assured that we are there to look after them for COVID whether they need us to attend to an insured benefit or just need to call to get some advice or service that is off-policy to speak. Some of the below were not insured for example but we will always continue to support all travel no matter where it may be and assist with testing and response for all our Hotspot clients.”

UK – Suspected Covid – Telemedical video needed and PCR test couriered - £50

Senegal – positive for Covid repatriation requested – medical support through self-isolation – (unnecessary preferred repat quote were AA €130k, GA Senegal 9k, GA France €7,500)

UK  - Insured with Lupus self-isolating needed a prescription filled and couriered to him – No charge 

France – Suspected Covid – Telemedical video needed and PCR test couriered - £80

Columbia – 20 Spanish nationals private charter repatriation to Spain because commercial airspace closure - $165,831

Nigeria – Suspected Covid – Medical appointment proved minor cardiac event - £55

Netherlands - positive for Covid repatriation requested – medical support through self-isolation – (unnecessary preferred repat quote were AA €29,300 inc GA Holland, GA UK £700)

Algeria – Crew change O&G client (Charter 10 pax in, 8 pax out £34k, Ground transportation £2,110, PCR testing £950)

GhanaCrew change O&G client (Charter 66 pax in and out £137,758)

Botswana – Crew change O&G client (Charter 75 pax in and out £233,300)

Algeria – Crew change O&G client (Charter 62 pax in and out £40,941)

Various aviation charters across several remote site operations for essential client crew changes which needed PCR testing, ground transportation, aircraft and permissions because commercial airspace and borders closed

South Korea – Repatriation of 20 Chinese expats to lower Employers liability risk of Covid 

Sierra Leone – Covid positive patient in a medical facility needed communication help to get a medical report to understand and verify treatment plan.

UK (Orkney Islands) – Suspected Covid – Telemedical video needed and PCR test couriered - £156

DRC – Pneumonia developed into suspected Covid, hospital treatment $1,075

Germany – Covid test and 14 day quarantine support - €20

Indonesia – Covid test and 14 day quarantine information/support – No charge

Greece – Asymptomatic patient requesting a second - independent Covid PCR test after failing the random Covid test on arrival - €200

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