Conflict zone insurance proves crucial for freelancer

Current and former conflict zones hold a particular danger to the freelancers who head there to document the lives of those affected by war.

French photojournalist “Claude” was well aware of this fact, having spent 15 years travelling across sub-Saharan Africa and telling the stories of the people caught up in violent regional clashes.

Having arrived in the Central African Republic (CAR) just two days earlier, the freelancer had already wrapped up a shoot with local people in the country’s dangerous north-west.

Claude and his local fixer “Henri” packed the kit back into the four-by-four they had rented for the trip and set off back down the dusty and pitted roads towards the nearest town – and their hotel for the night – 100-odd kilometres away.

They didn’t make it. Their overturned vehicle was discovered by a passing motorcyclist a few kilometres away from its destination – the tell-tale signs of a sudden swerve etched into the dry red dirt nearby.

Claude was unconscious when he was found, while Henri was awake but bleeding from several lacerations picked up as he was thrown from the vehicle. The pair were taken to the nearest hospital where doctors worked to stabilise their conditions.

Having travel medical insurance specifically geared towards conflict zones or politically volatile countries meant help was on hand.

battleface Insurance, upon learning of the accident, immediately instructed Tangiers International to handle the medical case management.

Tangiers provides crisis response services to Battleface – liaising directly with medical professionals to ensure there are no obstacles to assessment and treatment or arranging medical evacuation if necessary.

In this case, it was necessary. Although Henri’s injuries could be treated in country, Claude had been left feeling disorientated and had reported memory loss – symptoms of possible brain damage which would require more advanced diagnostic capabilities than were available in his present location.

Tangiers’ agent began to arrange for his medical evacuation to Nairobi, Kenya, where any damage to his brain could be adequately assessed.

The first priority was ensuring he could be moved safely. Consulting directly with doctors, the agent ensured there were no further injuries which would impede travel.

Behind the scenes, Tangiers also made sure all immigration issues were settled so that Claude’s arrival in Nairobi would not be delayed by red tape.

With the go-ahead given across the board, a land ambulance was dispatched to take Claude from the hospital to the nearest airport, where a medically-equipped plane was waiting to take off.

Under the supervision of medical professionals, the Frenchman was flown to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, where another land ambulance was waiting to transport him to one of the country’s best hospitals.

On hand during the entire operation was Tangiers’ local agent – able to offer reassurance to Claude while overseeing the logistics of crossing international borders and liaising with medical staff in two countries.

Following tests, it was determined that Claude had suffered particularly severe concussion in the accident. He was monitored for several days before being discharged.

Freelancer insurance meant that Claude had the support and expertise of travel medical professionals when he really needed it.