Injured traveler urges international travelers to buy insurance - KMSP-TV

Minn. man injured in 50-foot fall overseas: Buy international insurance

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Sunglasses? Check. Sunblock? Check. Health coverage? A man who fell four stories while on a trip to the Bahamas says international medical insurance is a must for anyone traveling abroad.

Andy Roehrs is still fighting to save his legs after a trip to the Bahamas in October took a turn for the worse.

"We were in the Bahamas for my best friend's wedding," Roehrs recalled. "I was supposed to be his best man."

Now, his life may never be the same after his trip turned into a nightmare no one would ever want to experience on an island.

"I thought it was a bad dream," Roehrs admitted. "We went down, saw the beach, had some dinner, went down for a couple cocktails and some dancing and hit the casino for a couple hours -- and the next thing I remember, I was waking up on the ground."

Roehrs believes he was sleepwalking in delirium when he fell four and a half stories -- a 50-foot drop -- from the balcony of his hotel room.

"I had a compound fracture of my left leg through the skin, and my right knee was completely dislocated," he said.

Without traveler's insurance, Roehrs found himself in a major bind. He required a medical evacuation because they wouldn't put him on a commercial flight.

"I didn't even see my legs until I got to the states because I couldn't sit up," he said. "I also had back damage as well."

Now, Roehrs is focusing on making a full recovery, but there is no timeline in sight for when he might be able to walk again. He said his story serves as a reminder that it is imperative to have international medical insurance before traveling overseas.

Susan Jackson, director of student health benefits at the University of Minnesota, echoed the importance of obtaining coverage.

"If I encounter someone that is going abroad that is without coverage -- or knowing that even a lot of employer-sponsored plans will not cover those types of services, I would strongly encourage them to get that," she said.

Roehrs said he has certainly learned his lesson.

"I don't have anything to pay the bills and I want to get back to work," he said.

Friends and family members plan to host a benefit to help Roehrs, and he hopes his story will help others.

"I would highly recommend it," he said. "I will always get it from here on out. If you're going to travel international, you better have traveler's insurance."

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