Brit holidaymaker blasts insurer AXA’s ‘shambolic’ response after suffering multiple injuries in horror St Lucia crash

21 December 2023, 07:21 | Updated: 21 December 2023, 07:59

Andrea was injured alongside her friend in a crash in St Lucia
Andrea Young was injured alongside her friend in a crash in St Lucia. Picture: Supplied/Alamy

By Asher McShane

A British holidaymaker has blasted her insurer, AXA Partners, for its response after she suffered multiple injuries in a crash on a dream trip to St Lucia.

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Holidaymaker Andrea Young and her friend had just arrived in St. Lucia for a one-week holiday when their minibus crashed head-on with a van en route from arrival at the airport to their hotel, leaving five people including the two women, seriously hurt.

The women were being driven in the minibus in the Vieux Fort area of the Caribbean island when it crashed with the van last Friday.

They both required urgent hospital treatment.

Both drivers, who were also injured, had to be cut free from the wreckage by firefighters. The van’s other occupants were also left needing treatment.

Ms Young suffered a broken leg, broken hand and "severe" facial injuries and had to be rushed to a local hospital - along with the others involved in the crash.

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She has been in a hospital on the island since then, while struggling to have her claim dealt with by AXA Partners, her insurer.

Her friend, who was with a different insurance company, was flown out of the country for treatment days ago, but Ms Young, who has a travel insurance policy with AXA Partners, is still there almost a week on, and has criticised the firm over the poor handling of her case.

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She told LBC she thought her insurer AXA Partners had “barely made an effort” since her accident and had kept her on the island for far longer than necessary.

As the treatment she needed was unavailable in St. Lucia, she was initially offered a flight to the Dominican Republic for treatment. 

Nick Ferrari speaks to Travel Correspondent Simon Calder

Ms Young told them she wanted to come home to the UK for treatment. 

She had been given a ‘fit to fly’ by the doctors in St. Lucia.  But insurance company AXA Partners, refused, saying treatment in the Dominican Republic was what was on offer, essentially refusing to get her home to the UK for treatment.

Ms Young’s family then spoke to LBC, as well as her local MP, and only then did AXA Partners finally offer a return to the UK, almost a week after the initial crash.

Once finally offered the specialist medical flight she needed out of St. Lucia to the UK, Ms Young endured further unnecessary days on her own in a St. Lucia hospital ward due to further hold-ups and delayed responses, which meant the deadline to confirm that flight was missed. 

She will now not be flown out of the country to go home until tomorrow - a full week after the crash.

Ms Young told LBC: “I’m just absolutely astonished that a multi-million pound company can be so careless and treat someone in this fashion. It feels like they’ve barely made an effort since my accident and it’s been horribly unprofessional.

“It’s been so terrible that I have to say something. All I want to do is go home, that’s all I ever wanted to do since it happened.

“They have put so many obstacles in the way. As a result, I will have spent a week here, the equivalent of my original holiday, in hospital.”

Andrea’s son accused the insurer of coming up with a ‘litany of excuses’ over their response.

Gus Young told LBC that AXA Partners had made things “harder than necessary at every venture.”

“We have our mother on the other side of the world, with a broken leg, a broken hand and severe facial injuries, just before Christmas.

“Her mental state is understandably deteriorating.”

“It’s been so stressful over the past few days and that has been largely down to their handling of the situation.

“Me and my siblings have spent hours on the phone to them and their hold machine trying to get answers and arrange her to come home instead of being flown somewhere else.

“We’ve had to fight them at every turn and it has made everything so much worse.

“No one wants their mum to be on her own for Christmas yet they didn’t seem to understand that. Thank god she is finally booked to come home, but it has not been easy.”

Travel reporter Simon Calder said: “In this case, I’ve briefly been in touch with this family and urged them to contact the British High Commission in St Lucia to try to get some help there.

“There’s a difference of opinion about how best to care for her, thank goodness the family is now happy, it’s just awful of course that it’s taken so long.

“But in general, I get many, many, many cases of people unhappy about travel insurance. It’s almost always because of a pre-existing medical condition they’ve forgotten to declare and the travel insurer is saying you’re not covered.”

He described their response as “shambolic” and said he planned to seek further compensation for the “duress” the family has had to go through.

An AXA Partners spokeswoman said: “We are very sorry to hear of Ms Young’s accident and we sympathise with her situation. Our priority is to ensure her swift and safe return to the UK.

“Repatriation involves significant logistical planning, balancing prompt action with the necessary medical considerations. We have been in regular contact with Ms Young throughout to keep her informed of the steps we are taking.”