70 year old Rich Jones from New South Wales has been a Blue Badge Insurance customer for three years. He lives with a condition called Functional Neurological Disorder (FND), which makes him heavily reliant on his mobility scooter. Rich was involved in a mobility scooter crash in January – a traumatic event that saw him taken away in an ambulance.
Blue Badge Insurance handled his claim with hands-on, compassionate service. Here’s his story.
In this article
A serious condition
Rich is diagnosed with the medical condition Functional Neurological Disorder (FND), which was caused by severe child abuse. With FND, patients experience neurological symptoms that aren’t explained by traditional neurological diseases or other medical diagnoses.
These symptoms can include:
- Motor or movement symptoms such as weakness, tremors, gait disturbances, or movement disorders.
- Sensory symptoms including numbness or altered sensations.
- Dissociative symptoms such as non-epileptic seizures, which can resemble epileptic seizures but aren’t caused by electrical disruptions in the brain.
- Cognitive symptoms including problems with memory, concentration, or other cognitive functions.
FND is an invisible disability – meaning there are no outward signs to show that someone has it. Rich’s FND is episodic, meaning he lives with it permanently, but his symptoms come in episodes.
“I read online that it causes movement disorders like multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease does, but it doesn’t have the body degeneration of those two,” he says. “So when I’ve had an episode it’s like mending the fuse again and I’m back to normal.”
Rich received treatment for his FND from a psychiatrist and eventually he had to seek help from a neurologist. It took him three months to find someone who works with the condition and understands the signs.
What happens during an FND episode?
As mentioned above, FND can cause several symptoms, but for Rich it causes complete and utter immobility – though he remains cognisant and can still hear.
“It can happen in a second,” he explains. “I can collapse on the footpath or at home. I just go out like a light and lose everything but my hearing. This includes my limb functions – my arms and legs can go – and my eyes close so I can’t see. I can’t speak or if I can speak, I’m very slurred like I’m drunk.”
Though he’ll collapse, he’ll still be aware of what’s happening around him. Rich says that due to the frequency of these episodes his local paramedics know him and about his condition.
“When the paramedics come they lift me up, put me on the ambulance bed and take me to hospital where they put me into bed,” he says. “And then they just watch the episode progress and pass.”
Rich’s speech will slowly come back and he’ll be able to open his eyes again. Rich says these episodes may be caused by overexerting himself physically or mentally. He also suffers from psychogenic non epileptic seizures, which causes his arms to convulse.
For this reason, he’s heavily reliant on his Envoy 4 mobility scooter and must be watched at all times by a carer. Rich is cared for by his wife of 44 years, Ann, and a relief carer provided to him by government programme My Aged Care.
The mobility scooter crash
Rich’s FND episodes can be extremely distressing, which is why the recent scooter accident he was involved in was doubly stressful.
Rich was at a traffic light controlled intersection with Ann when the incident happened. The light had gone green and he was three-quarters of the way across the road when a car that was turning right jumped the light – crashing into the front of his scooter.
“I was hit on the front of the scooter and my left wheel bent in a 45 degree angle,” Rich says. “The axle that holds the two drive wheels together was bent as well.”
Luckily, Rich wasn’t physically injured, but the extreme stress of the event set off an FND episode. As the driver came back to talk to them, Rich started to pass out and Ann called an ambulance.
Repairs after the mobility scooter crash
Rich recovered in hospital from this particular episode, but his scooter was now unusable.
On top of that, to be fixed it required specialised parts from the manufacturer he had purchased it from. Luckily, Rich has comprehensive mobility scooter insurance through Blue Badge Insurance; he says the team went above and beyond to action his claim.
“I contacted Blue Badge, and I can’t remember who I spoke to on the first call but they were really excellent in their call. I felt comfortable because they already knew I had a disability,” says Rich. “That made life a lot easier.”
Rich says they had a lot of trouble with the scooter manufacturer who had to do the repairs. It took their service technicians 6 weeks to come out and assess the scooter – and all that time Rich was unable to go out at all besides being driven by his carer in a car.
Despite the manufacturer sending someone to straighten the scooters axel so that Rich could use it again, it would take another 9 months for them to completely fix it.
Blue Badge handles the mobility scooter crash claim
After the mobility scooter crash, Rich says he felt supported and fully taken care of by Blue Badge Insurance.
“Blue Badge was just incredible. Because I have FND, I can’t think and process anymore and can’t write. I have very little reading power,” he explains.
With compassion and commitment, the Blue Badge team – in particular Sales and Service Manager Grant Davidson – guided him through the entire process and simplified it as much as possible.
“I had a lot of confidence in talking to Blue Badge because they all knew I have a disability. Rather than talking to another business that wouldn’t know this,” says Rich. “That was really important for me and is the benefit of having specialised insurance – you have people who understand your condition and know how to help you in the best way.”
Ensure your independence
Rich is happy to have his scooter – and a big part of his independence – back.
“To anyone with mobility equipment, make sure that you’re insured, and for that I’d recommend Blue Badge Insurance,” he says. “If something happens like a mobility scooter crash, you can go straight to your insurer and say ‘this is my situation so can you help me?'”
Having specialised insurance over insuring your mobility equipment through, say, your home contents cover, means you’ll have the peace of mind knowing you’re dealing with a company with experience in handling these types of claims.
“I could never have managed all the issues without dear Grant and the team. They are so very wonderful in every regard and very valued,” says Rich.
Blue Badge Insurance is Australia’s first disability and independence insurance specialist. We understand your unique needs and challenges, so we offer cost-effective, quality insurance solutions from wheelchair insurance and mobility scooter insurance to disability car insurance and car insurance for wheelchair accessible vehicles and disability converted cars.
Plus, with our insurance cover you’ll get a discount of up to 25% with a disability parking permit. We’re all about supporting Australians living with disability like Rich. Why not get a quote today?