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Member stories

Yvonne and Roger

Having lived in Malawi for 45 years, Yvonne and Roger have become two of our most valued and best-known members. After Roger suffered a stroke in April 2019, William Russell arranged a medical evacuation to ensure he received the best possible treatment in South Africa.

This page is part of our member story series, in which we interview expats who’ve purchased a plan with us. You can learn more about their experience of William Russell and the service you can expect from us if you decide to become a member.

Yvonne and Roger - William Russell Member Stories
Yvonne and Roger

Meet Yvonne and Roger

Yvonne, who is originally from the Netherlands, and Roger from Great Britain moved to Malawi over 40 years ago.

As a teacher at an international school, Yvonne was recommended an expatriate health insurance policy with William Russell through her employer, which covered both her and her husband.

For most of the time that she held this policy with us, Yvonne thought nothing of it.

Airlifted to safety after a stroke

Everything changed when she returned home from work one day to discover her husband, Roger, was having a stroke.

I didn’t really know who to ring. When somebody is having a stroke in your house, you don’t really know what to do – especially when you know there’s no hospital you would want to go to.

So, I contacted a friend, who was a nurse at the local clinic. She got here quickly, then called a doctor. Before I knew it, they were saying ‘get the Medevac going, just do whatever needs to be done’.”

Three years later, Roger is now well on the road to recovery. We reached out to hear how the couple are doing – and we’re pleased to hear how William Russell’s international health insurance played a part in saving Roger’s life.

When somebody is having a stroke in your house, you don’t really know what to do – especially when you know there’s no hospital you would want to go to.

The journey to South Africa

Roger was given a Medevac, short for a Medical Evacuation.

This is when a person is given emergency transportation to another country. It is especially vital in situations where people experience health episodes far away from adequate care facilities, or when they live in countries that have under-developed healthcare systems.

In Roger’s case, he was airlifted 1,000 miles from Malawi to South Africa via private plane. On board the light aircraft were medical staff who helped to treat Roger while he was in the air. Yvonne also travelled alongside her husband and was able to describe the journey.

At 4am we were picked up and taken to the airport in an ambulance, and a team of people came from a little clinic and took over Roger’s care.

He was bundled up and put on a proper medical bed, and was given medication to stop his blood clotting. It was all very efficient.

On arrival in South Africa, Roger was taken directly to intensive care, where he spent two weeks before being moved to a high care unit. Roger’s road to recovery was a long one – he spent a further 5 weeks in the hospital, followed by 6 weeks in a rehabilitation facility.

The William Russell difference

Thanks to Yvonne’s comprehensive international health insurance policy with William Russell, we were able to cover the cost of Roger’s life-saving journey and subsequent hospital treatment, plus 2 weeks of Roger’s rehab, a new wheelchair and even the cost of Yvonne’s flight home from South Africa.

Better still, Yvonne was able to access funds from her insurance policy with no hassle. This was because she was put in direct contact with her personal claims manager at William Russell, Cosmina.

I never thought I would be dealing directly with someone personally looking after our claim,” said Yvonne. “But it worked, and it was wonderful.

If Cosmina hadn't heard off me in a few days, she'd send a little message asking how we were doing, and that she hoped everything was going well.

Yvonne and Cosmina kept up regular contact for 4 months via WhatsApp and email. This helped the pair build up a relationship, which Yvonne says made a big difference.

I would ask a question and she would come back straight away,” Yvonne explained. “And if she hadn’t heard from me in 3 or 4 days she’d send a little message asking how we were doing, that she hoped everything was going well.

Cosmina helped Yvonne understand her policy wording and was quick to reassure Yvonne about what she was entitled to receive as a William Russell member. Like all our claims managers, Cosmina’s job was not to focus on cutting costs, but on doing everything she could to ensure the best possible treatment for Roger.

I felt really, really supported, being able to write an email and knowing the person I sent it to was the one who would read and reply to it,” Yvonne said.

Cosmina Gradinaru
International Claims Executive

Roger’s road to recovery

Before being given a health insurance policy with William Russell, Yvonne had relied on big-name insurers to cover her and her husband’s expatriate insurance. But after her experience with our highly personalised service, Yvonne feels very comfortable and secure with William Russell.

Roger has had no more difficulties and as little medication as possible, so he’s pretty steady at the moment.

And how is Roger doing? “Everything is getting so much better at home,” Yvonne told us. “He’s had no more difficulties and as little medication as possible, so he’s pretty steady at the moment.”

We try to stay active – we walk, we swim, we go out. We see friends, and Roger is speaking more now.

Would you recommend William Russell?

We asked Yvonne what she would tell people about William Russell…

I feel appreciated for being a member for so many years,” she told us. “And now that I’ve retired, I’ve even been given a discount on my health insurance package, which I’m grateful for.”

I’m very grateful for Cosmina as well. She gave me really great advice, which helped me to reduce my annual payments.

As a final point, Yvonne proudly tells us that she has recommended William Russell to her fellow expatriate teachers at the International School – with many people taking her up on her advice.

We’re very proud to have Yvonne as a member and look forward to welcoming her friends.

Could William Russell international insurance be right for you too?

If, like Yvonne and Roger, you want an expatriate insurance provider with a personal touch – whether for international health insurance, life insurance or income protection insurance – and if you want to work with a company with 30 years’ experience and a human being waiting for you at the end of the phone, speak to us at William Russell.

We are a proudly family-owned business insuring expatriates in over 180 countries. Our hand-picked network of 40,000 hospitals and clinics around the world ensures you’ll always be offered the best quality medical care, no matter where in the world you are. And, your claim will always be handled by your personal claims manager, who is available round-the-clock should you need them for help, advice, or just friendly reassurance.

I feel appreciated for being a member for so many years!

How much does international health insurance cost?

With international health insurance, you can choose between our Bronze, SilverLite, Silver, and Gold plans.

The Bronze plan is an economic option that provides the full minimum level of cover for most countries, including such things as hospital treatment, cancer treatment, and medical evacuations.

Silver and SilverLite offer the same, but with full outpatient treatment and the choice of either a private or shared hospital room. Our highest-level Gold plan includes a suite of extra services, from mental health to maternity care.

To give you an idea on cost, the table below shows examples based on different circumstances across our range of plans:





About you
International student
Digital nomad
Solo experienced professional
Mature family with kids
Avg monthly cost
Included as standard
  • Semi-private room & post hospital treatment
  • Cancer treatment
  • Medevac
  • Mental health
  • Semi-private room & treatment
  • Cancer treatment
  • Medevac
  • Standard out-patient up to US$5,000
  • Physiotherapy
  • Private hospital care
  • Cancer treatment
  • Medevac
  • Outpatient treatment
  • Mental health treatment up to US$75,000 per lifetime
  • Wellness & vaccinations
  • Complementary therapies
  • Private hospital care
  • Cancer treatment
  • Medevac
  • Outpatient treatment
  • Mental health treatment up to US$100,000 per lifetime
  • Wellness & vaccinations
  • Routine dental
  • Maternity
  • Accidental death benefit
  • Cancer critical illness benefit

See our full plan description here – and if you need anything explained, feel free to contact us.

Want to find out more about international health insurance?

Learn more about our plans