PBF cover in action

Two little words that can have a very big impact, especially if they result in your life being irrevocably changed. That’s precisely what happened to Craig – a freak kite surfing accident turned his life upside down, but thankfully he had an invaluable financial safety net in place.


Craig spent his working hours as a career firefighter risking his life to save others – and spent his downtime pursuing his passion for adventure motorbiking and kite surfing. The fun-loving 57-year-old was planning for an action-packed retirement and looking forward to spending even more time with his wife and daughters – and in his beloved garden. 


His plans changed one fateful morning in 2018 as he set out for a regular kite surf near Cottesloe beach in Perth, Western Australia. An experienced board-rider, Craig had taken to the skies at least three times a week for 15 years. On this occasion a freak gust of wind lifted him five metres into the air and violently shot him eight metres backwards into a sand dune. Craig fractured his spine and his spinal cord was severed, leaving him permanently paralysed.


Rushed to hospital, Craig underwent operations to insert steel rods in his back before five months in a specialist rehabilitation hospital learning how to navigate life as a paraplegic.


For people with spinal cord injuries, and their loved ones, the challenges are not just physical and emotional. Adapting to a new way of life can also be expensive. As Craig remembers, “all you want to do is come home”, but usually that home needs to undergo some serious modifications to make the return safe.


Faced with the costs of modifying his home and garden, Craig was grateful that he had arranged a family membership of the Paraplegic Benefit Fund (PBF) Australia. Any member who sustains a permanent spinal cord injury is eligible to claim PBF’s member benefit of $250,000 to help cover any immediate costs associated with the injury, as well as ongoing living, medical and rehabilitation expenses, including modifications to house and car.


EBM has been PBF Australia’s insurance broker for six years and worked with the fund and insurer, AIG, to give Craig fast access to the funds. The $250,000 benefit was approved and paid just five weeks after Craig’s accident, ensuring his modified home and garden would be ready for his return.


“Paraplegia and quadriplegia are among the most expensive chronic injuries a person can face,” said PBF Australia CEO Martin Browning.


“We have worked closely with EBM to identify suitable cover and to simplify the claims process so that benefit payments can be made as quickly after an injury as possible. This early payment can provide vital financial assistance so people can concentrate on their rehabilitation and return home as soon as possible.”


The PBF Australia benefit helped Craig purchase a new car and have it converted to hand controls so he could get back into the driver’s seat. The money also allowed him to seek private medical treatment for ongoing health issues to greatly enhance his quality of life and to take early retirement from DFES.


PBF Australia membership has proved a life-changer for Craig and his family and he encourages everyone to think about how they would manage if an unexpected spinal cord injury were to turn their lives upside down as it did his. How would they afford the home modifications, the accessible car, the mortgage, the school fees and all the other costs? PBF Australia membership means you can “have peace of mind knowing that if something happens, your family will be okay”.


Craig had planned to motorbike around Australia when he turned 60. Thanks to the support from PBF Australia, the intrepid adventurer is back making new plans involving a motor trike and a continued zest for life.


“The purpose of the member benefit is to provide early financial assistance, which is why we have worked with PBF Australia and AIG to streamline the claims process,” said Craig Goodwin, EBM Regional Director – Broking. 


“By ensuring that all the documentation needed is collected and completed prior to submitting a claim, the claim’s acceptance and payment is expedited. This has meant that claims can be received by EBM, lodged, accepted and paid into the claimant’s account promptly. This certainly takes the financial pressure off the family and particularly the injured party – exactly what PBF was set up to achieve.” 


PBF Australia membership packages are available for individuals, sporting clubs and corporates. There is also the option to insure an individual sporting event.  Find out more at www.pbf.asn.au


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