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The Highest Travel Insurance Claims of 2012


The Highest Travel Insurance Claims of 2012


Uninsured travellers are placing themselves at risk of medical costs in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, says travel insurance CEO.

Online travel insurer Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) has released its top 10 highest-value claims for 2012. The most expensive claims ranged from $54,000 to $208,000, and were all the result of Kiwi travellers suffering a serious or life-threatening medical problem while abroad.

The highest claim ($208,000) was from a New Zealander who incurred extensive medical bills while holidaying in the USA.

SCTI CEO Craig Morrison said the claim figures demonstrated the huge financial risks that uninsured travellers take.

Research of 4,400 travellers by TNS over the last financial year found that 31% of those surveyed did not take out insurance. Of the uninsured, 43% said they were “happy to risk not being covered” while 25% also said their reasons for not taking out travel insurance included “being covered by the country’s health system.”

Morrison said some people could be lulled into a “false sense of security” by the limited reciprocal healthcare agreements New Zealand holds with Australia and the UK.

“The fact is these agreements do not cover all costs that arise when an accident or emergency medical situation occurs – such as ambulance travel, medical support and flight costs for repatriation to New Zealand, or bringing a family member out to support you. For example, if you broke your arm in Australia and the break required a cast, you would also require a nurse to accompany you on the flight home in case of swelling that necessitated cast removal. This service alone would cost thousands of dollars for an uninsured traveller.”

Southern Cross Worldwide Assistance manages cases that require medical evacuation and emergency transport by air ambulance on a regular basis. They most often facilitate air ambulances to transport seriously ill travellers back to New Zealand from the Pacific Islands, where limited medical care is available - a cost which often exceeds $70,000.

“In July there was a highly publicised case where a Perth-based New Zealander travelling in Thailand incurred over $80,000 in medical and evacuation bills because his Australian travel insurance policy did not provide cover for injuries suffered while riding a scooter,” said Morrison.

“It is essential that travellers are careful to read their insurance policy, and understand what it does and, just as importantly, doesn’t cover them for. For example, many policies provide cover for skiing on designated runs in commercial ski areas, but they may not cover skiing off-piste. So if you decided to head into the back country and then broke your leg, you wouldn’t be covered for costs related to that accident.”

The most expensive medical-related claim received by SCTI in recent years was in 2010 when a traveller to the USA incurred over one million dollars in medical expenses after falling critically ill.

Ten highest claims for medical expenses and evacuation/repatriation costs in 2012

Amount Country where claim originated
1 $208,000 USA
2 $151,000 Mongolia
3 $114,000 Samoa
4 $110,000 Bali
5 $84,000 USA
6 $72,000 USA
7 $59,000 Fiji
8 $57,000 Thailand
9 $56,000 France
10 $54,000 Peru
ends

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