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The high cost of an overseas medical emergency

The high cost of an overseas medical emergency

New research from Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) has revealed that Kiwis are unaware of the astronomical costs that come with a medical emergency overseas.

• 53% of those surveyed thought a broken bone would cost under $10,000 to be treated in America. In reality, this cost can range between $40,000 - $150,000.

• 46% of those surveyed thought it would cost under $100,000 to charter an emergency flight from LA to Auckland. This can actually range between $150,000 - $200,000.

• 34% of those surveyed thought a medically necessary upgrade to business class (for someone with a broken leg) from Singapore to Auckland would cost under $2,500. The actual cost can range between $5,000 - $10,000.

“The amounts people think overseas medical treatment and repatriation will cost pale in comparison to some of the claims we receive every year,” says Southern Cross Travel Insurance CEO, Craig Morrison.

To highlight the difference between perception and reality, SCTI has released their top ten medical claims made by Kiwi travellers in the last year.
Amount What happened Where it happened
$561,400 Encephalitis – required an air ambulance home. Africa
$374,000 Diverticulitis – required hospitalisation and an upgraded flight home. USA
$362,000 Car accident – required an air ambulance home. China
$360,000 Arterial haemorrhage – required 12 days in hospital. USA
$262,000 Cardiac issue which needed investigating – required an air ambulance home. China
$260,000 A fall from a cliff, resulting in a brain bleed – required an air ambulance home. Indonesia
$235,400 Coronary artery problems – required three days in hospital. USA
$212,000 Pneumonia and a heart attack – required over two months in hospital. South Africa
$208,000 Gallstone complications – required three days in hospital and a non-medical escort home. USA
$206,000 Hip injury due to a fall at the beach – required six days in hospital and repatriation. USA

“Hospital costs in the USA are incredibly high, sometimes seemingly without rationale or justification” says Morrison.

“Injuring yourself almost anywhere in the world could hurt both physically and financially. When you compare this to the cost of a travel insurance policy, the price of travel insurance is insignificant.

“Despite 31% of those surveyed needing medical assistance while travelling, 17% of Kiwi travellers still choose to travel without insurance.”

Another aspect of travel insurance that helps out accident-prone travellers is Southern Cross Emergency Assistance.

Emergency Assistance can co-ordinate emergency medical evacuation, keep your family advised of your situation, and in cases where deposits are required, provide payment guarantees to hospitals or emergency clinics for qualifying claims.

“Kiwis love to travel and while the last thing on most people’s minds is falling ill or getting hurt, unfortunately it can and does happen,” says Morrison. “Although the vast majority of mishaps are not serious, a significant amount need medical treatment. Bills can add up quickly and Kiwis are at risk of running into hot water if they travel uninsured.”


Notes to editor.

The Southern Cross Travel Insurance survey was conducted by TNS online on 2,000 randomly selected New Zealanders and was released in November 2016.

You may also be interested in the top ten non-medical claims made by New Zealand travellers.
Amount What happened
$17,200 Airline lost customer’s suitcase when travelling from LA to Auckland. Suitcase contained designer clothing and accessories.
$14,900 Additional expenses incurred due to Mt Raung volcano affecting travel in Bali.
$12,800 Road accident caused massive traffic delays and customers missed flights.
$11,100 Additional expenses incurred due to Mt Raung volcano affecting travel in Bali.
$11,000 Antarctic cruise interrupted by bad weather.
$10,949 A customer’s bag and contents (tech gadgets, clothing, makeup) were stolen during a bus trip in Germany.
$10,600 Customers were due to travel to Japan for a wedding, which was then cancelled.
$9,900 A customer lost a diamond ring while travelling in Cuba.
$9,800 Additional expenses incurred due to Mt Rinjani eruption affecting travel in Bali.
$9,700 Additional expenses incurred due to Mt Raung volcano affecting travel in Bali.

All figures are from the last calendar year. In 2016, over 300,000 Kiwis travelled with Southern Cross Travel Insurance.


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