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Crowdfunding not a substitute for travel insurance

27 February 2019

Uninsured Kiwi travellers shouldn’t expect crowdfunding campaigns, and the generosity of hardworking New Zealanders, to help foot the bill if they get into trouble while overseas, urges Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI).

The business has revealed its 10 most expensive medical claims from 2018, with the highest claim topping $261,000, as a reminder of the importance of travel insurance.

SCTI Chief Executive Chris White believes the advent of crowdfunding websites has led to an increasing reliance on them to substitute travel insurance.
“Travel insurance is accessible and affordable when you consider the cost of going overseas, so there’s no excuse to travel uninsured,” he says.

“While it’s awful to hear of Kiwis having an accident or falling ill overseas, it’s frustrating to see crowdfunding pages set up afterwards when it was obvious that travel insurance could have covered the cost.”

Previous SCTI research[1] showed 61% of New Zealanders believe it is unacceptable for uninsured travellers to seek public funding for an overseas accident or medical emergency. However, the research found one in six Kiwis still travelled uninsured.

“As the saying goes, ‘if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel,’” White says.

Many foreign hospital systems, such as some US states, will require up-front payments before they start providing treatment. This can be particularly problematic for someone who doesn’t have insurance.

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“On top of covering the costs of treatment, reputable travel insurers will have a 24-hour emergency assistance team that can coordinate medical treatment or evacuation, keep family members informed, provide payment guarantees and help with language barriers,” he says.

[1] Southern Cross survey conducted by TNZ in October 2016 on 2,007 randomly selected New Zealanders.

10 claims illustrating the value of travel insurance:

Estimated cost (NZD)*EventWhere it happenedCustomer age
$261,000Surgery for a brain tumour, required air ambulance transfer. Returned home in business class once fit to fly.Europe50s
$212,000Hospitalised for a heart attack, which required a cardiac artery bypass. Travelled home in business class.US60s
$204,500Hospitalised for cardiac arrest.US40s
$168,000Admitted to hospital twice for a severe leg laceration. Returned home with a nurse escort.China70s
$136,000Transported to hospital via helicopter forabscesses. Returned home in business class.US30s
$134,000Hospitalised for chronic heart failure, which required cardiac valve surgery. Returned home in business class.US70s
$130,000Surgery for a twisted bowel and returned home in business class.Europe60s
$129,500Returned home with two nurses after a stroke.Europe80s
$116,000Surgery for appendicitis.USPre-teen
$114,000Transferred with a doctor escort to another country for surgery after a heart attack. Required cardiac artery bypass and returned home in business class.Southeast Asia70s

*The costs are estimates based on the status of each claim at 31 January 2019. The figures may increase or decrease, as the claim progresses. The claims are paid in varying currencies so the figures have been converted using the relevant exchange rate in mid-January 2019.

© Scoop Media

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