Medical bills big issue when travelling abroad

Proportion of claims paid for the period ending 31 December 2010

• Medical and Evacuation Expenses – 55%
• Cancellation & Changes to Planned Journey22%
• Baggage & Personal Items – 19%
• Money & Travel Documents – 1%
• Personal Accident – 1%
• Personal Liability – Less than 1%
• Rental Car Excess – 2%

The most expensive claim came from traveller to the USA who incurred over $1 million in medical expenses alone. The top five claims all related to costs associated with traveller becoming critically ill while overseas.

The next highest amount of claims paid related to cancellation and changes to planned journeys. SCTI says recent weather events such as Cyclone Yasi have highlighted the importance of purchasing travel insurance at the time of booking. Once weather events such as these are no longer considered “unexpected”, it is too late to purchase insurance to cover for cancellations or rescheduling. Third on the claims list (at 19%) was for loss of baggage and personal items.

SCTI research estimates around one in four Kiwis heading overseas do not take out travel insurance. CEO Craig Morrison said this is surprising given the cost of travel insurance represents tiny fraction of the potential cost of becoming ill or injured abroad, even in countries with reciprocal healthcare arrangements such as the UK and Australia.

“In the US and Europe, medical costs can be astronomical – and that’s before you take into account the cost of evacuation. In many countries around the world, if an accident or health problem strikes you may also be left with hefty bill for air, boat or ambulance travel.”

For example, in Victoria, Australia, the fee for an ambulance call out starts at $920 and can rise into the thousands while helicopter ambulance fees in the state start at $3200.

Southern Cross Travel Insurance highest individual medical and evacuation claims in 2010
1) USA: $1,031,000
2) France: $273,000
3) USA: $249,000
4) USA: $168,000
5) Switzerland: $136,000



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