Travel can be more expensive than many people realise – especially when things go wrong.
Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) has revealed the extent of some claims it has received recently, including the highest-ever paid claim received. Aussie travellers are finding themselves facing hefty medical bills after needing to seek medical care abroad.
In 2016, SCTI paid out the highest-ever paid claim received in Australia in the company’s history – over AUD 1.3 million for a single claim. A customer needed to be evacuated from Southeast Asia by air ambulance for medical treatment.
SCTI chief executive, Craig Morrison, says the cost of any requirement for medical care overseas and repatriation back home can quickly add up. Those costs indicate how foolhardy and vulnerable any traveller is who ventures overseas without adequate travel insurance.
“The reality is that unfortunate incidents can happen to anyone, at any time, regardless of how cautious a traveller you are,” Morrison said.
As an example, Morrison says that some hospitals in the USA will request a deposit of up to as much as USD 10,000 before they will even start providing treatment.
“This is one of the key areas where having travel insurance is really important, as we can try to help eliminate the need to pay this deposit. If you end up in a US hospital and are asked to pay, you should immediately call our emergency assistance team who will negotiate with the hospital on your behalf.”
A case last year, involving an Australian who wasn’t insured, happened in Thailand. A traveller heading to an upmarket beach resort for a family wedding presumably thought travel insurance wasn’t necessary for what seemed a routine event in a safe destination. Before the wedding, the Aussie went for a casual stroll on the beach – where he was attacked and trampled by a young, runaway elephant, causing major injuries and requiring evacuation to Australia at enormous expense.
Other insurance cases to have made the files of various companies in previous years include a woman who walked into the propeller of a light aircraft on a remote Fijian island and a man who suffered a heart attack on a ship in the Mediterranean. Doctors speak of the golfer struck by lightning in Hawaii – not to mention the traveller in Vietnam, incapacitated by unhygienic shards of porcelain that pierced his nether regions when a toilet bowl disintegrated beneath him.
SCTI has released its top 10 medical claims made by Aussie travellers in 2016. Figures are in Australian dollars:
|Claim amount||Country||What happened|
|$1,328,000||Southeast Asia||Insured suffered an illness|
|$122,000||North America||Insured fell over|
|$114,000||Southeast Asia||Insured suffered an illness|
|$105,000||North America||Insured had a mountain bike accident|
|$98,000||Southeast Asia||Insured had a bicycle accident|
|$72,000||Africa||Insured had a motor vehicle accident|
|$70,000||North America||Insured suffered an illness|
|$67,000||East Asia||Insured fell off bunk bed|
|$67,000||Europe||Insured fell over|
|$66,000||East Asia||Insured suffered an illness|
Written by Peter Needham