New Zealanders travelling overseas are being reminded to keep their wits about them when it comes to the basics of road safety after a slew of accidents.
Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) has noted more claims this year from motor vehicle incidents, including several from travellers in Southeast Asia hit by cars as they were walking along the side of the road.
The World Health Organisation’s 2013 Global Status report on road safety found that only 28 countries - covering 7% of the world’s population - have comprehensive road safety laws on five key risk factors; drinking and driving, speeding and failing to use motorcycle helmets, seat beats and child restraints.
Craig Morrison, SCTI CEO, says that just because travellers are overseas, it doesn’t mean they should forget about the safety rules from their home country – or throw caution to the wind.
“I’m always astonished at the Kiwis who go on holiday and decide to hire a scooter or moped, having never ridden one before. Even experienced riders can fall off if they hit a pot hole or a stone in a gravel road – or a dog suddenly runs out – it’s no wonder absolute novices end up with sprains, grazes or worse after dropping the bike. ”
Though SCTI receives regular claims for accidents, there have only been two major motor accident cases this year. These were in Mexico and the US. One was for $167,000 and the other around $40,000. Thankfully both customers survived.
Rather than risk an injury ruining a holiday, if renting and driving a bike, car or van - Morrison recommends spending more time on lessons before hitting the roads.
He stresses that it’s crucial for travellers to carefully check their travel insurance policy to ensure they are covered for their activity – especially two-wheeled. For instance, while SCTI’s Travelcare policy allows for riding a moped or motorcycle with an engine capacity up to 200cc, it is a requirement to wear a helmet.
What really concerns Morrison is the lack of common sense among travellers who don’t follow basic safety precautions.
“If you’re on a bike, put a helmet on. If you’re in a car – even a taxi – put a seat belt on. We would rather pay a claim for someone who has bruised ribs than to have to arrange specialist medical care for head injuries or worse still - repatriation of a body.