In the last year, Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) has paid out a number of medical evacuation claims including $95,000 for an evacuation from Samoa, $67,000 from Norfolk Island and a whopping $180,000 from New Caledonia.
Each year over 255,000 New Zealanders head to Pacific Islands to enjoy sun, sea and sand, but those that travel without insurance leave themselves vulnerable to expensive medical bills if something goes wrong.
Craig Morrison, SCTI CEO, says that while healthcare facilities in the islands are usually perfectly adequate for routine illnesses, the more serious medical emergencies result in evacuations to New Zealand or Australia. This is when travel insurance becomes invaluable.
“Southern Cross Worldwide Assistance manages cases that require medical evacuation and emergency transport by air ambulance on a regular basis and the cost of this starts at around$10,000 – but can escalate to more than ten times that.”
While medical evacuations are the costliest, Morrison says the most common claims SCTI receives from Pacific Island holidays result from:
Along with making certain they have travel insurance that covers them for the activities they are likely to do; Morrison says travellers to the islands should also take the time to pack a basic summer holiday first aid that includes sunscreen, insect repellent and antibacterial ointment.
He also warns tropical storms can play absolute havoc with travel schedules.
On average the South Pacific experiences 15 tropical cyclones each year. If travellers have taken out travel insurance prior to the notification of the storm they will be covered for expenses related to that event, disruptions or cancellations.