Travel insurer Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) has released its 10 highest-value claims for 2013 - all for medical costs as a result of accidental injuries and medical emergencies.
Craig Morrison, SCTI CEO, says any requirement for medical attention overseas can quickly add up and highlights that those who travel without insurance are extremely vulnerable to a large unpaid financial liability.
“The reality is that unfortunate incidents can happen to anyone, at any time, regardless of the trip duration. The cost of travel insurance is really just a tiny fraction of the costs that can result from these incidents.”
For example, Morrison says that sometimes hospitals in the USA request a deposit of up to $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 your travel insurer’s emergency assistance number.
Southern Cross Worldwide Assistance, for example, can co-ordinate emergency medical evacuation, keep your family advised of your situation and, in these cases, provide payment guarantees to hospitals or emergency clinics for qualifying claims.”
Where practical, Morrison also advises travellers to carry a copy of their travel insurance policy and to programme the emergency assistance number into their phones.
“Once a person has suffered a medical event, SCTI monitors their progress with a view to stabilising their condition, and then deciding whether to continue treatment overseas, repatriate back to New Zealand, or continue on with their travels without further medical complications. Travellers are frequently brought back in business class, as many cases require additional space for the person to be able to fully extend, particularly those that have had recent surgery or a lower limb injury.”
There are also occasions where a stretcher will be placed in the rear of a commercial flight from Los Angeles or San Francisco to repatriate the insured home.