News

Pre term babies now covered by travel insurer if born overseas

Wednesday, 11 August 2021 by Alaina McGregor

Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) is believed to be the first travel insurer in New Zealand to cover the cost of childbirth and neo-natal care of an extremely pre-term baby* delivered overseas, up until the time both mother and child can safely return home1.

When it comes to pregnancy cover, if a customer goes into early pre-term labour while travelling internationally, it’s common for travel insurers to only pay the medical expenses for the mother but they won’t necessarily cover the costs related to the birth itself or the ongoing care of the newborn (within the terms and conditions of their policy). 

SCTI has also extended the cover for costs or losses related to pregnancy from a gestation period of up to 20 weeks to up to 24 weeks**. 

Chief Medical Officer of Southern Cross’ Health Insurance business, Dr Stephen Child, said medical and technology advances mean the chances of premature babies surviving is improving.

“Babies born at 20 weeks are unlikely to survive, but the survival rate for those born at 23 to 24 weeks increases to nearly 60 per cent. However, there are many medical challenges that can come with such an early delivery,” said Dr Child.

In New Zealand, the mean length of a hospital stay for babies born at 20-23 weeks is approximately 60 days2, because they require a high level of hospital care and follow-up.

SCTI Chief Executive Jo McCauley said extending its pregnancy cover is another way the leading travel insurer is committed to giving customers peace of mind when travelling.

“For anyone, a pre-term delivery is distressing, but this can be even more difficult if it happens for a very pre-term baby whilst overseas. The changes we have made to our pregnancy cover can help to provide reassurance that the costs of medical care for the mother are covered in addition to the costs for the newborn who is likely to need a significant level of extended care at birth. 

“Babymoons have become a popular type of holiday for expectant parents but it’s important to check your travel insurance policy to see exactly what you’re covered for. Medical costs for a pregnant traveller going into pre-term labour on holiday have been expensive with the final bill totalling hundreds of thousands of dollars. This would clearly put extreme pressure on the parents at what will already be a very traumatic time.

“For pregnant women wanting to travel by air, it’s always important to check with your airline regarding any policies they have around when pregnant women can travel, and of course, your GP or midwife can provide guidance on the safety of travel at different gestation periods or based on individual circumstances,” said McCauley.

SCTI’s pregnancy cover is available under its TravelCare policy which has just been launched in plain language. 

“Making sure our customers have clarity on what they’re covered for in their insurance policies has always been important. While we believe our policies are already well written and clear to understand, we’ve gone one step further to have these policies awarded the WriteMark,” added McCauley.

“This is an independent endorsement awarded to documents that achieve a high standard of plain language, making them easy to read, understand and act on. It signals our commitment to being clear and open, and that we care about our customers and their needs.”

*Up until the 24th week of gestation (the first 23 weeks and 6 days).

**Gestational age is measured in weeks and days from the first day of your last menstrual period or from staging ultrasound.

***If a traveller has any known pre-existing medical conditions relating to pregnancy (for example pre-eclampsia), these will not be covered unless the customer declares these and selects the additional cover as part of the standard pre-existing medical declaration process.


ENDS

[1] SCTI pregnancy cover is available under TravelCare policy only.

[2]  Source: gestational age from Ministry of Health maternity dataset.

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