Medical emergencies top highest travel claims

Thursday , 16 April 2015 by Aimee Bourke

New Zealand’s largest online travel insurer Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) has released its highest value claims for 2014.

They are all medically related claims but for the first time they are not all attributed to New Zealanders travelling overseas.

SCTI’s other travel insurance policies which cater for international students, those visiting New Zealand and those living here but not a resident make up three of the large claims.

Craig Morrison, SCTI CEO, says not everyone qualifies for free treatment on the New Zealand public health system. Those that don’t have to pay out of their own pocket for medical care, which is why insurance is so important.

“New Zealand District Health Boards are forced to write off millions in debt from patients, mostly overseas visitors who had been treated in the regions’ hospitals.”

As well as our cash-strapped health system being out of pocket, Morrison says that the unpaid bills are sent to debt collectors and Immigration NZ is notified to make sure visas to re-enter the country aren't granted until the debts are paid.

“This can have long term ramifications for those that want to return or have extended family in New Zealand”, Morrison says.

“Medical incidents can happen to anyone, at any time, regardless of age and the trip duration. The cost of travel insurance is really just a tiny fraction of the costs that can result from these incidents.”