Medical woes no longer a pain in the wallet for travellers

Thursday , 19 March 2015 by Aimee Bourke

Southern Cross Travel Insurance is removing its $100 excess on TravelCare medical claims, and is now the only insurer in New Zealand to offer no medical excess as part of their standard policies.

Craig Morrison, SCTI CEO, says the company has built its business on what is best for customers and the move further entrenches that philosophy.

“If our customers are making a medical claim, it is quite likely the experience they went through overseas was a stressful one.”

12% of all SCTI claimants in the last half of 2014 called Emergency Assistance when travelling. 51% (or over 1,800) of those calls were medically related.

Morrison says, “From our point of view, when you consider that medical costs can easily run into the hundreds of thousands, $100 is a trivial amount. We simply believe that removing the excess, and therefore any additional stress, is the right thing to do.”

Morrison says removing the excess will hopefully ensure travellers who suffer minor ailments seek medical attention more promptly, to prevent a minor problem becoming a major and costly one.

SCTI research showed that over half of all Kiwi travellers have suffered from some sort of minor illness while abroad, the most common of these being a cold or flu (19%), traveller's diarrhoea (16%) and travel sickness (12%).

“We recently had a case where a coral cut wasn’t checked. It then got badly infected and cost $60,000 to fly the traveller home from Rarotonga via air ambulance,” says Morrison.

“Similarly, a traveller to Australia was hospitalised with a foot ulcer and cellulitis caused by a spider bite, which then required an upgrade to business class in order to have the foot elevated during the flight home.”

The removal of the excess will take effect from today. The cost of SCTI’s travel policies will remain the same.