Mar 2015

Kiwis Unprepared for Medical Mishaps in Popular Holiday Destinations

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Kiwis are traveling underinsured to some of their most c popular travel spots including Ireland, Australia, the USA and the South Pacific. A local travel expert says New Zealand travellers are putting themselves at risk by visiting without adequate travel insurance to cover medical mishaps.

gipsbein im urlaubKiwis are underinsured for some of their most common holiday destinations, according to a local travel expert.

New Zealand travellers are putting themselves at risk in some popular travel spots including Ireland, Australia, the USA and the South Pacific by visiting without adequate travel insurance to cover medical mishaps.

A mistaken belief that a reciprocal health agreement with the UK and Australia will cover all medical costs, along with underestimating the expense of treatment in some countries, mean Kiwis often find themselves underinsured while on holiday, according to House of Travel’s Jo Wedlock.

“New Zealanders are typically a little blasé about booking travel insurance, particularly if they are planning to go somewhere close by such as Sydney or Fiji, or other destinations that are developed and English-speaking such as the States and the UK,” says Wedlock.

However, many Kiwis failed to realise that while a reciprocal health agreement does exist between New Zealand, the UK and Australia, several things are not covered that could add up to thousands of dollars in bills for the average traveller.

“While the UK does offer publicly funded services for visitors, the Republic of Ireland is not a part of the agreement, and that is a country where medical costs are high,” explains Will Ashcroft, from travel insurance underwriter Allianz.

“In Australia, many people don’t realise the cost of an ambulance is not covered by the reciprocal agreement. Depending on the state, the cost can exceed $1,000, and must be paid by the patient,” he adds.

“And while the agreement may cover some medical costs, there are some things it doesn’t pay for which often go hand-in-hand with an injury or medical issue overseas, including the cost of the trip if it is cancelled; lost, stolen or damaged items; travel delay; and medical cover during your journey to your destination.”

According to Wedlock, House of Travel customers were often shocked to learn how much a serious medical issue could cost in common destinations such as the South Pacific, Thailand and Bali.

“Because customers usually need to be repatriated for quality medical care, the costs of having a health emergency in these countries can be very high,” explains Wedlock. “People often think about this kind of thing if they are travelling to less common places such as Africa or more remote locations, but overlook the possibility of it happening closer to home.”

While the USA takes out the top spot for the destination with the largest single claim costs due to medical expenses, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, the South Pacific and Indochina, which encompasses Vietnam and Cambodia, all feature in the top ten.

“It’s important that people don’t underestimate how much those costs could be, and have a comprehensive travel insurance policy to cover what they might need in any given destination,” says Ashcroft.

“For example, in the United States a $100,000 limit on medical costs is not enough given the actual expense of treatment there, so you need to talk to your travel agent about ensuring your policy is appropriate for your plans.”

Wedlock recommends that travellers purchase a comprehensive policy as soon as they put money down on a trip, given that around 30% of claims occur even before a trip has started. “Think carefully about what you plan to do, and ensure you are covered for all of it so you can have an enjoyable and relaxing holiday.”

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Fleur Revell
Fleur Revell is one of the country’s most eminent PR consultants and public relations practitioners with more than 20 years industry experience behind her. Fleur is also a three times Qantas Media Awards winner and Feature Writer of the Year; and has an exceptional working knowledge of the New Zealand media landscape and its accelerating evolution in the digital age.
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