New Zealand’s largest online travel insurer Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) has released its highest-value claims for 2014.
1. $405,000 - surgery required for cancer in the USA.
2. $365,000 - air evacuation after a brain bleed and heart attack in North America.
3. $285,000 - blood clot while travelling caused a cardiac arrest on a plane, admitted to hospital in the US.
4. $236,000 - a tourist visiting New Zealand suffered a stroke requiring extensive hospitalisation and rehabilitation and transport to home country by air ambulance.
5. $193,000 - suffered a stroke in Europe, required air ambulance.
6. $177,000 - fell from a roof and fractured several leg bones in the USA.
7. $122,000 - family member of an international student diagnosed with cancer.
8. $120,000 - hit by a motorcycle in South East Asia.
9. $112,000 - heart attack while visiting New Zealand, required surgery and rehabilitation.
10. $105,000 - accidental fall resulting in broken bones in Europe.
They are all medically related 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 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 and 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 region’s 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."