Holiday ordeals send warning

Last updated 05:00 15/06/2014

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The three largest travel claims in the first quarter of 2014 by insurer Southern Cross show just why travelling overseas without insurance is a risky thing to do.

In the first three months of the year, 70,219 people travelled with SCTI policies, and the biggest three claims over that quarter were all for medical crises suffered by policyholders overseas.

While travel insurance pays for the likes of lost cameras and cancelled flights, its real benefit is in enabling people to get medical treatment when bad things happen to them while away from home.

The most costly of the three treatments was a $167,000 claim by a person hit by a car in Mexico who suffered multiple fractures which required an air ambulance to Los Angeles for treatment.

The second most expensive was a $91,000 claim for a cyclist who fainted after a long ride in France, breaking ribs and damaging her kidneys.

And some $76,500 was paid out for someone who was hospitalised with appendicitis in the United States.

Craig Morrison, SCTI CEO, said unfortunate incidents can happen to anyone on an overseas trip and the costs of medical treatment can be steep.

US hospitals, for example, may not even begin treatment unless deposits of up to $10,000 are paid by patients or their loved ones.

Insurers can also help co-ordinate emergency medical evacuation, keep family advised and, if needed, pay deposits and make guarantees to hospitals or emergency clinics for qualifying claims.

Only two of the three highest claims would have made it onto the list of the top 10 claims in 2013, which included $245,000 paid out for an aortic aneurysm while travelling in the US and $234,000 to a policyholder helicoptered to a larger hospital in Europe with bleeding and water on the brain.

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- Sunday Star Times

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