The most expensive countries for New Zealanders to fall ill

Italy ranked third out of the top 10 most expensive countries for Kiwi travellers in terms of medical-related insurance claims. Photo: Langhe vineyards, Piedmont, Italy.

It’ll come as no shock that the US sits at the top of the list, but some of the other countries may surprise you …

As we approach the final holiday season of 2019 – and we’re sure that some of you have already got your feet up – there’s no doubt that a fair few people are hoping to fit a spot of travelling in. And so it is that New Zealand-based Southern Cross Travel Insurance’s (SCTI) latest figures shed a well-timed spotlight on the 10 most expensive countries for Kiwi travellers in terms of medical-related insurance claims.

Let’s jump right in. The US took the top spot as the most expensive country – based on claims placed between 1 October 2018 and 30 September 2019, the most expensive was NZ$370,000, for a 77-year-old who fell ill on a cruise ship in the US and had to be transferred to hospital. The individual was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and underwent surgery to replace an aortic valve.

Australia came in second, and third was Italy – compounded by a particular case in which a 70-year-old cruise ship passenger made a claim for $123,764 after falling ill and having to be transferred to hospital for bowel surgery.

Taking the fourth, fifth and sixth spots were Israel, the UK and China respectively, while Indonesia came seventh and Canada eighth. Bringing up the rear of the top 10 most expensive countries for New Zealanders to find themselves in need of medical assistance were Spain and Thailand.

Some of the countries on the list may come as a surprise, especially those from the Southeast Asian region where medical costs are generally much lower, but the travel insurer compiled the top 10 list by also taking into account the most popular travel destinations for New Zealanders, and so this is what is being represented here.

“Travel claims are rarely isolated to the costs associated with being ill and receiving treatment,” commented SCTI Chief Executive Chris White. “Some of the highest claims we receive are for tourists requiring extended accommodation for recovery, or medically-assisted travel back home. The knowledge that these extra costs can be covered by travel insurance is a huge relief to travellers suffering away from home.”

By creating the resource, SCTI hopes to encourage individuals to seek out the correct insurance, as well as being sure that they have correctly identified any pre-existing medical conditions that could otherwise nullify their claims.

“Medical incidents occurring on holidays are extremely stressful due to the compounding factors of being away from a familiar home environment, not speaking the language, and not knowing the local healthcare system,” said White. “We know that when we take away the worry of managing hospital arrangements, medical costs and payment uncertainty, it can really help to reduce stress for travellers and their families.”