With 95 per cent of New Zealanders looking to holiday again in the next two years, they're preparing for anything and everything, if Southern Cross Travel Insurance's latest data is anything to go by.
Unsurprisingly, 72 per cent of travellers want a level of Covid-19 policy cover, says the research. However, claims for 'normal' injuries, such as broken bones and other accidents, are becoming more prevalent.
Since February, Southern Cross has assisted five different customers requiring evacuation from the Cook Islands and Fiji back to New Zealand by air ambulance, following four hip fractures and a stroke. A sixth person was evacuated from Indonesia to Thailand for treatment, after a surfboard collision resulting in broken ribs.
“Medevacs like those from Rarotonga and Fiji are complex and require a high level of expertise to manage successfully,” noted Jo McCauley, CEO of Southern Cross Travel Insurance. “They usually involve a full medical crew on a private aircraft, with our team ensuring clearance at both ends of the journey and ambulance transfers to a New Zealand hospital. These can be further complicated if a customer lives out of the main metro areas of New Zealand.”
Limited flight options make repatriations more difficult
While Southern Cross can bring customers home on commercial flights, a medical team is still required, sometimes involving the removal of seats for a stretcher or gurney. With limited flight availability, this is particularly challenging currently.
McCauley added: “Since the borders opened up more fully in February, 25 per cent of claims have involved customers on holiday in the Pacific needing medical treatment and/or evacuation. A medical evacuation like those mentioned previously runs to around $70,000 to $80,000 per incident, which is a significant cost, potentially with additional costs for initial treatment and/or support for family members to join the patient.
“Even further afield, we’ve recently helped families who have tragically lost relatives in sudden death events in France, Hungary and Italy, assisting with necessary arrangements and flights at short notice and being of great support to the family in the current travel climate.”
Covid is still at the forefront of New Zealand travellers’ considerations, and Southern Cross policies include a level of cover to address complications when travel is affected by the virus. However, McCauley reminded customers that it pays to check all terms and conditions before heading away, ensuring that any pre-existing conditions are declared.