Cover Up: Expensive Travel Insurance Claims

25 September 2015

Snowboarding, skiing and scooter-ing are just a few of the most common accidents that can result in hefty medical bills and hit your back pocket without the proper insurance coverage.

Across the board, medical claims are the most common and most expensive travel-related insurance claims at Cover-More. In Canada, skiing and snowboarding injuries account for the majority of expensive claims while in Bali it’s the $40,000 price tag of a medivac home.

Over 40 per cent of Cover-More’s travel insurance claims in Bali are for medical care such as gastroenteritis, ear, nose and throat conditions, respiratory infections, trauma (injuries) and cardiac conditions.

 Fun in the snow - but what if there's an accident? (Image: Getty)

For younger travellers in Bali, the most expensive claims last year were for two motor scooter accidents and a surfing accident.

“In Bali we often have to bring customers home for treatment of their illness or injury. A medivac from Bali to Australia typically costs around $40,000,” said Cover-More’s Zac Brookes.

Yet snowboarding, skiing and motorised scooters aside, travellers can still face any number of scenarios where they require urgent medical attention.

In the past year alone, two of Cover-More’s US medical cases cost close to $1 million (an Aussie diagnosed with a kidney condition hospitalised for a month and another hospitalised for a month with a bowel obstruction).

“On the other end of the scale, a visit to an ER department in a New York hospital for a minor cut needing stitches could see you with a bill for $7,000.

“All of these scenarios represent the fundamental reason why all Aussie travellers shouldn’t leave the country without quality travel insurance,” Tom Walley, Head of Flight Centre Australia said.


Don't leave without it. Don’t Fly Into Trouble: Why Travel Insurance Shouldn’t Be Optional

You need to know the essentials. 10 Things You Need to Know About Travel Insurance


Comprehensive medical cover is the single most valuable aspect of any travel insurance policy.

“The right policy will provide cover for your valuable items if they are lost or stolen, cover you for the type of activities you want to do on your travels, reimburse you for out of pocket expenses if travel plans are unexpectedly cancelled or changed, and provide expert and comprehensive medical assistance cover if you are ill or injured overseas,” Zac Brookes said.

 The young and young at heart love scootering but they need to know the consequences of even a minor accident (Image: Getty)

“The level and quality of medical care available around the world can vary greatly. Travellers need travel insurance to not only cover the cost of overseas medical care, but also to ensure they get the standard of treatment they are used to in Australia.

“Medicare and private health insurance do not provide cover outside of Australia, meaning medical services overseas can be very expensive,” said Flight Centre’s Tom Walley.

Handy Tips From The Travel Industry Experts

"Travel insurance is a must for cruising – even if the ship doesn’t leave Australian waters. While they provide a high standard of medical care, medical clinics on board cruise ships are privately run and are not covered by Medicare or private health insurance.  Plus, you may be a long way from land if anything goes wrong, requiring expensive emergency evacuation." -  Jarrod Pask, general manager of Cruiseabout

"Purchase your travel insurance as soon as you book your travel. This way you are covered if you have to cancel or postpone your trip." -  Tom Walley, head of Flight Centre Australia

 It's mind blowing - and so can be the bills if you're not insured (Image: Getty)

"If you have a pre-existing medical condition, let your travel consultant know so they can help you apply for cover.  Many medical conditions are covered by travel insurance." - David Lovelock, general manager of Travel Associates

"If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.  Illness and injury are a real consequence of travelling and medical services overseas often have to be paid for upfront and in full, and some may be to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Some foreign countries may refuse to admit patients without insurance, and the bill can be financially crippling without the security of a comprehensive policy." -  Darren Lloyd, general manager Student Flights

"Look for an insurance provider that offers 24-hour worldwide assistance.  In an emergency, you will be grateful for the advice and thankful to have that level of security just a phone call away." -  Mark Hodgson, general manager Escape Travel

"Be up front about your intended holiday plans with your travel insurance provider and travel agent. If you know you’ll be skiing, riding a motorised scooter or participating in an adventurous activity for example, make sure your policy covers you for these activities." -  Tom Walley, head of Flight Centre Australia

"If adventure is on the cards, prepare for spur-of-the-moment escapades by taking out the highest level of cover possible.  Activities like abseiling, bungy jumping, skydiving, white water rafting and others are usually included in comprehensive policies.  And you can add things like snowboarding and snow skiing by paying a bit extra.  A little foresight at the start of your trip planning can pay off when spontaneous adventures arise." -  Cameron Elliott, general manager My Adventure Store


Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals.


Kellie Carty

If you're a travel writer, journalist, reporter or freelance travel writer, with a media enquiry relating to Flight Centre, please don't hesitate to send me an email. I'd be happy to help with any travel-related questions or put you in touch with the right people. You can reach me at media@flightcentre.com.au