Media releases

December 23, 2013

Top 10 travel claims

Medibank has released figures for 2013's top ten largest travel claims that have a combined payout of over $1 million.

Topping the list, Medibank travel insurance paid nearly $260,000 on behalf of a traveller who suffered a potentially fatal cardiac arrest while on board a cruise ship. The holiday maker's travel insurance paid for the overseas medical expenses including a pacemaker and for family members to fly to the United States and accompany the patient back to Australia.

"Of our top ten travel insurance claims, the split between injury and illness was half and half," says Medibank Executive General Manager - Private Health Insurance, Laz Cotsios.

"While these figures unfortunately represent misfortune and hospital stays for our policy holders they do illustrate the importance of having insurance for travel of any kind."

The list also reveals a high number of simple accidents, primarily falls, which resulted in serious injuries and broken bones. A walk along the beach in Hawaii, for example, turned frightening when a holidaymaker tripped and fell, suffering a fracture to the neck. Medibank travel insurance subsequently paid medical and repatriation costs to the value of $91,000 to ensure the traveller made it back to Australia in good health. Other falls involved slipping on wet ground and falling down stairs - all injuries that could occur unexpectedly in popular holiday destinations.

"Interestingly, the top ten claims were spread over a broad age range, evidence that you never know what sort of health emergency you could have while travelling. And as these claims demonstrate, care and treatment can be very expensive.

"One of the top ten claims was for a teenager who suffered a serious respiratory infection and required over $64,000 in medical treatment which could have made for a very expensive and awful family holiday had they not been covered."

The top ten claims included costs for things such as surgery, hospital accommodation and emergency medical evacuations to Australia.

"Whether you're travelling overseas for business or pleasure, the last thing you imagine needing is serious healthcare," says Mr Cotsios.

"Luckily, these people all had travel insurance which reduced the financial burden of these costly procedures and enabled the patients to focus on getting home and getting better."

Travel insurance is not just for illness or injury but also for things like stolen, lost or damaged items, damage or theft of a hire vehicle and flight delays due to severe weather or natural disasters. Health emergencies, however, represent most of Medibank's largest travel insurance claims.

In order to make travel insurance more affordable, Medibank was one of the first organisations in Australia to use a self-assessment tool which allows members to be underwritten for pre-existing medical conditions.

Laz summarises, "Medibank travel insurance is as flexible as you are likely to require and we are happy to discuss your needs with you. Make sure you consider packing Medibank travel insurance for your next trip overseas."

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