SCTI reveals 10 of its most expensive claims in 2023

19 December 2023 by Laura Sedgwick

Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) has revealed ten of its most expensive international travel claims1 made by Australian travellers in 2023. The list from one of Australia’s leading travel insurers includes everything from unexpected illnesses, to accidents while exploring on holiday and even an unlucky slip when getting out of the hot tub.

At the top of the list is a claim for $187,604, which was paid to the family of a 14 year-old boy who fractured his shoulder while getting out of an outdoor hot tub and had to have emergency surgery while on holiday in the USA.

The next most expensive claim at $155,000 was paid to a 71 year-old man who suffered complications relating to a heart condition while on holiday in Germany. While recovering from his heart condition he injured his leg which became infected, and he ended up having to have surgery. SCTI paid $155,000 in medical expenses.

Several other high value claims on the list were for fractures and breaks sustained due to accidents while travelling.

Southern Cross Travel Insurance CEO, Jo McCauley, said that while it’s encouraging to see such a strong travel resurgence following the pandemic, it’s important travellers don’t cut out the basics.

“Our research shows a strong appetite for travel showing 87 per cent of Aussies were planning to travel this year. However, we also found that 83 per cent of Aussies planning to travel this year claimed they needed to reduce travel costs due to the cost-of-living crisis, with one in ten Australians indicating they will not take out travel insurance.

The types of claims we’re seeing aren’t dramatic events or far fetched situations, they’re just the usual mishaps that can happen to any of us, which is why it’s so important to make sure you're covered for the unexpected by taking out travel insurance.” says McCauley.

Travel insurance doesn’t just protect people from a financial burden, which is likely to be incurred if injured while overseas, especially in countries where medical care is expensive, such as the USA.

It also provides high level support for patients and families by ensuring people access the right level of medical care and in some instances family members are flown out to support patients who are receiving medical care on their own.

“If you have an accident or fall sick overseas, the last thing you want to worry about is mounting medical bills or impending travel costs to get back home. It’s not worth taking the risk and the consequences can be severe, especially when you look at the cost of some of the larger claims on this list.”

The average cost for a travel insurance policy for a week-long trip to Bali over the Christmas holidays2 for two adults aged 40 and two young children starts from as little as $82.33 for Medical Only cover or $121.82 for International Comprehensive cover with Southern Cross Travel Insurance.

“We understand that nobody gets excited about booking travel insurance”, says McCauley. “But it’s fair to say that if you can’t afford travel insurance then you probably can’t afford to go on holiday.”

Other claims included a customer fracturing her hip after falling while on holiday in Fiji. The traveller was hospitalised and then repatriated via air ambulance back to Australia. SCTI paid $147,148 towards medical expenses and an air ambulance to bring her home.

Another incident saw a 36 year old suffer a broken sacrum, located near to the pelvis, after a surfing accident in Mexico. He needed an internal air ambulance to a better facility in Mexico and once he was fit enough to come back to Australia, he had to travel back on a business class flight (claim paid $79,500).

10 of Southern Cross Travel Insurance’s most expensive international travel insurance claims paid:

  1. A 14 year-old fractured his shoulder after falling out of an outdoor hot tub while on holiday with his family in USA (claim paid - $187,604)
  2. A 71 year-old had to claim after suffering a heart condition and complications while on holiday in Germany (claim paid - $155,00)
  3. A 94 year-old had to return early from Fiji via air ambulance after fracturing a hip when falling (claim paid - $147,148)
  4. A 69 year-old had to cut their holiday short and return early from Indonesia when they suffered complications related to brain cancer (claim paid - $140,148)
  5. A 62 year-old suffered fluid on the lungs related to a pneumonia and had to return from Indonesia via air ambulance (claim paid - $102,060)
  6. A 60 year-old had sustained a serious wrist fracture and had to undergo surgery while on holiday in USA (claim paid - $87,000)
  7. A 48 year-old had to seek emergency treatment for gastroenteritis and septicemia while on holiday in Vietnam (claim paid - $86,500)
  8. An 86 year old suffered a blocked bile duct while on holiday in Greece (claim paid - $84,000)
  9. An 91 year old suffered a broken hip while on holiday in Vietnam (claim paid - $81,000)
  10. A 36 year old suffered a broken sacrum after a surfing accident in Mexico. He needed an internal air ambulance to a better facility in Mexico and once he was fit enough to come back to Australia, he had to travel back on a business class flight (claim paid $79,500)

1 SCTI international travel insurance claims paid 1 Jan - 31 October 2023
2 Date range used for quote estimates was 31 December 2023 - 06 January 2024. Please note there may be a fluctuation in pricing and amounts included in this release are to be used as a guide.