SCTI reveals its 10 most expensive international travel claims paid in 2022

15 December 2022 by Laura Sedgwick

Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) has revealed the ten most expensive international travel claims made by Australian travellers in 2022. 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 in the shower.

At the top of the list is a claim for $135,375, paid to a 65 year-old traveller who had a heart condition and fluid on the lungs while on holiday in Greece and was hospitalised for approximately three weeks. He had to fly back to Australia on a business class flight when he was finally fit to fly.

The second most expensive claim at $109,725, was paid to a 95 year-old man who contracted pneumonia while travelling to Greece and was admitted to hospital for three weeks. Unfortunately, his condition didn’t improve and he had to fly back to Australia on a business class flight with two registered nurse escorts.

Several other high value claims on the list were for injuries sustained during adventurous holiday activities, such as a fractured bone while skiing, a scooter accident and a fall from an e-bike.

Southern Cross Travel Insurance CEO Jo McCauley said that while it’s great we’ve been able to get back out into the world and explore again, after two years of lockdowns and domestic travel, we still need to be prepared for the unexpected.

“Following Covid-19, we know there has been an increased appetite for travel. Research we conducted earlier this year showed 92 per cent of Aussies are planning to travel in the next two years. We’ve also seen people travelling for longer, up by an average of 25 per cent, from 20 days to 25 days.

“Understandably Aussie travellers have been preoccupied with what would happen if they catch Covid-19 while travelling. But whilst Covid-19 still remains a reality, our largest claims relate to the same types of accidents and medical events that we were witnessing prior to the pandemic,” 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 a high level of medical oversight and support.

“Medical incidents occurring on holiday are extremely stressful and often people find themselves in an unfamiliar environment, unable to speak the language and with no knowledge of the medical system. We ensure that people get the right assistance, including the right level of medical and personal care. We often fly family members out to be with patients if they are alone while receiving treatment overseas as this helps to reduce stress for the traveller and their family, so they can focus on the most important thing - getting better,” says McCauley.

Other claims included a 22 year-old man who crashed his scooter in Indonesia and suffered significant injuries, including a collapsed lung, cracked rib and fractured sternum. As a result of his injuries he spent six days in intensive care and had to be airlifted from Lombok to a hospital in Perth for further treatment. SCTI covered the cost of medical treatment and the air ambulance, with total costs reaching $79,277 in expenses.

Another incident saw a customer fracture her ankle after she slipped in the shower while on holiday in Switzerland. She was hospitalised while she received medical treatment and SCTI paid $37,525 towards medical expenses and a flight upgrade when bringing her home.

Overall, claims associated with Covid-19 accounted for 14 per cent of all claims received by SCTI in Australia this year. Of the total Covid-19 claims received, cancellations accounted for 30 per cent and changes to journey accounted for 49 per cent, with an average claim payment of $2,537.

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

  1. A 65 year-old had to return early from Greece following a heart condition and fluid on the lungs (claim paid - $135,375)
  2. A 95 year-old had to return early from Greece assisted by two registered nurses, after he contracted pneumonia (claim paid - $109,725)
  3. A 22 year-old had to claim after suffering a collapsed lung and fractured rib following a scooter accident in Indonesia (claim paid - $79,277)
  4. An 85 year-old had to return early from Greece after fracturing a hip when falling , while getting out of a car (claim paid - $46,075)
  5. A 28 year-old had to make a claim when admitted into hospital with a heart condition while on holiday in America (claim paid - $44,175)
  6. A 64 year-old fractured her ankle after slipping in the shower while on holiday in Switzerland (claim paid - $37,525)
  7. A 17 year-old had to return early from America after sustaining a serious fracture while skiing (claim paid - $36,575)
  8. A 46 year-old had to seek emergency treatment after a tear formed in the blood vessel in the heart while on holiday in Canada (claim paid - $34,675)
  9. An 88 year old had to return early from Portugal after falling off an e-bike (claim paid $33,725)
  10. An 85 year old had to return early from Indonesia after suffering a heart attack (claim paid - $33,934)