SCTI warns how simple mishaps can cost thousands in travel insurance claims

3 June 2024 by Ellie Williams

With the cost-of-living biting, it could seem tempting to write off travel insurance as a luxury rather than a ‘must-have’. However, even the most simple accidents can end up costing Australian travellers thousands of dollars warns Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI). 

According to SCTI’s Future of Travel 2024 report, 2.4 million Australians claim they won’t purchase travel insurance as a way to save costs due to financial pressures. However, while slip and fall accidents might seem inconsequential at first glance, they can lead to hefty medical bills, especially in foreign countries where healthcare costs can be exorbitant. Likewise, lost luggage can disrupt travel plans and result in unexpected expenses for replacing belongings.

SCTI has seen many claims from Australian travellers where simple accidents led to large medical costs. For example, a 14-year-old who slipped getting out of a hot tub and broke their arm while on holiday in the USA resulted in an insurance claim of $120,000. Another customer fell in Fiji and broke a hip. Their medical care and urgent air ambulance back to Australia cost more than $160,000.

Jo McCauley, CEO at SCTI emphasises the importance of travel insurance in mitigating these risks: "Many Australian travellers underestimate the potential costs associated with common travel mishaps. From minor medical incidents to lost luggage, the expenses can quickly add up, leaving travellers in a precarious financial situation. Investing in travel insurance is a simple yet crucial step in safeguarding against these unforeseen expenses."

SCTI’s International Medical Only travel insurance policy is designed for the budget-conscious traveller, looking only for medical expenses cover for their overseas adventures. Medical Only could be a suitable alternative to Comprehensive cover for those on a budget who want medical protection without other regular features of travel insurance policies, such as cover for trip cancellations and lost luggage. In 2023, the average cost of International Medical Only policies SCTI sold to Australian customers was $266.61, however, the average claim cost was $2,478.82.

Some of SCTI’s most expensive International Comprehensive and International Medical Only claims resulting from simple mishaps over the last two years, include:

  • 94-year-old fell over and fractured their hip while on holiday in Fiji and needed an urgent air ambulance back to Australia - Total claim cost $160,000 
  • 14-year-old who slipped getting out of a hot tub and broke their arm while on holiday in the USA – Total claim cost $120,000 
  • 36-year-old who had a surfing accident in Mexico, which resulted in a broken sacrum. They needed an urgent internal transfer to a better hospital, surgery, and a business class flight upgrade back to Australia. Total claim cost $79,500
  • 20-year-old who took a moped taxi that got hit by a car in Indonesia. They suffered a severe leg injury with complications and required skin grafts. Total claim cost $73,000 
  • 25-year-old who suffered a head injury, concussion, and facial trauma when they fell off an E-scooter in the USA – Total claim cost $69,000
  • 53-year-old who slipped on ice walking into the train station while on holiday in Germany. They broke their ankle needing urgent surgery and a business class flight upgrade to Australia – Total claim cost $62,500
  • 64-year-old fell over in the shower in Switzerland and broke her ankle needing surgery and a business class flight upgrade to Australia – Total claim cost $39,500 
  • 67-year-old who tripped over on the footpath while on holiday in Indonesia and broke their hip. They needed surgery and a business class flight upgrade to Australia – Total claim cost $33,500

Examples of expensive claims for lost baggage and cancellations to journeys include:

  • A traveller whose father suffered a stroke needed to cancel their entire trip- Total claim cost $7,000
  • A traveller’s car was broken into and luggage was stolen from the boot of the vehicle – Total claims cost $5,000
  • A traveller who lost their bracelet while on a zipline adventure – Total claim cost $3,000
  • A traveller whose bag was stolen while on a train – Total claim cost $3,000
  • A traveller who was diagnosed with COVID-19 which resulted in them having to make changes to their journey and delay their flight – Total claim cost $2,000

SCTI encourages Australians to prioritise their financial wellbeing by making sure travel insurance is top of their to-do list when planning a trip. By ensuring they are adequately covered, travellers can enjoy peace of mind knowing they are protected against the unexpected.

The approximate cost for a travel insurance policy for a one-week trip to Fiji for two adults aged 40 and two children is $134.79 for International Comprehensive cover with Southern Cross Travel Insurance1. The approximate cost for Medical Only cover for the same trip would be $80.64.

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Date range used for quote estimates was 8 June 2024 – 15 June 2024. Please note there may be a fluctuation in pricing and amounts included in this release are to be used as a guide.