Watch out for the monkeys! The surprising risk of holiday animal encounters

13 September 2023 by Laura Sedgwick

In the exciting world of travel, unexpected adventures are usually met with enthusiasm and an open mind. However, one surprise meeting might not leave a smile on your face as encounters with animals are causing havoc for travellers the world over. From mischievous monkeys to over-enthusiastic dogs, these incidents are causing issues for Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) customers.

While embarking on a journey to explore new horizons, the last thing anyone expects is to tangle with a furry troublemaker. Yet, the reality is that our animal friends can sometimes turn a relaxing holiday into a costly ordeal. Dogs, often known for their loyalty, can also react defensively in unfamiliar situations. This can lead to unfortunate incidents such as dog bites, causing not only physical harm but also unexpected medical expenses.

It's not just our canine companions that can catch us off guard. In many destinations popular with Australian tourists, mischievous monkeys have honed the art of thievery to perfection. These agile creatures have been known to snatch sunglasses, smartphones, and even cameras right out of unsuspecting travellers' hands. The result? Not only a lost item but also the potential for a sizable financial loss.

The types of claims made by Australian travellers to Southern Cross Travel Insurance that relate to animals include;

  • accidents caused by an animal (for example, swerving a vehicle to avoid an animal and causing injury, or being startled by an animal causing damage to an item)
  • bites and scratches from insects, dogs, cats, squirrels and monkeys
  • damage to vehicles from animals such as kangaroos
  • property stolen by monkeys
  • injuries, such as being stood on by a horse

Over recent years, Southern Cross Travel Insurance has paid Australians more than $26,000 in claims related to dog bites, more than $18,000 for property stolen or damaged by monkeys, and more than $16,000 for bites from bugs. The most expensive claim was for $8,560 when a traveller had their bag containing hearing aids, phone and money stolen by a monkey at Uluwatu in Bali.

Jo McCauley, CEO at Southern Cross Travel Insurance says, “These might seem like surreal situations, but they happen more often than you might think. While amusing on the surface, they underscore the need for robust travel insurance coverage. A monkey stealing your bag containing your designer sunglasses, a bird swooping down and damaging your rental car's windshield – these seemingly minor incidents can quickly add up to significant costs.

“The unpredictability of animal interactions emphasises the importance of comprehensive travel insurance coverage. It's about safeguarding your well-earned travel experiences against the unforeseen, whether it's a playful pup or a crafty primate.”

If you’re unlucky enough to be bitten by an animal while overseas, clean the wound immediately and thoroughly with soap and water, apply antiseptic and contact a doctor immediately for further assessment.