It's not all sun, sea and sangria for travellers overseas. We surveyed over 1,000 holiday makers on medical claims and what we heard came as a surprise.
Whether it’s a simple case of cold and flu or a more exotic rattlesnake emergency, medical is our most frequent form of claim. In February we surveyed over 1,000 travellers to see just how common it was to fall ill overseas. Some of the responses were predictable and others were peculiar, but all of them reminded us how important it is to pack your insurance!
Here are our most common medical claims and a few of the stranger stories we’ve heard. Have any of these happened to you?
Boulder, Colorado isn’t Bondi Beach
Aussies/Kiwis may have a reputation as a hardy bunch when it comes to bracing the weather, but leave the bikini at home if you’re heading to the snow. We’ve seen claims from travellers who’ve been treated for hypothermia in colder climates, and others where they’ve slipped on ice.
Hold on tight
Cruising alongside rice paddies on a zippy scooter - it’s a dreamy picture, isn’t it? We know the dangers of motorbikes and scooters in countries like Thailand and Bali, but our survey reaffirmed just how real they are. Motorbikes and scooters caused over 1 in 5 of overseas injuries.
Unfortunately, gravity is an item we pack on every trip. 39% of travellers who had an accident overseas said falling, tripping and slipping were the culprit. The kids, the luggage and the passport - we know there are a lot of things to keep your eye on when on holiday. But make sure you watch your feet, too!
That mystery meat sizzling at the sidewalk food stall may smell great, but it could mean days in bed if you’re not careful. Food poisoning was the second most common cause of illness for travellers, and we all know how that can sour a holiday. Stick to freshly cooked foods and avoid street vendors, especially in less-developed countries.
One of the more dramatic claims we’ve had was by an unfortunate traveller in the US who was bitten by a rattlesnake while camping. Needing anti-venom, he swapped the tent for a hospital bed. While rattlesnakes may not be No. 1 on your ‘things to watch out for’ list, always be wary of animals like stray dogs and mischievous monkeys in places like Thailand.
Cold and flu
Cold and flu was the most common cause of illness for travellers. A bout of the sniffles can be annoying, but take it as a sign that your body needs rest. It’s tempting to soldier on and hit the hike, the slopes, or the theme park anyway, but taking it easy is your best bet.
Sometimes accidents happen during the most unlikely of activities - one traveller said they suffered an injury getting out of bed! We don’t want you to wrap yourself in cotton wool when travelling, but injuries aren’t as easy to deal with overseas so take special care of those limbs of yours.
Over 1 in 5 travellers who reported injuries overseas said they were from extreme sports. Skiing, climbing and mountain biking were the most common, with diving, sailing and rafting not far behind. The Aussie/Kiwi thirst for adventure is strong, but be careful how much of it you drink.
You may prefer the tropical hammock to the treacherous hike, but that doesn’t make you immune to mishaps. One of our more expensive claims came from a man who broke his hip on a tropical island and needed an air ambulance home!
A tattoo to remember
‘Travel tattoos’ are especially popular among the younger adventurers who want a lifetime reminder of the experiences they’ve had overseas. Unfortunately we’ve heard of travellers suffering allergic reactions and infection from ill-equipped parlours - unforgettable for the wrong reasons, right?