Crazy travel stories and disasters

Posted Date: 19 June 2015
Travel disasters

When things really go wrong on holiday, it’s great if we can just laugh and put it down to experience. If there’s a financial loss involved or you have to cancel part of your holiday – that’s when we all rely on travel insurance to come to the rescue and be there for us. But sometimes you hear about disasters that can change lives…. these stories are all true!

Misadventure number 1:

Just how often do cruise ships actually sink? Cruise ships tend to be safe but the number of ships that suffer damage from bad weather conditions and even groundings might surprise you! In the case of the Costa Concordia in Italy in 2012, over 3,229 passengers had to be evacuated while the ship slowly sank after hitting a rock, and the story became headline news around the world. 32 people lost their lives in this disaster. But the incident is not the first of its kind. In New Zealand in 1986, the Mikhail Lermontov, a Russian cruise liner controlled by a Kiwi pilot from Picton, went aground and sank off the Marlborough Sounds.

Travellers on cruise ships that don’t sink still account for some the heftiest insurance claims we see - for example an airlift medical evacuation from a cruise liner often costs well into the 6 figures, and we generally receive large claims several times a year for Kiwi and Aussie cruise travellers. For those people planning to add a cruise as part of their itinerary, remember that the unexpected can happen when you’re travelling by sea. If the weather gets rough, try to stay in your cabin and relax on your bed as much as possible. A moving deck can make even the most nimble footed sea farer a prime candidate for a sprained ankle... or worse!

SCTI’s TravelCare policy provides comprehensive cover for people and families travelling on cruises.

Misadventure number 2:

We hear a lot about animal mishaps - a bite on the head from a camel, a lady falling off the back of an elephant... but monkeys have to take the cake as the most troublesome of creatures. In fact they’re trouble with a capital ‘T’ -  Why? Because of their sheer persistence, tenacity and ability to relieve so many unwary travellers from their precious belongings!

Flash that jewellery, your phone, sunglasses or purse in front of them, and chances are they’ll swipe it and run off into the jungle. Last year we had several claims for mobile phones being grabbed, dropped or lost by these cute and irresistible thieves - so watch out for those innocent eyes and furry cuteness! They could be the ones laughing in the end!

Remember that for property claims there are maximum cover limits for some items, and you’ll need to provide receipts as proof of purchase if you need to make a claim. If you are taking valuable jewellery items with you overseas, the maximum amount covered for all items of jewellery and watches that are not specified on your policy is $2,500, so it may be worth paying an additional premium to be covered if your jewellery is worth more than that. You can find more on our policy limits in the policy wording. 

Of course the most important thing is to take extra care around any kind of wild animal and keep any valuables hidden away from thieves, or just leave them at home! You may be interested in our previous article about animal antics!

Misadventure number 3:

We have heard that holiday plans are changed at the last minute because of bed lice, unsanitary rooms not meeting expectations, and added unwanted stress caused by unacceptable accommodation, ruining the best laid plans.

If you’re booking your own accommodation, it’s important to know what you’re committing to before you pay any money up front. We’ve heard of travellers preferring to sleep on the tour bus or resorting to using a tent to avoid poorly chosen or misrepresented accommodation! So double check your choices before you commit.

Remember, if you don’t like your accommodation, or worse if it’s not fit for human habitation, you can’t simply upgrade and expect that your travel insurance will cover the difference. If you pre-book and pre-pay your own accommodation, the responsibility for that choice is yours, so we recommend you do your homework first!

Misadventure number 4:

On the funny side, but ‘not so funny when it happened’, an Australian traveller woke in his small thatched hut at the Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe to an unbelievable racket caused by banging garbage lids and barbeque amenities. Outside a troop of baboons were swinging from the lighting poles - but that wasn’t the end of it. While his companions slept on, he watched in horror as the doorknob turned and a baboon the size of an ‘adult wookie’ burst in, pulled up a chair and proceeded to finish a half-eaten dinner. The only thing that would move the animal was a pillow that was waved about by the panic-stricken traveller, and the baboon finally ran back outside!

Based on the claims we receive, our advice to travellers is to be very careful around wild animals of any kind. They can be highly unpredictable and often bites can result in health complications.

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