By John Grant How often do you buy travel insurance when heading overseas? Research conducted by Southern Cross Travel Insurance shows 1 in 3 people departing New Zealand have no insurance protection for their trip. Of the 40,000 Kiwi's leaving the country every week, about 13,000 are taking risks that could cost them plenty, and all for a saving of probably less than $40. With earthquakes and tsunamis happening in our neighbouring Islands, taking the risk of being uninsured could have devastating financial and other consequences.
With half of those travelers heading to Australia you could probably understand why no insurance was purchased. Many think that it's not necessary to take insurance, especially with reciprocal health arrangements existing between our favorite destinations of Australia and England. This agreement gives Kiwis full access to Australia and England's public health system. There are of course many extra complications if you are hospitalised in another country. These include financial costs such as loss of deposits on forward travel, additional costs of accommodation for traveling companions to expenses like extra phone bills. Anybody who thinks that their contents policy will cover their personal effects while overseas should think again. All contents insurance policies that we reviewed did not extend cover beyond New Zealand. Considering all of this one would wonder why people risk being uninsured for such journeys. And thats without even considering liability insurance. New Zealand is quite unique in having its own accident compensation scheme. Other countries do not and the willingness to litigate on injury issues really creates a significant risk to uninsured travelers. Most policies provide up to $5 mil. protection. As the slogan says - 'Don't leave home without it!" Cover for at least $2 mil. and in some cases $5 mil. is provided and is absolutely essential for travelers. Consider for example what could happen if you accidental left an iron on in your hotel room and the subsequent potential claims against you that could flow from such an event. If circumstances cause you to change plans mid way through a pre-booked trip, then losses can mount quickly. Cancellation or changes to travel arrangements can happen for many reasons. These include family illness, accidents, sickness etc. "Australia is no different to many other destinations in terms of travel related risks. Lost or damaged property items, travel disruptions, missed connections and crime are the sorts of things that we see in claims", said Craig Morrison Chief Executive of Southern Cross Travel Insurance. If you're traveling further afield then the potential costs can really start to climb. A coronary on US soil could cost you $60,000 or more. During a six-week tour of the US a recently retired businessman was rushed to hospital suffering from severe angina attack that required immediate coronary artery bypass surgery. Five days after the surgery the client suffered a stroke and vital organ failure. The client remained in hospital for another 30 days and required life support. He was later repatriated with an intensive care doctor and intensive care nurse. Costs included medical, evacuation and additional expenses and amounted to over $725,000. Policies are relatively low cost illustrating the likelihood of claims is not too significant. But as remote as it may seem, the costs of not doing anything about taking insurance is just downright scary. Polices are generally purchased for each travel undertaken. However frequent travelers are able to buy an annual policy. The cost of travel insurance starts as low as $29 and there can be discounts if you apply online.