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Travel survey highlights medical costs

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 22/12/2016

Many New Zealanders underestimate the huge costs that come with a medical emergency overseas, according to research from a travel insurance company.

Southern Cross Travel Insurance says a survey of 2000 people showed that more than half thought a broken bone would be treated for less than $10,000 in the United States.

The real figure can range from $40,000 to $150,000.

When asked about the cost of chartering an emergency flight from Los Angeles to Auckland, almost half believed it would be under $100,000, rather than the actual $150,000 to $200,000.

A third expected the bill for a medically necessary upgrade to business class from Singapore to Auckland to be under under $2500, instead of the actual $5000 to $10,000.

SCTI chief executive Craig Morrison says the amounts people think overseas medical treatment and repatriation will require pale in comparison to some of the claims the company receives.

"Hospital costs in the USA are incredibly high, sometimes seemingly without rationale or justification" he said.

"Injuring yourself almost anywhere in the world could hurt both physically and financially."

In the survey, 31 per cent of those polled had needed medical assistance while travelling, while 17 per cent would still choose to head overseas without insurance.

SCTI'S TOP THREE MEDICAL CLAIMS OF 2016

* $561,400 - encephalitis in Africa, required air ambulance home;

* $374,000 - diverticulitis in the US, required hospitalisation and an upgraded flight home;

* $362,000 - car accident in China, required air ambulance home.

TOP THREE NON-MEDICAL CLAIMS

* $17,200 - Airline lost customer's suitcase containing designer clothing and accessories between Los Angeles and Auckland;

* $14,900 - Additional expenses incurred because of Mt Raung volcanic activity affecting travel in Bali;

* $12,800 - Missed flights because of traffic delays caused by a road accident.

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