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Revealed: NZ's biggest travel insurance payouts and what lesson they teach us

Newshub logo Newshub 13/10/2021 Dan Lake
Trips being cancelled due to sickness and injury are the most common big claim. © Getty Images Trips being cancelled due to sickness and injury are the most common big claim. © Provided by Newshub

The list of most expensive domestic claims from one of New Zealand's largest travel insurance companies has been released and the information makes one thing clear: It's best to buy your travel insurance when you book your trip, not just before you fly.

The highest claims came from customers who hadn't yet packed their bags.

Southern Cross Travel Insurance has provided the 10 most expensive domestic travel insurance claims paid to customers over the last year, with eight of them for a cancelled trip due to injury or illness.

The largest claim was to a customer from Auckland who had to cancel a Fiordland cruise after developing a respiratory infection. They received a total payout of $16,274.

Had they booked closer to their cruise they would have lost most of that.

Several other expensive claims on the list were for cancelled holidays due to customers suffering hip, knee and leg injuries.

"Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic just 11 percent of New Zealanders purchased domestic travel insurance, but after last year's first lockdown, research showed 27 percent of people were prepared to buy it for their next domestic trip," Southern Cross Travel Insurance CEO Jo McCauley said.

"Interestingly, people commonly purchase insurance because they want to be covered while they're away on holiday; but our most expensive claims are proof that the unexpected can happen beforehand, regardless of whether you're travelling domestically or abroad. 

"Unfortunately this can have a serious hit to your pocket if you don't have travel insurance."

Customers needing to change or cancel their journey accounted for 39 percent of the total value of domestic travel insurance claims paid out by Southern Cross over the past year.

McCauley says it's also important to declare any pre-existing medical conditions when purchasing travel insurance.

"A couple had to cancel a trip to the Chatham Islands because one of them had a recurring heart condition which flared up before they left. Fortunately, the customer had declared their health concern, meaning it was covered under their policy, and Southern Cross was able to pay the claim, which came to $6,300."

Two claims for damage to hire cars made it onto SCTI's most expensive claims list. One customer was in an accident which caused damage to their rental car and the claim paid was $4200. Another customer had a claim paid for $3544 after a stone caused a chip in their vehicle's windscreen while driving. 

Southern Cross' top 10 most expensive domestic travel insurance claims paid 2020-2021: 

  1. An 80-year-old from Auckland had to cancel their Fiordland cruise after suffering a respiratory tract infection (claim paid - $16,274)
  2. A 57-year-old from Wellington had to cancel their Fiordland cruise after a family member suffered a stroke (claim paid - $11,324)
  3. An 80-year-old from Christchurch had to cancel their Southland train tour after fracturing their leg (claim paid - $10,168)
  4. An 84-year-old from Napier had to cancel their Chatham Islands tour after suffering a hip injury (claim paid - $10,100)
  5. A 62-year-old from Lower Hutt had to cancel their Milford and Routeburn hikes due to a heart condition (claim paid - $9160)
  6. A 75-year-old from Christchurch had to cancel their Chatham Islands trip due to a heart condition. This was declared as a pre-existing condition and covered under their policy (claim paid - $6300)
  7. A 47-year-old from Auckland had to claim for a rental car damaged in an accident while driving in Christchurch (claim paid - $4200)
  8. A 71-year-old from Hawkes Bay had to cancel their hike in Hollyford after suffering a knee injury (claim paid - $4024)
  9. A 32-year-old from Christchurch had to claim after a stone caused a chip in a rental vehicle's windscreen while driving around the South Island (claim paid - $3544)
  10. A 72-year-old from Auckland had to cancel their South Island tour due to suffering osteoarthritis. This was declared as a pre-existing condition and covered under their policy (claim paid - $3516)

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