Travel Trouble

Joanita Wibowo

Aussie traveller's $259,000 medical emergency on overseas holiday

Aussie traveller's $259,000 medical emergency on overseas holiday

Aussie travellers have racked up as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills during their overseas trips, a new report by a travel insurance company found.

According to Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI), Aussie tourists who experienced medical emergencies in the US racked up some of the heftiest bills in 2018.

The most expensive claim received by the company in the year was $259,000 from a customer in their 60s who had a cardiac surgery following a heart attack in the States.

In the second place was a tourist who had to return home from Canada with a doctor escort after developing severe cellulitis complications, which led to a $208,500 bill.

The third most expensive claim came from a Victorian woman in her 60s who broke her hip during a honeymoon trip to Machu Picchu. 

SCTI’s CEO Chris White said the woman “required two separate air ambulances after [she] broke their hip, one to a nearby city for surgery and another for rehabilitation in a different country”, resulting in a $182,000 bill.

“Everyone wants to be able to focus on the adventures of their holiday rather than worrying about what can go wrong,” said White.

“Even on a short trip to Bali, a few days in hospital after an accident can interrupt your travel plans and lead to hefty medical bills.

“In the grand scheme of things, travel insurance is a small but important cost that has the potential to save a lot of stress and expense.”

According to a report by the Insurance Council of Australia and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, three out of 10 Aussie travellers (31 per cent) travelled outside the country without insurance between 2013 and 2016. Older travellers were more likely to have travel insurance, with more people aged below 30 believing it is alright to visit developed countries without getting insured.

SCTI’s top insurance claims of 2018

1. $259,000, US: Heart attack

2. $208,500, Canada: Cellulitis complications

3. $182,000, South America: Broken hip

4. $153,000, US: Broken pelvis

5. $132,000, US: Pneumonia and heart failure

6. $107,000, US: Haematoma

7. $88,500, US: Vertigo from an inner ear infection

8. $88,000, Southeast Asia: Pneumonia

9. $80,500, Europe: Broken hip

10. $71,000, Southeast Asia: Multiple trauma from a fall