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$223,255 medical bill highlights need for travel insurance

Posted: 30 May 2018 6:25 am

Travel insurer pays claims worth "more than three times the deposit of an average house in Sydney".

A bout of pneumonia, coupled with legionnaires' disease and emphysema, left one Aussie traveller with a travel insurance claim nearing a quarter of a million dollars ($223,255), according to InsureandGo. The travel insurer recently released its top five claims of 2017 and all-in-all InsureandGo paid out almost three-quarters of a million dollars for its top five claims of 2017.

“When you have claims that are more than three times the deposit of an average house in Sydney, it’s no laughing matter,” said general manager of InsureandGo Australia Raphael Bandeira in a statement.

Of the top five claims, three required repatriation to Australia from China, Indonesia and the Philippines.

ItalyMultiple illnesses71$223,255
ChinaSpinal injury due to fall76$150,103
IndonesiaMultiple illnesses75$144,829
ChileChest Pains70$104,935

All of the top five claims involved a senior traveller, which may explain why travel insurers levy such heavy premiums on those over the age of 65 heading overseas. In fact, many insurers don't offer cover to those over the age of 80. While that doesn't mean you can't find affordable travel insurance, it does limit your options.

We saw a range of medical emergencies top our list of claims for what may be low-cost incidents when in Australia

These claims from InsureandGo highlight just how much medical costs vary from one country to the next. Had these people sustained their injuries in Australia, the treatment costs would have been far less.

“Looking back at 2017, we saw a range of medical emergencies top our list of claims for what may be low-cost incidents when in Australia. However, these can easily balloon while overseas when factoring in costs such as repatriation, medical expenses and flights for family members to accompany ill travellers,” said Bandeira.

These findings back up research from, which found buying travel insurance could help Aussie travellers avoid enormous out-of-pocket medical costs overseas.

The analysis centred on data collected by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and how much just the "hotel" component of a night's stay in hospital would cost you in a range of countries around the world. The analysis found Monaco was the most expensive destination in the world to be hospitalised, at a cost of AUD$3,444 per day for a hospital bed.

The most expensive destinations to spend the night in hospital

CountryAverage cost of a hospital bed for 1 dayCost of travel insurance
San Marino$845$52
United Arab Emirates$727$51

With these extraordinary medical costs in mind, it's easy to see why 90% of Australians get travel insurance before they go overseas. If you're planning a trip abroad, make sure you at least have cover for medical. Compare your options today and protect yourself against overseas medical costs.

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warning A travel ban is in place for all Australians effective 25 March 2020. Most travel insurance brands will not cover you if you travel against a government warning. If you already have a policy, please contact your insurer directly for more information.
We are currently updating our site to reflect the Australian government’s advice. Some travel insurance policies will be temporarily unavailable.

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