With younger New Zealanders taking flight again, Southern Cross issues a timely reminder to make sure of a soft landing if things go wrong

8 July 2022 by Sue Hamilton

With New Zealand’s borders wide open, many of the nation’s young people are preparing to pack their bags and gain some valuable overseas experience in the age-old Kiwi tradition. In fact, Southern Cross Travel Insurance research from YouGov showed 20 per cent of people under 34 intend to travel overseas to have a work experience to boost their career in the next two years.

Southern Cross Travel Insurance CEO Jo McCauley said it’s understandable many New Zealanders, and especially younger adults, are champing at the bit to travel again.

“New Zealanders love to explore the world, so the past two years of the pandemic have been a pretty frustrating time for many as our borders remained closed. No more so than for younger folk keen to get out and enjoy the traditional overseas work experience,” she said. “It’s really important though that they consider protecting themselves with travel insurance.”

With borders reopening, Southern Cross has seen sales of its Working Overseas travel insurance policy increase by 188 per cent (between February and June 2022). Records show several customers on working holidays in the US, Canada and the UK have had to make claims for tens of thousands of dollars after requiring medical treatment in those countries.

The Working Overseas policy is available to New Zealanders who intend to live and work abroad and automatically covers office-based work and some types of manual work. In some countries it’s mandatory to have travel insurance in place for certain visa applications. In Canada for instance, an individual must provide proof of insurance for the duration of an International Experience Canada visa.

“Working and travelling overseas can be one of life’s greatest experiences, but there’s always room for the unexpected to happen and it can be pretty costly if you don’t have the right level of insurance cover in place,” said McCauley.

Two of the most expensive Southern Cross Travel Insurance claims for a Working Overseas policy have been for customers requiring extensive medical treatment while in Canada and the US. A young skier experienced a compound fracture and required extensive support in Canada with costs amounting to $50,571* and in the USA a customer in her 40s was admitted to ICU with a seizure, which was later found to be a cardiac arrest. She was hospitalised for an extensive period and had a pacemaker inserted with costs of $221,000.

Even something as simple as contracting food poisoning overseas can prove expensive. One customer incurred a hospital bill of nearly $17,000 after doing so in the US. And it’s not just medical misadventures which can prove costly. A customer travelling in the UK needed to make a claim of nearly $2,000 after scraping their (work) rental car in Yorkshire.


The real-life benefits of travel insurance

Having fallen in love with the people and the place, Southern Cross Travel Insurance customer Warren Moore set up a real estate business in Santo, Vanuatu. This required frequent travel to and from the island nation.

He soon appreciated the benefits of his Southern Cross Working Overseas Policy when in 2019, pre- pandemic, disaster struck on several occasions.

“Thankfully, I was able to recoup costs twice for travel affected by cyclone and aircraft maintenance, and a third time when a severe eye issue meant I had to return urgently to New Zealand for surgery. I was also able to rush my partner back home for a separate serious health complaint.

“Despite recent improvements, healthcare is often unreliable in the Pacific Islands and any medical evacuation is difficult and very costly. The service my partner and I received from Southern Cross on every occasion was second to none and I would totally recommend purchasing a policy if working or travelling in the Pacific,” he said.

*All costs quoted are New Zealand dollar value.