Travelling at home and think you don’t need insurance? You could end up seriously out of pocket

June 19 2024 by Sue Hamilton

New Zealanders looking to travel in Aotearoa on a Great Walk, or another high profile tour or adventure, should be aware of how to protect that investment – which is often non-refundable.  The team at Southern Cross Travel Insurance has taken a look at recent claims for domestic travel and have some startling numbers to share.

Jo McCauley, CEO at SCTI says, “it’s true that if you have an injury when travelling around Aotearoa and you have an accident New Zealanders do have ACC to cover medical costs and rehabilitation, and of course you can turn up to any hospital and be treated through our public health system should you fall ill. But ACC and Health NZ – Te Whatu Ora will not pick up the tab for you having to cancel thousands of dollars of travel for a Great Walk you can no longer do or a domestic cruise or adventure you have to cancel thanks to illness, injury, family bereavement or a host of other reasons.” 

McCauley’s team had a look at claims paid for domestic travel incidents by SCTI from July 2022 all the way through to the beginning of May this year and can share they have supported customers with domestic travel claims to the tune of $1,051,603. 

“One of our most expensive claims in recent months was $11,000 which we paid to a customer who was injured while hiking in New Zealand. They had to cancel the remainder of their pre-planned itinerary for a family trip. Great Walks, particularly the guided journeys, can cost thousands per person and are non-refundable the closer you get to the date of departure. Note the Milford Track sold out in something like 45 minutes just recently.”

McCauley says other recent claims include:  

A claim from May 2024 for $9,880 where the insured ended up in hospital in March ahead of their journey with an illness not related to any existing conditions. Upon returning home the customer was declared unfit to travel, even domestically. Because of this, the insured and their partner had to cancel their non-refundable New Zealand based tour.

A claim for $5,740 where the insured couple was due to travel to Christchurch to take part in a cycle tour. Unfortunately, one of the insured fell ill with COVID-19 (yes, it’s still a thing) and had to cancel their entire non-refundable trip. 
It’s clear, says McCauley that the costs associated with some New Zealand adventures can be just as expensive as their overseas equivalent. 

“Looking at our claims across the last 17 months we’ve seen the average domestic claim sit at 70% of the value of an international claim. 

“We also looked at the number of claims we received for Domestic NZ vs our flagship International Comprehensive policy. Across the same period (i.e., Jan 2023 to end of May 2024) as a percentage of policies sold, we received more claims for our domestic policies than our international comprehensive policy. And when we compare our claims paid rate on Domestic against our International Comprehensive policy, it’s also marginally higher.  

“All of our data shows that customers are certainly finding a reasons to claim on their domestic travels and illustrates just how much domestic travel insurance can support NZ travellers adventuring at home.”

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