This April the Gold Coast will host its largest sporting event yet. In the run up to the Commonwealth Games, travel insurance and emergency assistance provider Allianz Partners have collated some fascinating facts on Kiwi’s travel habits to Australia, along with some essential tips for anyone travelling to Queensland this autumn. If you are lucky enough to be one of the predicted 100,000 spectators we advise you to read on.
KIWIS’ AUSTRALIAN TRAVEL HABITS
In research conducted late last year, Australia was uncovered as the top destination that Kiwis were travelling to uninsured. Around 20% of all overseas trips conducted by kiwis in 2017 were uninsured, however this number jumps up to 52% when we look at trips to Australia.
WHO TRAVELS UNINSURED AND WHY?
The most likely to travel uninsured are those travelling with a spouse, to visit friends and family for a trip under seven days. This may not be surprising, but what is interesting is the demographic of people travelling uninsured. You may be picturing young travellers jetting off for a weekend away, without a care in the world, but in fact these uninsured travellers tend to be over 60 years old.
Kiwis cited the main reasons for taking the risk as:
- Didn’t think it was worth it for this trip
- Never had problems in the past (most likely to be over 60 years old)
- Not visiting a risky country
- Never thought about it (mainly males)
- There are Reciprocal Health Agreements in place
SHOULD YOU BOTHER WITH TRAVEL INSURANCE FOR AUSTRALIA?
Will Ashcroft (Allianz Partners’ Chief Sales Officer) says “Last year Allianz Partners received 40 claims over the $50,000NZD mark. Believe it or not, a couple of these occurred in neighbouring Australia, a destination widely thought to be ‘safe’ to travel to without insurance. This serves as a reminder to us all, that whether you are jetting across the Pacific or just hopping across the ditch, travel insurance is well worth the cost!”
WHAT WE’VE FOUND
The existence of the Reciprocal Health Agreement means there is a common misconception that you don’t need travel insurance for holidays across the ditch. The truth is that many of the most common medical costs incurred by our travellers (such as ambulance travel) aren’t covered under the scheme. In addition to this, nearly 40% of claims are for cancellation, prior to travel even commencing.
IS TRAVELLING WITHOUT INSURANCE WORTH THE RISK?
Although the trip across the ditch is considered a simple and straight-forward journey by most, the Allianz Partners New Zealand office has seen a number of occasions where this hasn’t been the case. The cost that shocks unlucky travellers the most is the cost of an ambulance, which can be anything up to NZD$7000 in Queensland, the host state for this year’s games. The call out fee for an ambulance in Queensland starts at AUD$715 and there is a per kilometre charge on top of this cost. This isn’t covered by the Reciprocal Health Agreement and so travelling without insurance leaves you liable to huge bills should the unexpected happen.
A REAL LIFE CLAIM STORY
Many Kiwi’s think that the U.S.A. is the only destination where bills can sky rocket, but one traveller in Australia last autumn ended up with a bill totalling NZD$56,717 . If you require an ambulance, repatriation or any medical procedures that lie outside of what is covered by the Reciprocal Health Agreement, bills can quickly add up.
WHAT IS & ISN’T COVERED
Before you consider travelling to Australia this autumn (with or without insurance) it’s worth referring to the Human Services website5 to make sure you know exactly what is and what isn’t covered by the Reciprocal Health Agreement. The agreement rules out ambulance travel (often a necessity in an emergency), dental treatment, many pharmaceuticals and any care that isn’t considered clinically essential . The other thing to consider is where in the country you are visiting. Private hospitals, which in many areas may be your closest medical facility, are not covered under the agreement. In the event that you needed treatment, and a private facility was the only viable option, this would (in many cases) be covered by your travel insurance.
“Heading to Australia seems relatively risk free, however, there are still hazards and unexpected costs that can arise, that you need to protect yourself from,” says Allianz Partners Chief Sales Officer Will Ashcroft.
OUR TOP TIPS FOR TRAVEL TO AUSTRALIA THIS AUTUMN
1. PLAN AHEAD – Do some research; If you are planning to rely on services such as the Reciprocal Health Agreement, make sure you read up, so that you know where you stand.
2. BUY INSURANCE AT THE TIME OF BOOKING – This covers you in the event that something happens before you set off and you’re not able to travel for reasons outside of your control.
3. LEAVE PLENTY OF TIME – despite the local transport authority’s best efforts, crowds at events such as these can be hard to predict, and this often slows everything down. To be sure you don’t miss your favourite event we recommend leaving more time than usual.
4. STAY VIGILENT – Medical costs aren’t the only risk when we are travelling and let our guard down. Large crowds at big events spell opportunity for thieves and pickpockets. Ensure you have your passport, wallet and any valuables somewhere secure.
5. BE PREPARED – Our last tip is to ensure you have your travel insurance details on hand and ready to go. We recommend downloading important details such as your policy number and emergency contact telephone numbers to have ready in case you need them.