By Vicky Anscombe on 15 June 2015

We all know that travel insurance is an essential part of any holiday - and although you’ll probably never need us, it’s good to know that we’ll protect you if the worst should happen.

Last year, we insured half a million customers from 50 different countries, and most people enjoyed event-free trips. However, as luck would have it, some of the people we insured found that their plans changed without warning - but we were there to help them.

We’ve recently raided our global claims database, and we’ve pulled together a list of last year’s top claims; looking at the ten largest claims made in 2014. All of the claims were in relation to trips overseas and three of the claimants were travelling to the USA.

Medical emergencies were responsible for the most expensive payouts, and the biggest was for a premature baby born overseas; the total cost amounted to over $470,000.

The top ten most costly incidents from 2014 were:

  • Treatment and care for mother and baby following a premature birth in the US: $473,000
  • Respiratory infection in Greece: $185,000
  • Head injury sustained in Myanmar: $150,000
  • Fracture from skiing in Italy: $56,000
  • Myocardial infarction (MI), acute coronary syndrome in the Canary Islands: $46,000
  • Back pain, air pockets in neck muscle during a USA trip: $45,000
  • Suspected stroke in the US: $40,000
  • Injuries incurred from a road accident in Spain: $34,000
  • Heart attack in Hong Kong: $27,000
  • A seizure suffered in the US: $25,210

Why does medical treatment cost so much when you’re abroad?

  • Medicare doesn’t apply outside of Australia and, even if there is a reciprocal health agreement with the country you’re visiting, this doesn’t necessarily cover all of the cost
  • Getting you back from overseas when you can’t travel on a normal passenger flight is a lot more expensive than a normal plane ticket
  • The USA and Canada are popular travel destinations for Aussies and Kiwis, and these two countries have some of the highest costs for medical treatment in the world

Antje Lauterbach, marketing manager at Columbus Direct Australia, said: "The risks that travel insurance protects us from often seem quite abstract and not very tangible. It’s easy to underestimate them, especially if you’re a healthy person.

"However, the list above shows that these things actually do happen, that they’re real events that real people go through, and that they can be very costly. Compared to the hundreds of thousands that a medical incident abroad can cost, a travel insurance premium really is a very small price to pay."

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