Medical expenses overseas are becoming increasingly more and more expensive. Here's just a few reasons why travel insurance has now become essential for Australian travellers abroad.

Over the last few years there has been a noticeable increase in medical expenses incurred by Australians travelling overseas.  Australia has a limited amount of 'Reciprocal Health Agreements' in place which allow for minimised costs for Australian Citizens by providing full cover for medical expenses incurred at the public hospital and practitioner level in countries such as the United Kingdom and New Zealand.  However, in many popular travel destinations these agreements do not exist.  This means that Australians who are injured or become ill in these countries can face expensive medical bills. These bills become even more expensive in countries such as the United States of America which has no public health care system and charge non residents at higher rates.

It is in these situations where a quality travel insurance policy becomes essential.  It can be the difference between having your medical bills paid in full or alternatively facing years of repayments.

In the last year (1 Oct 2011 to 30 Sep 2012) Cover-More Travel Insurance has paid over 20,000 claims for medical expenses incurred overseas.  These claims amount to over $26,000,000 (26 million dollars!) in cover provided.  In particular, the three largest countries in terms of medical claims has been the United States of America with over 2500 claims, Indonesia with over 2200 claims and Thailand with over 1900 claims.

Thailand and Indonesia are extremely popular tourist destinations for Australians due to their close proximity, affordable travel costs and favourable exchange rates. However these countries have a number of risks associated with them including, tropical diseases (such as Dengue Fever, Malaria etc), and a strong trend of gastrointestinal conditions such as Gastroenteritis, Gastritis and Food Poisoning.  Further to this their reputations as party destinations have seen a large number of injury cases due to party related incidents. Moped accidents are also common with major injuries often sustained that can often lead to urgent (and expensive) medical evacuations. Adventure sports related accidents are also of higher prevalence in these destinations.

While the medical expenses in Thailand and Indonesia are not exorbitant they can quickly accumulate in cost, particularly if repatriation and extended hospitalisations are required.  In the previous year (1 Oct 2011 to 30 Sep 2012) Cover-More has paid at total of over $1.5 million dollars in Indonesia and $1.9 million in Thailand, just in medical expenses alone.  This is without taking into account additional costs such as repatriation costs, cancelled holiday arrangements, and lost or damaged personal effects, which often also occur in the same claim event.

All of these risks are also present in the USA, however due to North America's lack of a public health insurance system the costs associated with medical bills for Non US residents raises the potential for serious financial difficulties to a new level. A US hospital admission even for a basic ailment can result in a considerable medical bill. These bills become even more substantial if you are faced with life threatening illness or injury.

Common medical claims for the United States can include motor vehicle accidents, heart attacks, strokes, haemorrhages and other general health problems or physical injuries. Repatriation from the United States can also result in a significant financial burden, particularly if an Air Ambulance or Medical Escorts are required. Cover-More has provided over $6.4 million in cover for medical expenses in United States over the previous year.

Cover-More's 24 hour assistance team can take the hassle out of a serious predicament by liaising directly with the overseas medical providers on your behalf and arranging direct payment to the provider for both medical and repatriation costs.  They also provide advice on which is the closest and most reputable medical provider to your location and can act as the communication channel between you and your family in Australia.

Overseas medical costs can be expensive and can result in a debt which can potentially far exceed the cost of your trip.  Depending on the treatment and tests performed, a single-day hospital visit can quickly accumulate in costs beyond your expectations.

It is for the above reasons that it is easy to justify the amount spent on a quality Travel Insurance Policy which can provide assistance and relief when it is needed most.

See some of our customer testimonials below to learn how travel insurance can help in a medical emergency:

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the authors and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of Cover-More Insurance.