Man who is sick holding stomach


We all have a travel hotspot wish list. And while Indonesia, Thailand, USA, Philippines and New Zealand are favourite destinations of many jet setters they are also among the top locations where travellers contract gastro.

No one wants to think about it but some of your favourite holiday spots present the perfect breeding ground for an upset stomach and can leave you spending your precious vacation days in the bathroom rather than on the beach.

Last year Cover-More customers notched up 1457 reported cases of gastro, costing almost $2 million in emergency expenses. While travel insurance usually has the bill covered and medical assistance sorted, for the sake of your holiday and health gastro is something you want to steer clear of.

Woman on plane feeling sick

Tips for avoiding gastro

Cover-More’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Stephen Rashford has five simple tips:

  1. After touching money, wash your hands. Touching paper notes and coins are a particularly easy way to transmit and contract nasty bugs, so make sure you thoroughly wash your hands after exchanging money.
  2. Don’t drink the tap water in non-first world countries. Aside from the obvious of always drinking bottled water, it’s important not to use the tap when brushing your teeth, and keep your mouth closed in the shower. Even in countries where the tap water is fine, your digestive system sometimes isn’t used to the bacteria that some water systems across the world carry.
  3. Check the bottle cap of your water when purchasing it. Some unscrupulous sellers will fill old plastic bottles with tap water and sell them as if new so be careful to check that the cap of your water is secured tightly when purchasing. If in doubt, discard it.
  4. Ask for your drink without ice and avoid salads that might have been washed in water. This is a common mistake made by travellers when avoiding drinking water, they forget that contaminated water is all around us – in drinks with ice and fruit and vegetables that are served at restaurants if they’ve been rinsed with water. Ask for ice either from bottled water or avoid it altogether and if you can, only purchase meals that are cooked.
  5. Take hand sanitiser and use it. Having hand sanitiser drastically reduces the risk of contamination, so that no matter what you touch, it doesn’t somehow end up in your mouth. And don’t rub your eyes with dirty hands, you can still get sick that way.

To find out more about what Bali Belly is and how to avoid it, check out this blog.

Top 10 places where Cover-More travellers reported contracting gastroenteritis in 2016

CountryAmount of Cover-More Claims
South West Pacific159
New Zealand123

Surprisingly, despite the horror stories, the chances of needing to claim medical expenses due to getting gastroenteritis in Indonesia isn’t actually that high.  You’re actually more likely to get sick in other countries.

Cover-More’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Stephen Rashford explains: “While these statistics may make it look like Indonesia is a place that you’ll get really sick, these high claim figures are in part because of the sheer volume of travellers to this country.

“An interesting fact, you’re actually four times more likely to make a claim on a gastroenteritis related illness when travelling in Peru.  Peru is consistently rated as the most likely country to get a gastroenteritis illness, with two percent of travellers on average every year making a case claim.”


Chances of getting gastro

Chances of getting gastro


It’s the cost of contracting the stomach bug is the real pain in the guts.

Out of the top ten most expensive gastroenteritis claims across the world, those contracted in the United States made up almost half.

We’re talking claims ranging from $60,000 to in excess of $100,000.

The most expensive claim ever for gastroenteritis on Cover-More’s books was in September 2015 when a customer on holiday in the USA thanked their lucky stars that they didn’t have to fork out a whopping $105,886.21 for their tummy bug.

Given the cost for health care in the United States, it’s no wonder that of the Top 10 most expensive gastro claims ever made with Cover-More, four of those were from the USA.

CountryRegisteredClaim Cost
United States2015$105,886.21
United States2014$76,757.24
United States2013$72,864.20
United States2015$72,415.29

Make sure your next trip is covered and get a quote today!