The 10 most expensive countries for New Zealanders to get sick in

Everyone knows travel is expensive - and unexpected illness can add huge costs to even the best-planned budgets.

Southern Cross Travel Insurance has released the 10 most expensive countries for Kiwi travellers to get sick in. Fall ill in the USA or Australia, and treatment could cost an arm and a leg - and your holiday.

Calculated by the cost of medical-related insurance claims, the US, Australia and Italy take out the top three for the highest claim costs, followed by Israel, the UK and China respectively. Indonesia, Canada, Spain and Thailand round out the list.

According to the travel insurer, the largest claim was for $370,000 by an insured customer who fell ill on a cruise ship in the USA. The 77-year-old underwent surgery to replace an aortic valve after being diagnosed with congestive heart failure.

In Italy, a 70-year-old cruise ship passenger made a claim for $123,764 after being transferred to hospital for bowel surgery. In another case, a 68-year-old Kiwi was flown back from Australia after receiving treatment for a spinal abscess, with a claim for $14,670.

Southern Cross Travel Insurance chief executive Chris White said many holidaymakers fail to factor in potential illness and medical treatment while overseas - and in reality, sickness can strike anyone at any time.

"Medical incidents occurring on holidays are extremely stressful due to the compounding factors of being away from a familiar home environment, not speaking the language and not knowing the local healthcare system," White said.

He reiterated the importance of disclosing any pre-existing conditions when purchasing travel insurance.

"Travel claims are rarely isolated to the costs associated with being ill and receiving treatments. Some of the highest claims we receive are for tourists requiring extended accommodation for recovery or medically-assisted travel back home," he said.

Top 10 most expensive countries to get sick in: 

  1. USA
  2. Australia
  3. Italy
  4. Israel
  5. UK
  6. China
  7. Indonesia
  8. Canada
  9. Spain
  10. Thailand

The list was calculated according to Kiwis' preferred travel destinations and claims placed between October 1, 2018 and September 30, 2019.