How to take the worry out of travelling

by North & South / 05 September, 2017

Help us find and write the stories Kiwis need to read

In association with Southern Cross Travel Insurance

Southern Cross Travel Insurance aims to take the stress out of your holidays – especially when the unexpected happens.

Travel is fantastic. A stunning swirl of colour and scents, a parade of the exotic and exhilarating, a sampler of amazing sights and wonderful people. Everyone can remember their first overseas trip and the excitement that accompanied them as they stepped out of some foreign airport into a new world. And every time we travel it’s much the same – not knowing what we’re going to see and experience, but knowing it’s going to be brilliant.

But sometimes, it’s not, says Southern Cross Travel Insurance CEO Chris White. We get sick, we get scammed – there are bad bugs and bad people anywhere. “We all think we’re bullet-proof. But sometimes it’s as simple as being in a foreign country, I’ve lost my bags, I’ve just got the clothes I’m standing up in – what do I do now?”

Remarkably, White says 20 per cent of New Zealanders head overseas without travel insurance, just hoping something doesn’t go wrong, in what’s a bit like Russian roulette. Because New Zealand is so safe, we often assume other countries will be the same. And our friendliness and trusting nature sometimes leads to trouble: we’ll be the ones to stop and offer help, only to be pickpocketed when we do.

White says the last thing SCTI wants to do is put people off travelling. Their staff are enthusiastic travellers themselves who want people to chase adventure and have incredible experiences. But the secret to doing that safely is being well prepared and knowing how to avoid trouble.

SCTI like to share what they have learnt from 35 years of insuring New Zealanders. Last year, Kiwis took out SCTI’s TravelCare policies more than 187,000 times – and their experiences have fed back into a phenomenal trove of knowledge about travelling smartly. At SCTI.co.nz there’s a host of information about specific countries and up-to-date warnings, aimed at making our journeys easier and safer.

Things like how to stay healthy; how to look after your precious belongings; tips to avoid scams and con-artists; advice about renting vehicles; and how to enjoy adventure activities without crazy risk. There are explanatory videos, traveller experiences, and accumulated wisdom from SCTI’s experts.

White stresses SCTI is determined to use plain English, not bamboozle customers with fine print, and explain where the line is between excitement and danger.

“The moment of truth is when you go to make a claim. Can we help you with that process? Do we understand the emotion and trauma that comes with claims, whether it’s a broken camera or a medical event? It’s the empathy and understanding that’s important when you’re in that place. We’re not an insurer who looks for reasons not to pay.”

White had been in his job just a few days when he signed off SCTI’s largest-ever claim, earlier this year - $565,000 for an air ambulance to get a customer with a heart condition back from Italy to Rotorua. The total payout, including hospital time, was $700,000.

He says what people often don’t appreciate is how little travel insurance costs, especially for trips to Australia or the Pacific Islands where TravelCare policies start at just $15 - a tiny investment for peace of mind throughout your holiday. And kids are free.

“We’re in the business of trying to make your holiday memorable for the right reasons. You could get a broken phone, you could have a flight cancelled. But if you’ve got travel insurance those things get resolved and reimbursed. If you haven’t, that becomes the thing you remember – your whole holiday is linked to your broken camera or your lost bag. We pick up that issue for you, and we make it go away, and you can focus on the positive stuff.”

For travel advice or to find out more, go to SCTI.co.nz

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