Travelling overseas for elective surgery is becoming more popular than ever – and you can easily see why with competitive prices and the rising quality of healthcare abroad.
Singapore, India and Thailand in particular are increasingly trendy destinations for medical tourism (as it’s known) with large numbers of Kiwis travelling overseas for procedures each year.
However, if you’re heading overseas for an elective cosmetic procedure it's important to know the facts. Whether you're travelling overseas to get your eyes lasered, your teeth whitened or even a breast enhancement, it's essential to make sure you’re covered before you go under the knife!
Does travel insurance cover for elective surgery overseas?
Travel Insurance exists to cover the unforeseen, not situations where risk is likely. Undergoing a cosmetic procedure overseas is considered high risk and therefore it’s very rare for travellers who are going overseas specifically for medical procedures to be covered at all!
What does this mean?
Basically, if the purpose of your trip is specifically to get cosmetic surgery, many insurers simply will not cover you at all. They will not only exclude you for medical cover, but will also exclude all other travel insurance benefits too. So, for example if you took out a travel insurance policy for a surgical procedure and your bag was stolen your claim would most probably be denied.
A glimmer of hope...
We’ve done some research and found that 1Cover (underwritten by Lloyds), American Express (underwritten by ACE), Covermore (underwritten by Zurich New Zealand) and Travel Insurance Direct (underwritten by Lloyds), will still allow you to buy a policy even if the purpose of your trip is elective surgery, but cover will be limited.
Under these policies, you'll be covered for travel insurance benefits such as travel delays or personal liability, but not for any claims related to the surgery, or any complications that arise from the surgery.
So, for example, you wouldn’t be covered if you are too ill post-surgery to return home on your scheduled flight. As your flight cancellation was a direct result of your elective surgery, it would not be covered, or claimable.
So what are other options?
With the increase in medical tourism, the demand for suitable travel insurance has grown. The following company/s specifically covers those travelling overseas for medical treatment.
Is it worth it?
Although certain cosmetic procedures abroad may be cheaper than here in New Zealand, you should still consider the costs of flights, accommodation and any possible medical complications into the full cost of your treatment too. After taking into account all the costs involved your may find that the difference in price is negligible. It's important to think long and hard before jetting overseas to go under the knife. You have been warned!
Disclaimer: The information in this guide should be taken as general advice only and the full policy details should be reviewed to see if the policies are right for your own circumstances.