Travelling overseas for cosmetic surgery is more popular than ever – and you can easily see why with attractive prices and the rise in quality of healthcare.
Singapore, India and Thailand in particular are increasingly trendy destinations for medical tourism (as it’s known) with large numbers of Kiwi's travelling overseas for procedures each year.
However, if you’re heading overseas for an elective cosmetic procedure whether it be to to get your eyes lasered, your teeth whitened or even a boob job, 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. Cosmetic surgery 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 for cosmetic surgery, many insurers simply will not cover at all. They will not only exclude you for medical cover, but will also exclude you for all other travel insurance benefits too. So, for example if you took out a travel insurance policy, but the reason you were overseas was for surgery and your bag was stolen and you tried to claim, it 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 Great Lakes) 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 is limited.
You'll be covered for travel insurance benefits such as travel delays or personal liability, but you will not be covered for anything relating to the surgery, or any complications that arise from the surgery.
So, for example, you wouldn’t be covered if you’ve had the surgery and are too sick to return home on your scheduled flight. Because the flight cancellation is due to reasons relating to the surgery then your flight would not be covered, or claimable.
So what are other options?
With the increase in medical tourism, so becomes the demand for cover. Because of this there are now a couple of companies out there that are specifically to cover those travelling overseas for medical treatment.
Is it worth it?
Although overseas cosmetic medical costs are cheaper than here in New Zealand. You should still consider the costs of flights and accommodation into the full cost of the treatment too. You might find after taking into account all costs that is little difference in overseas and surgery in New Zealand. So it's important to think long and hard for 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.