Travelling Norwegians’ sickness claims hit record high

For Norwegian insurance companies, 2013 has been a year of record high payouts as the result of huge numbers of sickness  claims by travelling Norwegians. Never before have so many Norwegians become sick or injured while spending time abroad. This year’s insurance payments is projected to reach NOK2 billion, according to data collected by the Norwegian insurance industry.sicknorge

Norwegian newspaper VG, citing industry statistics,  attributed the “all-time high” travel insurance claims to the fact that Norwegians travel more, go further away and stay longer. The number of older Norwegians going abroad is boosting the trend towards wanderlust, resulting in Norwegian insurance companies’ payouts reaching an  “all time high” this year.

“We have never seen a higher level of insurance payouts to insured travellers abroad,” said Emma Elisabeth Vennesland, assistant director of information at the Insurance company, Europeiske Reiseforsking and If, in an interview with VG.

Last year, the number of insurance claims for the whole year amounted to 299.510 with payouts of  NOK1,68 billion, according to data from Finans Norge, which monitors claims statistics of all Norwegian Insurance companies.

The biggest item of overseas travel insurance claims was illnesses with payouts of NOK743 million, followed by compensation for thefts at NOK325 million and cancellations at NOK262 million.

Finans Norge’s forecast for the entire 2013, based on the number of claims from the first six months of 2013, points to a total payouts that will reach NOK2 billion.

People getting sick while travelling is the biggest cost driver, and the farther away they go, the higher the costs go, which will be reflected in the prices of the travel insurance policies, explained Vennesland.

VG provided a few examples on the costs it takes when insured travellers get sick and require medical service while abroad.

–         Man, Thailand, heart attack. Hospital and air ambulance: Costs: NOK1,1 million.

–         Man, Vietnam, lung infection. Hospital and air ambulance: Costs: NOK1,3 million.

Not only had the number of claims increased. The prices of the hospital treatment abroad also rose significantly, wrote VG.

In China, the prices increased around 20 percent, in Singapore 12 percent, while such countries as Australia, Thailand, Turkey and USA saw a price increase of about 10 percent, Vennesland told VG.

To Norway, the price on an air ambulance costs NOK500.000 from Bangkok and NOK600.000 from Beijing.

Another insurance company Tryg Forsikring confirmed the trend: “Yes, 2013 seems to be a year with record high travel insurance payouts,” said the Tryg’s communication manager Ole Irgens to VG.

“We have experienced increasingly number of people getting sick while on vacation as well as rising compensation for cancellations. In addition have we seen a growing number of cases in which insured persons reported stolen smartphones,” said Irgens.

According to Irgens, Norwegians happen to be among the most active users of smartphones in the world. They bring their phones on their holidays and are therefore more prone thefts.

But the reason why the number of insurance claims gone up so much is that more Norwegians travel more and longer than they used to.

“More Norwegians travel, and we travel even for longer and more often than before. Also more elderly people and people with health problems travel more than before and often to farther destinations, where the risk of getting sick is higher such as Thailand, Brasil, Vietnam, Cambodia” said Vennesland from Europeiske.

Read the full article (only in Norwegian) here.

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