Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

Illness and injury

Even with the best preparation, you may be struck by injury or illness overseas. This section outlines how we can help in such an emergency, and how you can help yourself.

Medical assistance in a foreign country can be extremely expensive, as the case studies show.

If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.

See our health section for information on what to do before you travel, and make sure your insurance covers the activities you plan to undertake, as well as any pre-existing medical condition(s).

If you suffer illness or injury overseas, you should:

  • contact your insurance company immediately
  • let your family, friends or employer know
  • if you need further assistance, contact the nearest New Zealand Embassy (see below)
  • obtain a full medical report for your insurance company and, if appropriate, to enable you to make an Accident Compensation Commission claim on return (see below).

What can the New Zealand Embassy do?

  • provide advice on local hospitals or other medical facilities
  • help contact your family, and keep them updated on your situation
  • help contact your insurance provider
  • help your family or friends transfer money
  • assist with the facilitation of medical evacuation (at your own cost, or that of your insurance provider).

If you do not have insurance, you are expected to pay any medical costs yourself. This includes any costs involved in returning to New Zealand, which could involve special flights and a medical escort. Some hospitals may be reluctant to provide treatment if payment is not guaranteed.

Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC)

In some cases the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) may provide cover to New Zealanders, on their return to New Zealand, for treatment of injuries sustained while travelling on short trips overseas.

To qualify, the individual must be ordinarily resident in New Zealand.

ACC assistance is not available to cover any costs related to treatment overseas.

A full written medical report from the doctor, dentist or hospital detailing the incident and any treatment received overseas should be requested if an individual intends to put in a claim on return to New Zealand.

The ACC website provides information on eligibility and how to claim.

Adventure travel

Adventure activities and extreme sports are becoming increasingly popular with many New Zealanders travelling overseas. These activities include white water rafting, bungee jumping, rock climbing, mountaineering, safaris and tours to remote places. Travellers need to be aware of the increased risks involved and the possible consequences.

There have been instances of death and serious injuries resulting from adventure and extreme sports activities. You should only use reputable guides and operators with proven safety records. You should also be very aware of insurance implications.

Many insurance companies specifically exclude these types of activities from travel insurance policies. Individuals are then personally responsible should an accident or mishap occur.  See the Insurance Council of New Zealand website for more details.

Evacuation, hospitalisation and medical costs can be extremely high in many countries and you are expected to cover these costs yourself.


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