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Assistance provided abroad to insured travellers from Australia following the 2004 Asian tsunami

By Peter A. Leggat and Frances W. Leggat


Background: On 26 December 2004, the Asian tsunami hit countries around the Indian Ocean rim, particularly around its earthquake-associated epicentre off Indonesia. A number of popular tourist destinations for Australian travellers are located in this region. This study was designed to investigate travel insurance claims reported by travellers from Australia following the Asian tsunami and to examine the role of travel insurance and emergency assistance companies.\ud \ud Methods: In December 2005, all claims reported, following the Asian tsunami on 26 December 2004, to a major Australian travel insurance company were examined for those claims associated with the Asian tsunami.\ud \ud Results: Twenty-two tsunami-related claims were submitted of which nine travellers (40.9%) used the travel insurance company's emergency assistance service. Four travellers (18.2%) cancelled their trip to Asia, mainly to Thailand. Five travellers (27.3%), who were already abroad, also curtailed their trip as a result of the tsunami. Half of travellers (50.0%) were claiming loss of personal belongings. Of those using the emergency assistance service, five travellers (22.7%) sought policy and claiming advice, two (9.1%) sought assistance with flight rearrangements, and one (4.5%) sought situation advice. There was also assistance provided following the death of one insured traveller as a direct consequence of the tsunami, which included a lump sum payment to the deceased estate. The mean refund, where a travel insurance claim was paid, was Australian dollars (AUD)2234 (SD=AUD5755).\ud \ud Conclusions: This study highlights the importance of travellers taking out appropriate travel insurance, which provides for emergency assistance. Travel insurance agencies do play some role after emergencies, such as the Asian tsunami. This assistance predominantly involves dealing with cancellation of travellers’ intended visits to the affected area, but does also involve some assistance to travellers affected by the crisis. Travellers should be advised to seek travel health advice well before departure overseas and to ensure that they are aware of travel advisories for their destination

Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2007
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.tmaid.2006.01.012
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Provided by: ResearchOnline@JCU
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