Snake Point, Marlborough Sounds
Unlike many countries in the OECD,
New Zealand has a relatively low cost and accessible Health system – particularly for acute or emergency services. Travellers to New Zealand are covered by a State system of insurance called Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC). This allows for compensation for injuries and accidents while in New Zealand, and helps to prevent the high litigation costs that occur in, say, the United States. However, ACC does not cover illnesses or treatments back in the travellers own country, and it is wise, if you are travelling to New Zealand, to take out additional travel insurance for contingencies that ACC does not cover.
Travel Insurance policies vary, and so it pays to check the small print of any policy and to shop around for the one that fits your needs. Most policies have low and high premiums. The high premiums are usually used for those countries (like the USA) which have high medical costs. In New Zealand it is probably unnecessary to pay the highest premium. Some policies exclude dangerous activities like scuba diving or bungy jumping so be sure to check if you intend to participate in any of these activities. Since these and similar adventure activities are very common in New Zealand, it is probably best to choose a policy that does not exempt them, so that you have the freedom to later choose to try something out on the spur of the moment.
Some policies require that you pay on the spot and reclaim the expenses later. Others allow for direct payment from your insurance company. It can often cause further distress on top of injury or illness, to have the extra financial burden incurred by the latter kind of plan. It is also important to make sure that your policy covers ambulances (although these are part of the service in new Zealand) and medical evacuations by Air.
Property and Baggage Insurance
It is usually wise to take out Baggage Insurance when travelling. Airline baggage systems are not infallible and bags do sometimes go missing or their contents damaged. It is also wise to take out insurance against property theft. New Zealand is in general a very safe country for the traveller but there is a significant problem of car and car content theft in popular tourism spots. This is particularly true in public car-parks at the head of trails or bush walks. It is always wise to keep your passport and credit cards on your person, rather than leave them in a vehicle. If you must leave valuables in a vehicle, lock them in the boot (trunk) or otherwise hide them out of sight.
If you are thinking of buying or renting a vehicle while in new Zealand, then you must, by law have it insured. There are two kinds of Vehicle Insurance, Third party and Fully Comprehensive. It is wise when travelling overseas to have the maximum available vehicle insurance cover (Fully Comprehensive). This is because your insurance company will cover the majority of costs to vehicles and persons no matter who is at fault.
Most insurance policies have what they call an “excess” charge. That is, they will pay all of the costs except for a specified amount which you must pay first. A typical excess charge would be $900. Obviously, in such a case, if you have an accident where the costs are less than $900, the Insurance Company pays nothing. If you are renting a vehicle from a rental company, they often have an option which also covers the excess, but you will have to pay an extra amount for this extra coverage. We recommend that where possible you take out this extra coverage.
New Zealand roads are often narrow compared to those elsewhere, and this, coupled with the fact that New Zealanders drive on the LEFT
makes the first few days of driving in the country particularly hazardous. The incidence of travellers having accidents in their first week of travel is significant.