Heading to New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup?

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As our thoughts turn to New Zealand for the next few weeks in light of the rugby world cup which is taking place there, it may also be worth considering the position with regards to healthcare in New Zealand and what you may be entitled to receive if you decide to follow one of the home nations’ teams there to support them. Second only to Iceland in a recent rating of the world’s most peaceful nations, New Zealand is considered to be one of the safest countries in the world to travel to, but unfortunately this does not necessarily mean that accidents don’t happen there- they do, and travellers should be prepared for it.

It is thought that as many as 80,000 people will visit New Zealand for the rugby world cup, and it is therefore most likely that unfortunately a number of these will require hospital treatment during their stay. Kiwi health authorities have had to review their procedures in order to deal with this predicted increase in patient numbers. Travellers should remember that health facilities vary in size, capability and capacity depending on their location. There are even large areas, especially in the far north and south of the country, where there are no hospitals, medical treatment being provided as necessary by networks of ambulances and helicopters to transfer patients to hospitals in more populated areas. Tourists planning to explore off the beaten track should bear this in mind.

Just as there is a reciprocal healthcare agreement in place amongst European countries, there is also a reciprocal health agreement in place between Britain and New Zealand. This basically means that should a Briton require medical treatment in New Zealand, the providers there cannot recover the cost of care from the traveller’s British insurer.  The treatment will however generally be free to the patient, thanks to the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), a scheme which provides for free medical treatment in place of the right to make a personal injury claim for all New Zealanders and for most visitors to the country.

The ACC may be able to assist injured visitors by providing help and support during their holiday. Cases are considered on individual merits but help may be available in a number of situations, including where people are injured:

-          During their stay in New Zealand;

-          As a result of clinical treatment provided in New Zealand;

-          As a result of (in certain circumstances) having worked in New Zealand; and

-          Having sustained injury as a result of a sexual assault or abuse in New Zealand

The ACC does not however provide cover for pre-existing injuries or for injuries sustained whilst travelling to New Zealand, or for injuries sustained whilst travelling around the country in the plane or boat in which they arrived there.

In any case, travellers should remember that the ACC is not a replacement for a suitable policy of travel insurance, as it will not cover the cost of disrupted travel plans or emergency repatriation. Travellers should also be aware of the fact that the existence of the ACC replaces the right to make a claim for compensation for personal injury in New Zealand.  
For further information please contact Joanna Catterall, Solicitor in Blake Lapthorn's Claims Abroad Team, on 023 8085 7343 or at joanna.catterall@bllaw.co.uk

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If you would like to talk to someone and discuss a potential claim please call us on 0344 620 6600 anytime between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday, or if you would prefer you can email us at info@blclaims.co.uk