Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) has announced that it will now cover the cost of childbirth and neo-natal care of an extremely pre-term baby delivered overseas, up until the time both mother and child can safely return to New Zealand.
The insurer claims to be the first one in New Zealand to offer this benefit, which is part of its TravelCare policy. According to Southern Cross, most pregnancy insurance covers only the medical expenses of the mother, in case she goes into early pre-term labour when travelling abroad. The costs related to the birth itself or the ongoing care of the newborn are often excluded.
“Extremely pre-term” is defined in this policy as until the 24th week of gestation, or the first 23 weeks and six days.
SCTI also extended the coverage for costs or losses related to pregnancy from a maximum gestation period of 20 weeks to 24 weeks.
Dr Stephen Child, chief medical officer of Southern Cross Health Society, said premature babies’ survival rates have improved due to advances in medicine and technology.
“Babies born at 20 weeks are unlikely to survive, but the survival rate for those born at 23 to 24 weeks increases to nearly 60%,” Child said. “However, there are many medical challenges that can come with such an early delivery.”
In New Zealand, babies born at 20 to 23 weeks stay in the hospital for an average of 60 days, due to the amount of intensive care needed.
According to SCTI chief executive Jo McCauley, extending pregnancy cover is another way the travel insurer can help give its customers peace of mind when travelling.
“For anyone, a pre-term delivery is distressing, but this can be even more difficult if it happens for a very pre-term baby whilst overseas,” McCauley said. “The changes we have made to our pregnancy cover can help to provide reassurance that the costs of medical care for the mother are covered, in addition to the costs for the newborn, who is likely to need a significant level of extended care at birth.”