The New Zealand "she'll be right" attitude is getting Kiwis in trouble overseas, with one in six travellers choosing not to take out travel insurance - instead relying on public appeals for money if things go wrong.

Research from Southern Cross Travel Insurance found that 61 per cent of New Zealanders thought it was unacceptable for travellers without insurance to seek public funding to cover medical bills or emergencies.

Despite this, 29 per cent of Kiwis don't take out insurance when heading overseas.

Southern Cross Travel Insurance chief executive Chris White said having adequate cover was crucial.

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"One quarter of New Zealanders told us they have required medical assistance at some stage while travelling overseas," White said.

"So being insured can be the difference between managing travel hiccups and having it ruin your holiday - and finances beyond - particularly because research tells us that the public won't necessarily come to the party and pick up unexpected bills."

New Zealand has reciprocal health agreements with Australia and the UK so travellers could access some health services in those countries, but White said it was a different story in other countries.

Last year alone Southern Cross paid out for 10 medical claims that exceeded $200,000 each, including a half a million dollar case of encephalitis in Africa.

White said there were few places overseas where Kiwis could access free healthcare and although most New Zealanders understood this, unexpected bills for illness or injury could be difficult to front up for.

"While we all hope we'll escape our holiday without falling sick or suffering an injury, considering potential risks and preparing yourself for the unexpected will always pay off," White said.

"Especially when we know most people back home are probably not going to fork out for your bills."

Travel insurance claims 2016

• Africa, Encephalitis - required an air ambulance home $561,400
• US, Diverticulitis - required hospitalisation and an upgraded flight home $374,000
• China, car accident - required an air ambulance home $362,000
• US, arterial haemorrhage - required 12 days in hospital $360,000
• China, cardiac issue - required an air ambulance home $262,000
• Indonesia, fall from a cliff, resulting in a brain bleed - air ambulance home $260,000
• US, coronary artery problems - required three days in hospital $235,400
• South Africa, pneumonia and a heart attack - over two months in hospital $212,000
• US, gallstone complications - three days in hospital and escort home $208,000
• US, hip injury due to a fall at the beach - six days in hospital and repatriation $206,000