Insurers say no payout for alcohol injuries.

Some insurance companies are refusing payouts to holidaymakers who hurt themselves after heavy drinking sessions.

As travel agencies and airlines launch their 2015 specials to Europe, insurance companies are warning they won't pay out for claims caused by intoxication.

It's a move the insurance industry has made overseas - and at least one Kiwi traveller has already been left with a multimillion-dollar bill.

Southern Cross Travel Insurance - New Zealand's biggest travel insurer - has rejected a $2.6million claim from someone seriously injured in a "balcony surfing" incident after drinking in the US, chief executive Craig Morrison said.


Accidents caused by alcohol consumption could be very expensive, and insurers would look at them on a case-by-case basis, he said. "If you're on holiday by the pool and you've had a couple of margaritas at 3pm and trip and break your ankle, [we'd] go a long way to saying that's just what people do on holiday."

But if someone had consumed 15 margaritas by 3pm, the response was likely to be different, he said.

Another key issue was when the injury happened. "After midnight, everyone has only ever had two drinks, even if their blood-alcohol level is through the roof. We'd look very strongly to decline that claim on the basis of alcohol being the primary driver of the injury."

Investigators could be hired to interview witnesses when claims were for more than $100,000 and there was disagreement over how much of a factor a person's drinking was, he said.

Southern Cross declined about four cases a year where alcohol had been a factor in injuries.

Morrison's message to travellers is: "Don't get out of control on booze, and go to bed before midnight. Use good judgment."

Fellow insurer Allianz revealed it was turning down one claim a month from travellers due to levels of intoxication.

"We get a lot of claims from people who go to Fiji, Raro, Thailand and start doing wild things," Will Ashcroft, chief of sales, said. If people ended up in hospital and a toxicology report showed they were very intoxicated, their claim would be declined.


He added the costs of intensive care in the US could reach up to $30,000 a day.

IAG spokesman Craig Dowling said its policy wording made it clear travellers were not insured for claims that "directly or indirectly" arose when the holidaymaker was under the influence of alcohol.

Insurance & Savings Ombudsman Karen Stevens said the independent service did not collect statistics on claims rejected due to alcohol-related incidents. But most complaints regarding claims declined due to alcohol consumption involved car incidents.

It was imperative travellers were aware some policies did not cover "every eventuality".

She said most travel policies would not cover people for injuries suffered if alcohol was a factor.

Most life insurance policies will pay out if someone dies after consuming alcohol, as long as they didn't die due to their own illegal actions.