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Travel insurance not compulsory in Thailand – yet

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Will Thailand actually make travel insurance mandatory?

The Thai government is considering checking travel insurance for visitors on arrival. Although this is still in the planning stage, there is no reason to believe that Thailand will not follow through. If it does, Thailand will be just one of dozens of countries where travel insurance is mandatory.

Generally, the main reason for not doing so would be the potential impact on tourism in the region. However, Thailand is an extraordinarily popular destination for Australians and looks set to attract even more visitors year on year. More than half a million Australians visited Thailand in 2016, an increase of more than 80% over 10 years.

With such quickly growing popularity, making travel insurance mandatory is a sensible choice. Head of distribution for Allianz Worldwide Partners John White says similar: “The news of travel insurance potentially becoming compulsory for visitors to Thailand isn’t that surprising when you consider its popularity and sadly, the number of travel-related insurance claims made.”

In 2016 alone Allianz fielded over 3,000 travel insurance claims from Thailand, with the most common claim being for hospital expenses. Just as significantly, Thailand also has the third-highest number of medical repatriations. With Allianz paying an average of $22,000 for customer repatriations, it's clear that leaving home without the right travel insurance is a potentially ruinous decision.

Allianz encourages travellers to "always read the Product Disclosure Statement and call customer service." if they're unclear on the level of cover. It's also a good idea to read up on travel insurance advice for the destination you're going to, such as Thailand.

It wouldn’t need to be mandatory if Australians were better at buying travel insurance

With so many options, guides and tools available, it's unusual that buying travel insurance still seems to pose such an obstacle.

Citing its own research, Allianz Worldwide says that “an alarming number of Australians still treat travel insurance as a last-minute purchase”, with as many as 39% of customers only taking out a policy the week before departure and up to 19% leaving it until the day of travel or the night before. Others still choose not to buy it at all, with potentially disastrous consequences.

As destinations become more and more popular, mandatory travel insurance begins to make a lot more sense. Even if it’s not mandatory, it’s always a good idea to take out a travel insurance policy before you go anywhere. Just make sure you compare policies to find the one that suits your needs.

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