Travelling to Thailand? Find suitable cover for your trip away.
Thailand is a fascinating country that lures thousands of Australians every year with its stunning scenery, amazing culture and huge variety of activities and attractions. Before you book your journey to this exotic region of South East Asia however, make sure you have travel insurance.
Do I need travel insurance for Thailand?
Thailand is home to its own travel concerns that have the potential to hurt your wallet if you're not careful. Travel insurance can help protect you financially from these concerns and cover you for:
- Medical Expenses. Australia has no reciprocal health care arrangement with Thailand, and the quality of basic health care is of lower standard compared to Australia. Hospital stays, specialist treatment and possible evacuation back to Australia would cost you many thousands of dollars without travel insurance.
- Extreme activities. If during your trip to Thailand, you may enjoy what are considered high-risk activities such as jet-skiing, bungee jumping and scuba diving, which can be added as extras to your travel insurance policy.
- Theft and personal items. Thailand is known for petty crimes such as theft. Travel insurance can help protect you against this risk.
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From a study of 10,000 quotes requested through finder.com.au's quote engine, the most common age of traveller to Thailand were 46 to 55 years olds. The average cost of travel insurance for a 46-55 year old is $72.69.
What does a policy for a 46-55 year old look like?
|Policy features||Average costing policy for $72.69||Basic policy at $38.90|
|Alternative travel expenses|
|Luggage and personal effects daily allowance|
|Overseas emergency medical assistance|
|Cancellation fees and lost deposits|
|Luggage and personal effects|
|Overseas emergency medical and hospital expenses|
|Default excess on claims|
As well as the normal risks associated with travelling in any foreign country, Thailand has some particular concerns for Australian travellers.
- Unstable political situation. Visitors to Thailand need to be particularly vigilant to avoid dangerous situations such as the recent bombings in Bangkok. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trading (DFAT) warns visitors to be aware of the political climate and any warnings issued by the Australian government before leaving home and whilst in Thailand.
- Theft and other crimes. Crime is another issue that requires constant vigilance. Petty crime such as pick-pocketing and theft is common and you should keep your valuables with you at all times and avoid putting yourself in situations where you could be taken advantage of.
- Drink spiking. Many young Australians travel to Thailand because it is a cool place to party, but care should be taken here as well. Drink spiking is a common occurrence, so you should keep your drink with you at all times and refrain from excessive alcohol consumption, as this not only makes you more of a target, but can get you into serious trouble as well.
- Stricter laws and customs. Thailand is also a magnet for backpackers and those who leave the more well-trodden tourist paths can encounter problems. Tourists are not always welcome in some areas and local laws and customs need to be respected and observed.
- Motorcycle accidents. Another problem many Australian tourists encounter is motor cycle or moped riding. As motor cycle riding is a major form of transport in Thailand, we assume we can simply hop on a motor bike and ride everywhere. Fact is, if you don’t have a licence and you are involved in an accident, you won't be covered by your travel insurance policy.
You are covered just as if you were in Bangkok but you must take reasonable care to avoid putting yourself in danger.
The Full Moon Party
This is one of the most sort out parties for young Australian travellers. Held at every full moon on the island of Ko Pha Ngan, bars along the beach play music until sun-rise, or until the party stops. Before you buy a bucket of Pina Colada and let loose, understand that poor decision making can lead to voiding your travel insurance cover, and worse yet hurting yourself.
Full Moon Party temptations that can void your cover
- 1. Excessive alcoholic buckets. Literally a bucket of mixed alcoholic spirits and energy drinks for under $AUD 10. Overconsumption can lead to intoxication and if you injure yourself or lose your valuables, you will not be covered.
- 2. Shroom Shakes and other drugs. Drugs are not hard to find on Koh Pha Ngan. Buying drugs in Thailand can lead to a setup forcing you to bribe corrupt cops, or worst yet the Thai legal system. Anything that happens to you while under influence of drugs is not claimable under your travel insurance.
- 3. The Burning Rope. The "Burning Rope" makes little sense when it comes to safety. Playing with a skipping rope that is literally on fire can lead to injuries and will exclude your travel insurance cover.
- 4. Scooter riding accidents. Even if you have an Australian driver license, driving combined with drinking is dangerous and will lead to cover exclusions. Take a taxi to get around instead
Full Moon Party safety tips
- Avoid excessive drinking and drugs. Have fun but your safety comes first
- Don't risk carrying your new iPhone to the party. Leave your valuables in a safe at your hotel.
- Take the chartered boat at 7am back. Speed boats before then can be dangerous.
- Beware of drink spiking. Mix bucket drinks and ice together yourself.
- Don't fall sleep on the beach. You're asking to have your valuables stolen.
Upcoming Full Moon Party Dates
What does this mean for travel insurance? Travel Insurance Direct example
Although many travel insurance policies have general exclusion for events of terrorism, some policies may cover you if you had your policy before the bombing occurred. Travel Insurance Direct posted a press release on the 18th of August 2015, stating you would be covered in the following ways:
- Medically. If you were injured as a result of the explosion, TID will cover you and recommends that you seek immediate medical attention
- Forced cancellations. If you have contacted your travel agent and are unable to get the necessary refunds from accommodation providers and airlines, then TID will cover you
- No cover for cancellations due to change of mind. If you simply cancel future travel plans e.g. accommodation or flight services that are still operating, there is no cover
Make sure you contact your insurer and follow official government warnings
This will give you a clear understanding of what you are covered and under what circumstances. Most importantly, so you avoid situation's where you are left without cover.
If you follow international news closely you’ll know that Thailand has experienced civil unrest and political instability in the past few years. Most recently in 2014, martial law was declared by the military across all of Thailand. So, what does martial law mean for travel insurance?
Recent political unrest
While there are some insurers that will not cover you at all if you travel to somewhere a coup is in place or where martial law has been declared, this is not always the case. The situation in Thailand in 2014 was a little different - the military was at pains to point out that it was not a coup, that the caretaker government would be left in place and all they wanted to do was restore order - and so many travel insurers continued to offer cover.
Cover not associated with martial law is still provided
Policies will usually still provide cover in accordance to the terms of the PDS. That is, they will pay out any claims that don't arise as a result of martial law even if martial law has been declared. Check with your insurer to see whether you will or will not be covered.
Be aware of government warnings
Of course, you should always keep up to date with the situation overseas and always consider your need to travel. If you visit a destination for which the Australian Government has issued a travel advisory warning against visiting, your insurer will not offer you cover.
Am I covered for medical emergencies in Thailand
Travel insurance policies with overseas medical cover will cover you for medical emergencies in Thailand. When is comes to medical treatment and emergencies, make sure you are aware of the following:
- Standard of Cover. The cover for medical treatment you receive while in Thailand differs between insurers. The medical treatment on offer in Thailand’s major cities is of quite a high standard, although those standards can vary quite substantially if you require treatment in a rural area.
- Thai hospital requirements. In Thailand, private hospitals need either confirmation that you have private health insurance cover or upfront payment before you can be admitted. If you ever require medical evacuation to another destination, the resulting costs of this can be quite significant
- How does travel insurance cover you? Many insurance companies will usually require you to pay upfront when you visit a doctor for basic checks and then reimburse you later. For emergencies hospital stays, they can cover the cost of staying in hospital upfront with a guarantee of payment
- Have money for basic treatment, just in case. Make sure you are able to cover the cost of basic treatments if your policy does follow this practice, and ensure you have the details of your travel insurance provider just in case you are hospitalised. Check with your insurer for the full details of the medical cover on your policy and what you will need to do if you are hospitalised.
Am I covered for Thai sports like Muay Thai?
Many insurers are reluctant to cover you for participation in any sort of adventure or contact sports. In the eyes of an insurance underwriter, these activities are dangerous and can greatly increase the risk of you making a claim, so many providers simply exclude a wide range of leisure activities from cover.
Yes, but not contact sparring
However, certain insurers will offer sports packs that provide some cover if you’re looking to channel your inner adrenalin junkie while in Thailand. For example, Columbus Direct offers its optional Sports Leisure Pack, which provides water skiing cover. Additionally, it covers basic boxing training. This means you will be able to hit pads, bags, practice speed drills and fight movements in a Thai kickboxing gym, but you will not be able to undertake contact sparring against another person.
Always compare closely
Thailand is a wonderful travel destination that sadly also leaves many young Australians in a strange place if they break the law. The Thai legal process can be a lengthy and scary process for foreigners and one that travel insurers will refuse to cover for. Any legal fees and cancellations that result from breaking the law will be excluded.
1. Strict drug laws
Thailand has no-tolerance laws for both possession and supply of illicit drugs. Participating in drug-related activity will subject you to the death sentence.
Violators of laws related to illicit drugs, e.g., having and holding for use, or being a producer, seller, or transporter are subject to the death sentence. - Customs Department, Kingdom of Thailand
2. Do not deface image of the king
This includes Thai money, so make sure you watch your step! The maximum jail time for this offence is up to 15 years of imprisonment.
3. No drinking in public places
It is illegal to drink in the following spots
- Petrol Station
- Schools and Universities
Drinking in these places can land in up to six months of jail time.
Can't I just bribe the cops?
You will here stories where people bribe police to get out of trouble with the law. Bribery is nonetheless illegal. Instead, play by the rules and don't break the law.
What do I do if my phone and wallet is stolen?
Losing your phone in Thailand can be a pretty stressful experience. Combine that with the inconvenience of having your wallet stolen, your dream Thai getaway can quickly turn into a nightmare. When claiming, remember:
- Negligence is not covered. If you leave your bag unattended in at an airport café while you go to the toilet and it is stolen, don’t expect any love from your insurer. Insurer's have general exclusions for
- Documentation is a must. You must provide the necessary paperwork including:
- Proof of purchase
- Police report if your waller or phone is stolen
- Check your policy. Understand what your insurer’s approach is to paying claims for lost or stolen valuables e.g. will they cover the full value of your belongings or an equivalent to the depreciated value of your personal items, or will they replace the lost or stolen item?
Scams in Thailand
While Thailand is considered a relatively safe tourist destination there are still some common scams to keep an eye out for:
- Fake airport taxis. A common scam in may destinations around the world, unlicensed taxis can be a problem in Thailand. From pretending to get lost to simply over-charging, these dodgy drivers can hurt your hip pocket. Make sure to never get into an unmarked vehicle and to organise airport transfers through your hotel.
- The jet ski scam. This scam is usually associated with jet skis but can also occur with car, scooter and motorbike hire. When you return your hire vehicle you’ll be accused of causing significant underbody damage and ordered to pay a large sum of cash. If you do want to use this method of travel make sure to get photographic evidence that shows the existing condition of the vehicle. Letting the hire company operators see you do this will also let them know you’re aware of the scam.
- Corrupt cops. Police corruption is a big problem in Thailand and many of the local cops are quite happy to accept bribes. The basic premise behind this scam involves police accusing you of something — from shoplifting to breaking the road rules — and then demanding payment so that you can pay your way out of trouble. The best thing you can do to avoid this is to act sensibly, learn the local laws and stick to them.
- Gem scheme. If you’re ever approached by a stranger a tuk tuk driver or anyone else in Thailand offering to sell you gems at a highly discounted price, be sceptical — very sceptical. Whatever you end up purchasing will most likely be completely worthless or will never make it to your shipping address back home.
- The stolen scooter scam. You rent a motorbike or scooter, pay a large deposit and hand over your passport. But when you leave your bike unattended later in the day, you’re shocked to discover it has been stolen — and you then have to pay the full sum to replace it. Make sure not to leave your bike unattended, or to travel further away from the place of hire before you stop to avoid this one.
Be vigilant and pay attention to these scams:
If you find yourself in an emergency in Thailand, some of helpful contacts include:
- You travel insurer. You insurance provider will have an 24/7 helpline for claims and medical emergencies.
- Australian Embassies and Consulates. You can find the contact details of Australian Embassies and Consulates in the Thailand below.
Essential cover for Thailand
Essential cover you should ensure you have:
- Medical and evacuation expenses
- Loss or damage to property
- Cancellations or changes to planned journeys
- Personal accident and liability protection.
Suggested extra cover for Thailand:
- Adventurous activities
- Motor cycle or moped riding
- Emergency dental treatment
- Additional cover for expensive cameras or computers
- Funeral expenses (dying overseas can be expensive for your loved ones at home).
As with any insurance policy, don’t just look for the cheapest price. Having adequate coverage is more important than saving a few dollars. The same goes for the excess, which is the amount you must pay upfront when making a claim. Some policies will have the option of choosing a larger excess to reduce your premium, but you need to consider the things you are likely to claim on to decide whether this is good value or not (i.e. paying a $100 excess to claim on a $140 lost suitcase is not good value for money).
Travel insurance exclusions
Like all insurance, travel insurance policies when going to Thailand contain exclusions. These are circumstances in which the policy will not cover you. Common exclusions in travel insurance policies include:
- Dangerous activities. These can include activities such as sky diving, scuba diving, motor bike riding or hot air ballooning. They will vary with the insurer and it is important to know which ones you are not covered for and to seek additional cover if you plan to pursue these activities while overseas.
- Country exclusions. Certain travel insurance policies will not cover you in certain countries, so you need to make sure the policy you choose covers the country you plan to visit and any other countries you might be thinking of visiting as part of your trip to Thailand.
- Working exclusions. Many travel insurance policies cover recreational travellers only. If you plan to work casually while overseas, make sure the policy covers you. If not, you will need to take out additional cover.
- Contributory negligence. While you may be covered if your bags or belongings are lost or stolen, the fine print in your policy may say that you are not covered if you contribute to their loss or theft by leaving them unattended or in an insecure place.
- Pre-existing medical conditions. If you have a medical condition that you don’t tell the insurer about and you need treatment for it whilst overseas, you may find that your policy will not cover the costs.
- Reckless behaviour. Over is excluded in many policies for behaviour considered reckless, such as excessive drinking or drug taking of any kind, which results in a claim being made.
- Ignoring government advice. If you travel to a country where the Australian government has issued warnings advising against travelling to Thailand, then your policy will not cover you if anything happens to you.
Q: I can’t afford travel insurance. Is it really that important in Thailand?
Q: Is a basic policy enough?
Q: Am I covered for loss or theft of luggage and personal items?
Q: Can I extend my insurance if I decide to stay longer?
Q: How soon before I go overseas should I purchase my travel insurance policy?
Q: Who can purchase travel insurance?
Q: Can I get a refund if I change my mind and cancel my policy?
When selecting the level of travel insurance for Thailand ask yourself these five questions:
- 1. Where in Thailand are you going? Some part of Thailand can be dangerous and prone to cancellations e.g. the border of Malaysia. Make sure you are covered for any questionable regions.
- 2. How many times will you visit Thailand this year? Decide on single trip or annual multi-trip cover.
- 3. What activities in Thailand will you take part in? If you plan on motorcycling in Phuket, make sure your travel insurance policy provides cover and you follow the appropriate rules.
- 4. Are you taking valuable items? Consider extra cover for expensive cameras and electronics.
- 5. Do you have any medical conditions? Make you declare any pre-existing medical conditions and make sure your policy covers medical cover.
- 6. Do you prefer paying more upfront or only when you have to clam? Look at both the price of the policy and excess required for claims.
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*Price based on quote for basic policy for a two week trip for 46 year old traveller. Please note that prices are subject to change.