Thailand lures thousands of Aussies to its shores with its stunning scenery and exotic culture. Before you head off make sure you're covered on the off-chance a Thai-tanic disaster strikes.
It'll only take a few short minutes to compare and get covered, so you can hit the beaches with as little care in the world as possible.
Must read: Last updated 2 July 2019
The Thai government may be introducing compulsory travel insurance for all tourists to cover up to 1 million Thai Baht (approx. $46,804AUD) in cases of death. This can be purchased at the immigration offices at the airport for about 20 Baht ($0.94AUD), but remember, it doesn't cover you for other travel-related expenses - that's what travel insurance is for!
What does travel insurance cover me for in Thailand?
Travel insurance can save having to fork out extra cash in the event you're injured or your personal items are lost or stolen. It can cover you for the following:
Medical and evacuation expenses. More Aussies are hospitalised or killed in Thailand than any other travel destination according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). With no reciprocal health care arrangement and a lower standard of health care, it's one destination you don't want to be without travel medical cover. If you require private hospital care then upfront payments are required, which your travel insurance typically foots so you're not out of pocket. Without insurance, you'll incur this cost yourself.
Extreme activities. High-risk activities like jet-skiing, bungee jumping and scuba diving are popular in Thailand. Cover for these activities can be added as extras to your travel insurance policy.
Loss or damage of personal property. Thailand is known for petty crimes such as theft. Travel insurance can ensure you'll be compensated if your items are lost or stolen.
Cancellations or changes to your planned journeys. If you need to cancel plans completely or come home early, policies with cancellation protection can foot the bill.
Personal accident and liability protection. In the event you cause injury to another person or property, liability protection can cover your legal costs.
What extra cover can I get for Thailand?
Basic travel insurance policies cover medical and property loss, but exclude risky activities such as adventure sports. If you're undertaking the activities below, you may like to consider adding extra cover to your policy:
Motorcycle or moped riding
Emergency dental treatment
Expensive cameras or computers
Funeral expenses (dying overseas can be expensive for your loved ones at home and this is not typically included in basic cover)
The Full Moon Party is one of the most sought out parties for young Australian travellers. It is held at every full moon on the island of Ko Pha Ngan, a party mecca that attracts the same safety concerns as any night out, including excessive drinking and drug taking, which can put your safety in danger.
While the unexpected can happen everywhere, deliberate actions that risk your safety can void your travel insurance. These include:
Overconsumption. The buckets might be cheap but overconsumption can lead to intoxication and if you injure yourself or lose your valuables, you will not be covered. This includes drink driving if you've hired a car or scooter.
Shroom Shakes and other drugs. Drugs are not hard to find on Koh Pha Ngan. Buying drugs in Thailand can lead to a set-up forcing you to bribe corrupt cops, or worse, the Thai legal system. Anything that happens to you while under influence of drugs is not claimable under travel insurance.
The Burning Rope. Playing with a skipping rope that is literally on fire can lead to injuries and will exclude your travel insurance cover.
To stay safe while still having a good time at the Full Moon Party we encourage you to:
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 asleep on the beach. You're asking to have your valuables stolen.
Many insurers exclude adventure and contact sport cover as these are dangerous and can increase the risk of you making a claim.
Despite this, certain insurers do offer sports packs that provide some cover if you're looking to channel your inner adrenaline junkie in Thailand.
For example, Columbus Direct offers an optional Sports Leisure Pack, which provides waterski cover and basic boxing training. This means you can hit pads and bags, practice speed drills and fight movements in a Thai kickboxing gym, but cannot undertake contact sparring against another person.
To answer the question, the best thing to do is contact a range of insurers to find out if they'll cover your intended sports and then compare their features and benefits.
Travel insurance exclusions
Unfortunately, travel insurance can't cover you for everything and common exclusions across the board include:
Dangerous activities. This can include activities such as sky diving, scuba diving, motorbike riding or hot air ballooning. Specific excluded activities vary per insurer and if yours doesn't cover your desired activity it's best you inquire about additional cover.
Country exclusions. Certain policies exclude specific countries. If you're visiting other countries on your trip, ensure your policy covers them.
Working exclusions. Many travel insurance policies cover recreational travellers only. If you plan to work while overseas check the policy covers you or seek out additional cover.
Contributory negligence. While you may be covered if your 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 be denied cover for it.
Reckless behaviour. Excessive drinking, drug taking and any other deliberate behaviour that puts you in danger can void your claim.
Ignoring government advice. If the Australian government has issued warnings advising against travelling to Thailand, your policy will not cover you if anything happens to you. Keep on top of safety updates and warnings with Smarttraveller.
How much does Thailand travel insurance cost?
As mentioned above, it's possible to be covered for incidents and accidents for as little as $2 per day.
That's the rock-bottom price for a 25-year-old travelling for 15 days, but insurance costs differ depending on your age, travel dates and type of cover.
Instead of looking at price alone, we looked at 10,000 quotes requested through finder's quote engine and discovered that the most common Thailand travellers are 46–55 years old. They tend to ditch the bare-bones basic cover for more generous cover, spending an average of $72.69 per policy, which is more than enough to purchase comprehensive cover for a 14-day trip.
What does a policy for 46–55 year olds travelling to Thailand look like?
We peg the average policy spend and what it can get you against the most basic cover available to see exactly what it includes... and what it does not.
Average costing policy for $72.69
Basic policy at $32.13*
Alternative travel expenses
Luggage and personal effects daily allowance
Overseas emergency medical assistance
Cancellation fees and lost deposits
$5,000 for family emergencies
Luggage and personal effects
Overseas emergency medical and hospital expenses
Default excess on claims
Data last confirmed as correct 31 Aug 2018. *Price based on quote for basic policy for a 2-week trip for 46-year-old traveller. Please note that prices are subject to change.
How to stay safe in Thailand
Thailand poses numerous safety risks ranging from petty theft and drink spiking to motorcycle accidents and an unstable political climate. While not all can be helped, you can reduce these risks by being vigilant and keeping these safety tips in mind:
Keep abreast of the political situation: Visitors to Thailand should be vigilant to avoid dangerous situations such as the recent bombings in Bangkok. DFAT warns visitors to be aware of the political climate and any warnings issued by the Australian government before leaving home and while in Thailand.
Take care when riding motorcycles. Motorcycle or moped riding is common in Thailand, for tourists and locals alike. They may not check when hiring one or the other, but if you don't have a licence and are involved in an accident, know that you won't be covered by your travel insurance policy.
Watch your drink. Drink spiking is a common occurrence. Keep your drink with you at all times and refrain from excessive alcohol consumption as this makes you more of a target and can lead to hospitalisation.
Know the laws and customs. Tourists are not always welcome in some areas and local laws and customs need to be respected and observed. Some you should observe, should you wish to avoid legal fees your insurer won't cover are:
Don't do drugs: Thailand has no-tolerance laws for possession and supply of illicit drugs. Participating in drug-related activity can result in the death sentence.
Don't deface the image of the king: This includes Thai money. The maximum jail time for this offence is up to 15 years imprisonment.
Don't drink in public places: It is illegal to drink in temples, pharmacies, parks, petrol stations, schools and universities. Breaking this law can land you six months jail time.
Don't bribe the cops: Even though some people do it, bribery is illegal and can lead to jail time.
Drinks literally come served in buckets at the Full Moon Party.
Beware of scams. Common scams in the country include:
Fake airport taxis. From pretending to get lost to simply overcharging, dodgy drivers can hurt your hip pocket. Make sure to never get into an unmarked vehicle and always 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. If you use this method of travel 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, such as shoplifting or breaking the road rules, 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 offering to sell you gems at a highly discounted price, be sceptical. Whatever you end up purchasing will likely be worthless or never make it to your shipping address.
The stolen scooter scam. You rent a motorbike or scooter, pay a deposit and hand over your passport. 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 to replace it. Don't leave your bike unattended or travel further away from the place of hire to avoid this one.
Six steps to comparing travel insurance for Thailand
When selecting the level of travel insurance for Thailand ask yourself these six questions:
Where in Thailand are you going? Some parts of Thailand can be dangerous and prone to cancellations, for example, the border with Malaysia. Make sure you are covered for any questionable regions.
How many times will you visit Thailand this year? Decide on single trip or annual multi-trip cover.
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.
Are you taking valuable items? Consider extra cover for expensive cameras and electronics.
Do you have any medical conditions? Declare any pre-existing medical conditions and make sure your policy covers medical cover.
Do you prefer paying more upfront or only when you have to claim? Look at both the price of the policy and excess required for claims.
Thailand travel insurance FAQs
Travel insurance protects you from risks that could not only ruin your trip, but ruin you financially. Having travel insurance is especially important in a developing country with different rules, risk factors and language. At $2 per day for basic cover, it's not as expensive as you may think.
Medical cover is the most important element of a travel insurance policy. If you have particularly valuable belongings or plan to do any adventurous activities you should look for additional cover or you won't be reimbursed for costs incurred in the event you need medical care.
Yes, providing they weren't left unattended and you notify the Thai authorities within 24 hours and obtain a written report from them.
Policies cannot be extended. Instead, you will need to purchase a new policy prior to the expiry date of the original policy to cover the extra days.
As soon as you've paid for your trip to Thailand. This ensures you're covered for cancellation and loss of deposit from that moment.
Anyone who is an Australian permanent resident up to 100 years old.
All travel insurance policies come with a 14-day cooling off period, allowing you to cancel your policy for a full refund providing you have not begun your trip or made any claims.
In the event of an incident, contact your travel insurance provider immediately. You will need to provide necessary paperwork to support your claim, which can include proof of purchase and the police report (if an item is lost or stolen) and doctor's certificates or medical invoices if you're claiming for medical. Your insurer will advise if there's anything more you need to provide and process your claim accordingly. Read our Travel Insurance Claims guide for further details.
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As Group Publisher for Insurance and Utilities, Zahra Campbell-Avenell leads a team of over 15 experts to deliver on Finder’s mission to help Australians make better financial decisions. Zahra has a Bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University in Washington DC, with a double major in Anthropology and English. She has worked for companies such as Booking.com and Bank of America, as well as a number of non-profit organisations.
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