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Fancy a holiday to Thailand? It’s an absolute jewel of a country, with bustling markets to explore, great beaches to relax on and plenty of delectable food to devour.

Getting a travel insurance plan for your trip to Thailand is a smart move. It can provide you with the financial protection you require if you have to cancel your plans due to food poisoning or an injury from a tour you’ve been on.

No one wants their holidays ruined, that’s why travel insurance can help ease your mind so you can do what you do best on holidays, whether that’s adventuring, relaxing or even just shopping!

Here’s everything you need to know about getting covered

Do I need travel insurance for Thailand?

The first thing many travellers ask themselves is, ‘Do I really need travel insurance? I’ve never needed to claim before’. It’s a fair question.

More than 521,000 Australians visited Thailand in 2019-2020.1 Of those, there were 162 hospitalisations and 13 victims of an assault crime. You can bet that some of these tourists had to use their insurance policies.

Should something like this happen to you while on holiday, you’d want the peace of mind of knowing you’re covered for the often-exorbitant cost of medical bills.

Travel insurance for Thailand

What can travel insurance cover in Thailand?

Here are six common situations that you may need to claim for when overseas in Thailand. Every insurer and policy is different, so make sure you read the exclusions in your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) carefully before taking out insurance.

Cutting your trip short

Something may happen on your trip or back at home that forces you to abandon your holiday. If this is the case, your insurer may cover the journey back home and a host of other trip cancellations and amendment fees.

Here are some examples of where you could be covered:

  • You or a travelling partner requires repatriation or emergency medical evacuation due to a serious medical condition
  • A family member’s illness or death requires you to fly back immediately
  • Your home in Australia is severely damaged.

Theft of luggage and cash

If your belongings are stolen, you can make a claim provided you report the incident within 24 hours to the insurer and the local police. You will be limited in how much you can claim back, which will be outlined in your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS).

Medical expenses and emergency assistance

Australia has no Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA) with Thailand; this means you can’t access subsidised emergency healthcare in this country. However, your travel policy may be able to ensure you receive medical treatment for urgent health conditions, without having to worry about the costs!

Rental vehicle excess

You may have to pay an excess (an agreed fee) if you damage or get in an accident with your rental vehicle. However, your travel policy may look after (or contribute to) paying the excess payment, depending on your level of cover.

Travel delays and amendments

If you’re delayed and miss something important on your itinerary (whether it’s a trip to the Wat Phra Kaew temple or scuba diving in Ko Tao), your policy may cover the lost deposits, cancellation fees and other similar expenses.

Natural disasters can also strike at any time. You may be covered for any cancellation fees regarding a natural disaster in Thailand so it’s a good idea to talk to your travel insurance representative to see what you should do in the case of a natural disaster.

Loss or theft of travel documents and credit cards

Many insurance policies cover the cost to replace lost passports or credit cards (up to the limits of your cover).

What should my travel insurance policy for Thailand include?

Your travel insurer may not automatically cover you for adventure activities like motorcycling, which is popular in Thailand. However, many insurers offer this cover as an optional extra you can purchase to add to your policy.

If you’re planning on participating in these types of activities and sports, you should ask your insurer to include these extras in your policy, if available. You may end up paying a little more on your premium, but peace of mind is priceless. You should also ensure that legal or personal liability is included in your cover, in case you cause injury, death or damage to someone else or their property.

If your kids are travelling with you, your insurer will most likely cover them under the same policy. All you need to do is let the insurer know that your dependents will be accompanying you. If your kids are travelling alone, you will have to take out cover (probably an adult policy) for them.

Thailand travel insurance: Exclusions and what to watch out for

Several factors may influence your ability to claim on your insurance, such as your actions while on the trip or your health status before taking out your policy. These are called exclusions.

Be on the lookout for these standard exclusions in your policy, including:

  • Excluded activities. Perhaps you want to go motorcycling or scuba diving. You need to check that your policy will cover these kinds of activities, or else risk not being able to claim. Insurers may not even cover something as simple as trekking! If you do want to partake in these activities, they can sometimes be included in your coverage as extras when you first take out your policy.
  • Unattended belongings. If you’ve left your belongings unattended, your policy may not cover any loss or damage that happens to them. In fact, some insurers won’t cover the theft of certain items if left in a motor vehicle! As a rule, keep an eye on your belongings at all times, and make good use of hotel safes.
  • Pre-existing medical conditions. Although some insurers may cover a wide range of conditions, travel insurance doesn’t typically cover pre-existing conditions. If you do have a pre-existing condition, be sure to tell your insurer to see if they will cover you for an extra cost. The same is true if you were to fall ill because you failed to get properly vaccinated before you left, or because you didn’t take the right medication while you were there.
  • Accidents while under the influence. If you’re intoxicated or have taken drugs, you may automatically be exempt from claiming. Keep it clean while you’re over there and you won’t have to worry about this

Make sure you read the exclusions in your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) carefully before taking out insurance.

Driving in Thailand with an Australian licence

You need to have a current Australian driver’s licence to drive in Thailand. However, some rental car agencies may require an International Driving Permit (IDP) instead, which is effectively a translation of your original licence. You can apply for an IDP online.

There are many similarities between Australia and Thailand in terms of driving, including:

  • Mandatory seatbelts
  • Driving on the left side of the road
  • A blood alcohol content (BAC) limit of 0.05 g per 100 millilitres of blood
  • You must be over 18 years old to drive.

Is Thailand safe?

Generally speaking, Thailand can be a safe place to visit if you exercise some common sense. Although, you should always check the travel warnings for your destination on Smartraveller before departing home and while you’re over there.

Here are a few things you should keep in mind during your stay.

Be careful when you hire jet skis and motorbikes

Motorbiking, scootering and jet-skiing in Thailand are pretty common practices for Australian tourists. However, people have reported being harassed or threatened with violence by operators and gangs, who demand compensation for seemingly damaged hired goods.

Additionally, any accidents you have as a result of driving these vehicles may not be covered under your policy – and let us tell you, driving on roads in Bangkok is an experience not for the faint of heart! Take photos of any vehicle you hire beforehand. Learn more about scooter, motorcycle and moped cover.

Beware of petty theft

Petty theft such as pick-pocketing, is common in Thailand, especially in cheap accommodation and busy areas like markets. Keep valuables and personal effects locked up, safe and out of sight (e.g. hotel safes) and be constantly vigilant when in transit.

Be vigilant against drink spiking

Under no circumstances should you accept a drink from someone you don’t know or leave your drinks unattended. Drink spiking is particularly common in the night-time entertainment zones in Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket.

Understand Thailand’s stance on drugs

Thailand has taken a hard-line approach on drugs, like countries such as Singapore and Indonesia. According to Smartraveller, punishments for drug offences can include the death penalty, and possession or supply of even small quantities of recreational drugs can result in harsh jail sentences.2

Whether you agree or disagree with that, you’re bound by their laws while travelling.

Keep an eye out for scams

Tourists are easy to spot for anyone looking to make a dishonest dollar. These scams could include taxi and tuk-tuk tours, which may charge you exorbitant prices for sub-standard services or goods.

If you are involved in an incident, contact emergency services (e.g. police, ambulance), and then your insurer. You can also contact the Australian Embassy in Thailand if you get into any particularly thorny issues.

Man covered by travel insurance for Thailand, looking at a view of archipelagos

When’s the best time to visit Thailand?

If you’d prefer to avoid Thailand’s wet season (which can bring severe storms and flooding), the best time to visit the country will depend on which part you want to visit.

In north and central Thailand, the wet season occurs from May to October, so a great time to visit those parts would be during the warm and bright summer months.2 However, the southern peninsular of Thailand experiences their wet season from November to March.

You might want to decide where you want to go in Thailand before deciding on the best time to visit.

Tips for travelling in Thailand

Don’t deface or defile any image of the King (even on their money)

Anything that insults the revered Thai monarchy is considered a crime and could get you thrown in jail for up to 15 years.2

Be cautious when travelling in turbulent regions

Some provinces throughout Thailand experience violence and bombings, especially in border regions. As such, check for travel warnings on Smartraveller before you enter Thailand, and exercise caution depending on where you travel.

Never use your passport as a deposit or guarantee for a hire

You may be asked to provide your passport as a deposit or guarantee when hiring things like motorcycles. As a blanket rule, do not, under any circumstances, provide your passport when hiring something, and be extremely careful who you hand your passport to in general.

Stick to your visa limits

As an Australian tourist, you may be eligible for visa-free entry to Thailand for up to 30 days if you’ve entered through an international airport, or up to 15 days if you’ve entered through a land border.2 You’ll need to apply for a visa if you’re staying for longer or visiting Thailand for non-tourism purposes.

There are strict penalties for visa offences. If you overstay your visa, you will not be allowed to leave Thailand until you’ve paid a fine. You may also be arrested, prosecuted, jailed, deported and banned from re-entering Thailand. Be sure to notify the Thai Immigration Bureau if you plan to stay more than 90 days.

Stephen Zeller, General Manager

Insurance tips from Stephen Zeller, General Manager of General Insurance at Compare the Market

  • Insure your trip as soon as possible. By taking out a policy as soon as you book your trip to Thailand, you could be covered for cancellations or travel amendments that happen before you even take off.
  • Consider annual cover. If you fly away to Thailand (or indeed anywhere) several times a year, an annual or multi-trip policy is well worth considering. That way, you don’t need new insurance every time you head off.
  • Make copies of your important documents. Leave the copies of these documents (e.g. passport, insurance) with someone at home, just in case anything goes missing or you need assistance overseas.

Compare travel insurance for Thailand to find great-value cover

If you’re heading to Thailand or other parts of Asia, make sure you take out a suitable travel insurance policy. You may not think you need it, but, as we mentioned earlier, why take the risk?

Not sure where to look for a travel insurance policy? Our simple travel insurance comparison service is a great place to start. After you enter a few details, you can compare a range of travel insurance policies available from a host of insurers.

And, as always, register your trip on Smartraveller before leaving. If you’ve caught the travel bug, check out our destination guide for travel insurance.

Sources

1 Australian Government: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – Consular State of Play 2019-2020. Published September 2020. Accessed November 2021.
2 Australian Government: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – Thailand. Last updated November 2021. Accessed November 2021.

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