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So, you’ve decided to holiday in 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.

With such a holiday comes a tiny bit of risk; you might get food poisoning during a culinary adventure at those markets, perhaps you slip on some rocks by the water before going for a swim, or lose your luggage at the airport before you even have a chance to explore.

Getting travel insurance for your trip to Thailand is a smart move. That way, you can get back to 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 and one that is easily answered.

More than 500,000 Australians visited Thailand in 2017-18. Of those, there were 204 hospitalisations, 13 reports of theft, and – tragically – 238 deaths. In total, there were 967 cases where the Australian consulate had to intervene in Thailand.

You can bet that some of these tourists had to utilise their insurance policies.

Smartraveller elaborates on the importance of insurance, stating that:

“Travellers without travel insurance are personally liable for covering any medical and associated costs they incur. The Australian Government won’t pay for your medical treatment overseas or medical evacuation to Australia or a third country.”

You may never need to claim, but why risk it when travel insurance can be so affordable?

What you can get covered for

Here are some common things you may need to claim on when overseas in Thailand.

  • 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 Your policy may also cover a host of cancellation and amendment fees. Here are two examples where you’ d be covered:
    • You or a partner cannot continue the holiday due to a serious medical condition
    • Your business/home in Australia is severely
  • 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).
  • Hospital expenses and emergency assistance. Australia has no reciprocal health care arrangement with Thailand, meaning you can’t access subsidised healthcare in this country. However, your travel policy may be able to ensure you are treated for medically urgent health conditions, without having to worry about the costs!
  • Rental vehicle excess. You may have to pay an excess if you 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.If, for any reason, 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 lost deposits, cancelation fees, etc.
  • Loss or theft of travel documents & credit cards.Don’t stress too much if you lose your credit cards or passport, because it’s included in many insurance policies.

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 they’ll be accompanying you. If your kids are travelling alone, you will have to take out cover (probably an adult policy) for them.

What should my travel insurance policy for Thailand include?

Your travel insurer may not cover you for adventure activities like motorcycling, which is popular in Thailand, but this may be available as an optional extra. If you are planning on participating in these types of activities and sports, you should definitely ask your insurer to include these extras, if available, on your policy. You may end up paying a little more on your premium, but peace of mind is priceless.

Sergei and Aleks Compare travel insurance

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 prior. These are called exclusions.

Be on the lookout for these common exclusions in your policy:

  • 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. Even something as simple as ‘trekking’ may not be covered! If you do want to partake in these activities, they can sometimes be included in your coverage as extras when first getting insured.
  • Unattended belongings. If you’ve left your belongings unattended, your policy may not cover the loss. In fact, some insurers’ policies won’t cover the theft of certain items if left in a motor vehicle! As a general rule, keep an eye on your stuff at all times, and make good use of hotel safes.
  • Pre-existing medical conditions.These are generally not covered by travel insurance, nor are illnesses you contract by failing to get properly vaccinated before you leave or taking the right medication while you’re there.
  • Actions undertaken 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 exclusion.

Exclusions are plainly listed in your product disclosure statement (PDS), so make sure you read this carefully when taking out insurance.

Is Thailand safe?

Generally speaking, Thailand can be a fairly safe place to visit if you exercise some common sense, although you should always check the travel warnings for your destination on Smartraveller. Here are a few things you should keep in mind during your stay.

  • Hiring jet skis and motorbikes in Thailand is a pretty common practice for Aussie tourists. However, Aussies have reported being harassed or threatened with violence by operators (or 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.
  • Petty theft is common in Thailand, especially in cheap accommodation, and busy areas like markets. Keep valuables locked up, safe and out of sight (e.g. hotel safes), and be constantly vigilant when in transit.
  • Drink spiking is common in the night-time entertainment zones in Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket. Under no circumstances should you accept a drink from someone you don’t know or leave your drinks unattended.
  • In the war on drugs, Thailand has taken a hardline approach. According to Smartraveller, penalties 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. Whether you agree or disagree with that, you’re bound by their laws while travelling.
  • Look out for several Thailand scams, because 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 tourist with backpack are looking at the beautiful natural landscape of the sea on peak view point of Ko Wua Ta Lap island in Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park, Surat Thani, Thailand

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, then the best time to visit the country will depend on which part of it you 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. 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.

Top travel tips for Thailand

1. 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 regions under martial law

Martial law is still in place in many provinces throughout Thailand, especially border regions. As such, check for travel warning on Smartraveller before you leave, and exercise caution depending on where you travel.

3. Drinking in public isn’t permitted by law

There are plenty of great bars and hotels to visit, so there’s no need to drink out on the streets.

4. Never use your passport as a deposit or guarantee for a hire/lease

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.

5. 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. 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.

Compare travel insurance for Thailand

If you’re heading to Thailand soon, 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. Within minutes of entering just a few details, you can peruse and compare a selection of travel insurance policies available to you.

And, as always, register your trip on Smartraveller.gov.au before leaving. If you’d like to travel elsewhere, check out our destination guide for travel insurance.

Sources:

Australian Government: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – Consular State of Play 2017-18, September 2018.

Australian Government: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – Travel insurance. Published on Smartraveller.gov.au.

© Commonwealth of Australia. Department of Human Services – Reciprocal health care agreements. Updated May 2018.

Australian Government: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – Thailand. Published on Smartraveller.gov.au, updated March 2019.

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