When you’re planning your visit to Thailand, it’s understandable that travel insurance might not be high up on your list of priorities. Although it might not be an exciting part of your pre-trip preparation, travel insurance is an essential part of any Thailand packing list. If you need medical assistance while you’re in Thailand, having the right insurance cover can make all the difference for you and your loved ones.
Cost of medical treatment in Thailand
There is no free healthcare for tourists visiting Thailand. If you need medical treatment, you need to pay for it. The British or Irish embassy in Bangkok will not pay your medical bills. This is why travel insurance — and the right type of insurance — is so important. To give you an idea of costs involved:
- £17,000 – £30,000 if you have a road accident in Thailand and need surgery and medical repatriation back to the UK or Ireland
- £250 – £2,300 (plus extra costs if new return flight booking needed) if you have a stomach bug or infection treated in a hospital in Thailand
- £570 – £2,000 (plus extra costs if new return flight booking needed) if you catch dengue fever during your travels
Prices above are estimates based on figures supplied from Bangkok Hospital and Bumrungrad Hospital. Exact cost of treatment can vary depending on various factors including severity of condition and location in Thailand.
Buying travel insurance
When shopping around for travel insurance, carefully check what the insurers do and don’t cover and make sure it meets your own needs. It might be tedious, but always check the small print for policy exclusions. For example, adventurous activities like ziplining or rafting may be excluded. And if you’re going away on a longer trip, some insurance policies won’t cover you once you’ve been away from your home country for more than 30 days.
The importance of the right insurance
On Boxing Day 2022, Adam Davies from Pembrokeshire was badly injured in a motorbike accident on the Thai island of Ko Tao. Although Adam had worldwide travel insurance through Lloyds Bank, the insurers did not pay his medical expenses because he had been away from the UK for more than 30 days.
Adam’s family managed to raise £20,000 to pay for his medical treatment in Thailand, but have urged other travellers to carefully check their travel insurance policies.
A spokesperson for Lloyds Bank, Adam’s insurer, said: “We would always encourage customers looking to travel abroad for an extended period of time to check the terms and conditions of their insurance, whether that’s been provided through their bank account or purchased separately.”
Full story: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-64187351
- The Association of British Insurers (ABI) website has some general advice to help travellers choose the right insurance.
- The Money Advice Service is another useful resource to help travellers make informed decisions on travel insurance. They also have specific advice for older travellers or those with pre-existing medical conditions.
- There are some good pointers too from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). Travellers to Thailand can also sign up for travel alerts with FCDO.
When you travel to Thailand, take your insurance policy details with you. It can be helpful to save a screenshot of your passport details, policy number and your insurer’s emergency assistance telephone number. Leaving those same details with your travel partner or friends or family at home can also be helpful.
The danger on Thailand’s roads
There is no sugar-coating the fact that Thailand has a poor road safety record:
- In 2017, Thailand’s roads were considered the second most dangerous in the world after Libya.
- In 2018, WHO reported that Thailand’s road collision-related death rate was 32.7 people out of every 100,000. This compared to 2.8 in Singapore and 2.9 in the UK.
We get the appeal of driving a motorbike on holiday and the freedom it can bring when you’re exploring tropical island destinations like Ko Samui and Ko Pha Ngan. But if you have no experience of riding a motorbike, Thailand’s public roads are not the place to learn. Unfortunately, too many travellers find out the hard way.
If you do drive a car or ride a motorbike in Thailand, you need to have the correct licence and appropriate insurance for your vehicle. Tourists from the UK or Ireland will need a valid driving licence from their home country and an international driving permit. If you don’t have this and you drive and are involved in a road accident it may invalidate your travel insurance. Find out more about road safety in Thailand here.
- Plan your trip to Thailand
- Choosing the right insurance
- Travel insurance directory
- Travel insurance advice (UK government)
- Travel alerts (UK government)
- Travel Aware (UK government) | FCDO travel advice (Facebook) | FCDO travel advice (Twitter)
- Department of Foreign Affairs, Ireland (Thailand advice)
- Embassy of Ireland, Thailand
- Thailand road safety advice
- Bringing prescribed drugs into Thailand
- What to pack for your Thailand trip
- Thailand do’s and don’ts
- 21 ways to be a responsible tourist in Thailand
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