Thailand could make travel insurance compulsory

Changes likely to come into effect later this year

Tourists may soon have to buy a special policy at the airport
Tourists may soon have to buy a special policy at the airport

Thailand is considering making travel insurance compulsory, with tourists obliged to buy a special policy from the airport.

The new policy, which would cost 20 baht (52p) for 30 days’ cover, is likely to be rolled out later this year, according to the Thai Office of the Insurance Commission.

All proceeds would go to Thailand’s Tourism Promotion Fund and used to cover payments in the event of a claim, said secretary-general Suthiphon Thaveechaiyagarn.

The scheme will need approval from the Tourism and Sports Ministry (TASM) in order to go ahead.

The policy, available to purchase at immigration offices at Thailand’s airports, would offer up to 1 million baht (£26,000) of cover in case of death.

Following a number of incidents involving visitors, including a boat accident that killed 47 Chinese tourists off the coast of Phuket in 2018, the idea of compulsory insurance is designed to reassure travellers and build their confidence when visiting the country.

China is the biggest tourist market for Thailand, with more than a quarter of its annual 38 million visitors being Chinese.

Another scheme being piloted in Thailand’s Nakhon Nayok province makes it mandatory for tour operators to provide insurance to cover customers and tour guides.

Nakorn Nayok attracted 2.1 million tourists last year thanks to its plethora of outdoor activities, including rafting, climbing and biking.

”We’ve encouraged local tour operators to take out insurance for their customers, to provide them protection in case of accidents or death,“ Thaveechaiyagarn told the Bangkok Post.

Tour operators must now provide tourists with cover of at least 1 million baht (£26,000) in case of death and 500,000 baht (£13,000) in case of injury.

Failure to comply could result in a 500,000 baht fine for the tour operator.

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Consumers are being advised to buy their own insurance even when the new compulsory policy is rolled out.

“Though this policy may be a compulsory purchase, it should not be used as a replacement for travel insurance,” Fiona Macrae, head of Travel Insurance Explained, said.

“We encourage everyone who is travelling abroad to ensure they are covered for all aspects of their trip, including but not limited to: medical expenses, cancellation and curtailment and personal possessions. Information released at this moment in time explained Thailand’s compulsory policy only covers in cases of death.

“As travel insurance is not a one size fits all approach, we encourage travellers to read their policy wording to ensure the policy is suitable for their trip and needs.”

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