Do I need travel insurance for Thailand?
Travel insurance is vital if you’re planning a holiday to Thailand. It will protect you – and pay costs – if you fall ill, have an accident, lose your baggage or something is stolen while you’re there, all mishaps which might otherwise have pricy consequences.
Travel cover also provides financial protection if you need to cut short or cancel your trip in an emergency – knowing you’re covered means you can relax and enjoy your holiday.
What type of travel insurance do you need for Thailand?
Trips to Thailand are covered by most worldwide travel insurance policies. It should fall into one of the following categories:
- One holiday just to Thailand: If you are only taking one trip, select single-trip travel insurance with Thailand as your destination
- One trip to Thailand and other countries: If you are visiting other countries during the same trip, select multi-trip insurance and then pick each country you plan to visit as multiple destinations. If you are backpacking, select backpackers’ insurance
- Several holidays throughout the year that include the USA, Canada or the Caribbean: You might be able to save money by selecting an annual multi-trip travel insurance policy. If you plan to visit the USA, Canada or somewhere the Caribbean, you need to select a worldwide policy that covers these countries
- Several holidays throughout the year that do not include the USA, Canada or the Caribbean: Again, you could save by selecting an annual multi-trip travel insurance policy. If you don’t plan to visit the USA, Canada or the Caribbean, you can select a worldwide policy that excludes those countries
According to Rock Insurance data collected between 2018 and 2019
What should your Thailand travel insurance include?
A good travel insurance policy should include the following:
- Cover for medical expenses, usually up to a limit of £5m
- Cover for the cost of bringing you back to the UK, otherwise known as ‘repatriation’
- Cover for the cancellation or curtailment of your holiday, in case you have to head home earlier than planned or an emergency prevents you from going in the first place
- Delay and missed departure cover, in case events beyond your control (such as a car breakdown) cause you to miss your flight
- Travel abandonment cover, for unusual circumstances where the journey to your destination becomes unfeasible
- Baggage cover, in case your belongings are lost or stolen during your trip. Make sure you include cover for any particularly costly items you’ll have with you, such as jewellery
- Passport cover, because getting a replacement for a lost or stolen passport while abroad can be both complicated and costly
- Personal liability cover, protects you in case something you do causes injury to someone else, or the loss or damage of their possessions
Thai travel insurance: Exclusions and what to watch out for
Many standard travel insurance policies won’t include the following:
- If you have a pre-existing medical condition, or you’ve had one in the past for which you’ve received advice or treatment, you may find you’re charged a higher premium. You might even have to take out a special policy for pre-existing conditions
- Cover for unexpected incidents that may affect your holiday, like civil unrest, war, terrorism and natural disasters
- Cover for accidents or injuries that can be linked to you drinking too much
- Cover for travel to locations that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has said British holidaymakers should avoid
- Cover for accidents or injuries that happen during sporting activities such as skiing and snowboarding. If you know you’ll be doing something adventurous, check to make sure you have adventure cover in place first
How much should my travel insurance excess be?
The excess on your travel insurance is the amount you will have to pay before your travel insurance company will pay out on a claim. While a higher excess might reduce the cost of your cover, you shouldn’t increase it to the point that you wouldn’t be able to afford it if you made a claim.
When should my travel insurance policy start from?
Start your travel insurance policy from the day you book your trip, not from the date when you are planning to travel. If you delay the start of your policy, you will not be covered if you unexpectedly need to cancel.
Health and vaccines
While there are excellent private hospitals in Thailand, the public health system isn't as advanced as the UK's, especially outside the larger cities - and medical facilities will ask you to prove up front that you have health insurance or can pay for treatment.
Regarding vaccines, visitors to Thailand should make sure they're up to date with their routine boosters in the UK. This means making sure you have your measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (MMR), and a tetanus booster - which will also protect you from diptheria. There's no yellow fever in Thailand, but isolated incidents of rabies have been reported, and the Foreign Office advises travellers to avoid direct contact with wild animals. Likewise, dengue fever is present, and you should try to bring mosquito repellent.
Certain UK medications are strictly controlled in Thailand, while others are more freely available. It's best to check in advance whether any medications you take are controlled, while you should also be careful when buying things like Viagra or Valium on the street in Thailand - it might be fake, or you might not be able to tolerate it for other reasons.
Top travel tips for Thailand
Thailand is the quintessential country for people who want to find themselves. There’s something about the mixture of gorgeous beaches, the party atmosphere and the incredible religious architecture that makes the country so compelling.
There is so much to see and do there that we couldn’t possibly summarise it all here, but MoneySuperMarket has collected a few essential tips for Thailand below:
- When to visit: Thailand is perhaps at its most beautiful between December and April, but it’s worth a visit at any time of year – even the rainy season, which runs from July to October
- Drinks on the roof: Bangkok is the archetypal city that never sleeps. There are a million things to see and do, savoury and otherwise, but you’ll definitely want to take it all in from one of the city’s many rooftop bars
- Country of smiles: Thailand is known as ‘the country of smiles’ for a good reason, so make sure you grin back. What you shouldn’t do, on the other hand, is touch anyone on the head, or show anyone the soles of your feet
- Don’t mention the monarchy: To say Thais are protective of their king is an understatement, so don’t be critical in any way
- Take in a temple: Thailand is rightly famous for its temples, many of which are unfathomably beautiful. There are too many treasures to mention here, but you can’t go wrong with Wat Pho and Wat Phra Kaeo in Bangkok, and Wat Phra Si Sanphet in Ayutthaya. Be sure to cover up; women especially mustn’t show cleavage, upper arms or legs. Monks are highly revered and must be respected – and definitely don’t touch them!
- Street food: Thailand is rightly famous for its incredible street food markets, and you should eat at them as often as possible. The usual rules apply though, so eat where the local people go – and wash your hands!
- How to get around: Thailand is also famous for its gridlock, especially in the capital. There’s an app called Grab which can help you catch taxis, but the MRT and BTS railways are pretty nifty
- Songkran: Thai New Year has to be seen to be believed. There are celebrations, a festival and huge water fights. It’s impossible to stay dry, but that’s all part of the fun
- Bug spray: Trust us – you’ll want to bring mosquito repellent
- Drinking water: Always drink bottled water; it might be bad for the environment, but the tap water is definitely going to be worse for your stomach. It’s a hot country, so make sure you drink a lot of water to avoid dehydration and sunstroke
- Steer clear of mopeds: Hiring one of the millions of scooters in Thailand is extremely dangerous and best avoided. If you absolutely must ride around on one, check whether your insurer will cover you – they’ll expect you to have a UK license, to obey the local laws and to ride with a helmet at the very least, and Thai insurance will be woefully inadequate
- Animal welfare: Be wary of the elephant and tiger attractions which dot the country, as the animals are often drugged, beaten or both. If you’re absolutely desperate to meet some magnificent beasts, however, do your research a reputable sanctuary which takes the welfare of its charges seriously
Compare travel insurance policies before you buy
While travel insurance for Thailand is a necessity, the price of a policy varies. Different companies will sell the same level of cover at completely different prices, so it’s important to compare before you buy.
MoneySuperMarket’s comparison tool asks you a few simple questions about you and your holiday: where you are going, how long for and what you want your policy to cover, and in just a couple of minutes you can compare prices from a range of leading travel insurers.