Thailand Considering Making Travel Insurance Compulsory


Thailand’s been getting a lot of extra press coverage recently, and not always for its Koh Tao villas or its Bangkok nightlife; not the reasons the Kingdom’s hoping for.

Following the trapping and the heroic rescue of a football club, comprised of 12 young Thai boys and their coach, earlier in July from Chiang Rai’s RhamLuang cave, Thailand has been caught in a series of tragedies and accidents, one after the other.

One notable example is the tragic boating accident in the south, when the Phoenix sank off the coast of Phuket, resulting in the death of 47 people, all Chinese nationals. Said incident led to thousands upon thousands of hotel bookings getting cancelled across the country, as well as causing a precipitous drop in the number of Chinese tourist arrivals into the Kingdom.

But Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly committee on religion, culture and tourism, are refusing to let the recent issues stop tourists from travelling for Koh Tao villas and beach vacations. Currently, Thailand holds the reputation as one of the best, if not the best, destination for Chinese tourists travelling internationally.

To that end, they held a special seminar late in July in the capital. There, proposals were discussed on how to entice Chinese tourists back into the Kingdom, as well as improving safety and security measures to ensure their well-being and peace of mind.

One particular initiative took the interest of WeerasakKowsurat, the Tourism and Sports Minister, which was to make travel insurance compulsory for any foreign visitor coming into the country.  Notably, this isn’t the first time the Kingdom has looked into the idea after the foreign tourists racked up a total of TBH3 billion (US$9.2 million) in unpaid hospital bills.

The seminar and its attendees were made aware of the fact that the boating accident cost Thailand THB64 million (US$1.9 million) in compensation paid to the families of the deceased. Said payout led to the country’s tourist protection fund being one major accident away from being completely drained.

The travel insurance hasn’t been enforced yet, but local news channels say that the Office of the Insurance Commission will be working on establishing distribution channels, like insurance vending machines at the international airports in the country.

Weerasak has admitted that there’s been too many major incidents in Thailand, despite the fact that absolutely no one wants them. He believes that, if the country becomes known as being unwilling to compromise on safety, it’ll be another point they can use to attract tourists.

Thailand’s been named as one of the world’s riskiest places, based on the number of insurance claims made from the country, emphasizing how crucial it is for the country to have travel insurance. On the financial side, the cost of travel insurance is minimal compared to the cost of having to handle compensating, on top of reducing the burden on the country’s healthcare system.