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Songkran Festival, Thailand (photo: TAT)

Thailand to make travel insurance compulsory

A new proposal that is likely to be approved will ensure that all foreign arrivals buy various levels of insurance.

Thailand says it wants to bring in compulsory travel insurance for international visitors in the near future, following a series of accidents involving tourists that have cast a negative spotlight on the destination.

Visitor numbers that are continuing to surge have intensified the challenge of unpaid medical treatment fees incurred by tourists, the country’s tourism minister Weerasak Kowsurat tells TTG Asia.

“I’m introducing new legislation, probably within [this year or next year], to require self-insurance for all arrivals into Thailand – it will be one or two dollars more for each person,” he says.

“This common pool of money will be used to buy one insurance policy [to cover all international visitors]. We are barred by law to use our budget to buy insurance policies for international arrivals.”

He continues: “If travellers want to get involved in more challenging activities, like climbing mountains or diving in the sea, I’ll put into law to make sure service operators stop them from entering into the activity unless they buy the second level of insurance. And if they’re driving any vehicles, they will need another kind of insurance.”

Good idea
The move has received positive feedback from tour operators and agents, although it also opens up questions on how the new requirements will be implemented.

“Travel insurance should be compulsory for each visitor so as not to be a burden on the visiting country. We all have to be responsible visitors, and most reputable travel insurance suppliers already offer basic cover for low-risk activities,” Philip Wigglesworth, general manager of Destination Asia Thailand, comments.

“However, for what we would consider extreme sports, there should be a travel insurance supplement to ensure that the traveller is fully covered for all risks.”

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