Do I really need to get travel insurance? Unfortunately, in Thailand, the answer is usually “yes”. But why is this, and what should you look for in an insurance policy when travelling to Krabi in particular?
The no. 1 reason for taking out insurance for a Krabi holiday is better medical care. Agreed, Thailand is not your typical “third world” country rife with tropical diseases (no vaccinations are necessary for a visit to Krabi), and in fact public healthcare here is relatively cheap. But, unlike in larger Thai cities, the local services in Krabi tend to be very basic: there are no good quality government hospitals or clinics here. We’re talking long waiting times, poor English and sometimes unacceptable hygiene standards.
This means even in the event of a straightforward case of food poisoning, or an ankle sprain you will need to go private, and usually to an international standard clinic, which will charge western (though not American) rates. If anything more serious (heaven forbid!) were to happen, requiring inpatient treatment, you would be looking at a large bill from an international hospital in Phuket. Even a broken arm can run to several thousand dollars in medical fees.
If you plan to rent a motorbike to get around, travel insurance should be considered essential, as this is one of the easiest ways to get injured (just slipping on sand while going round a corner will give you nasty grazes) and the rental companies never provide insurance for accidents or theft.
Another reason to take out travel insurance is the classic change in plans, either from your side (if you are booking far ahead of your travel dates), or due to unexpected events during your Thailand trip, such as flight delays, missed connections and so on – all fairly common scenarios, especially with the budget airlines that fly to Krabi, none of whom take responsibility for such events.
If you think this might be an issue, check that your travel insurance will cover the cost of replaced or cancelled flight tickets and hotel no-show penalties. Look for specifics: we have seen trips here cancelled for many reasons – illness, pregnancy, floods, or even because of political unrest far from Krabi (like the 2010 demonstrations in Bangkok) – and you need to make sure most of these instances are covered.
The third reason most people like to take out travel insurance is to protect their belongings while abroad: unfortunately most providers won’t actually do this, unless you pay a premium (or they deduct a large excess fee). You may be happy to know, however, that pickpocketing is not common in Krabi and normal precautions (not leaving valuables on the beach while you swim, making use of your hotel room safe) will protect your uninsured phone, laptop or camera from being stolen. Travel insurance should normally cover bags lost in transit or any other similar scenarios, however – to a certain limit.
As you can see from the above, buying the right kind of insurance for your needs is critical, otherwise you may find you are not able to claim for the things you need, at the time you need them. Check your current or proposed policy carefully before you travel.
If you do not yet have travel insurance for Thailand, we would recommend the services of World Nomads, who provide travel insurance specially designed for the independent and adventurous travellers that our readers tend to be :)
An Australian company, with 24 hour global assistance covering residents of 150 countries, World Nomads will allow you to buy policies, file claims and extend your coverage online, even while on the road.
(FYI, they are also recommended by Nat Geo Adventure, Lonely Planet and Rough Guides, not only for their flexible and robust service, but because they give back to the people you visit through sponsored community projects around the globe.)
What we like: unlike most insurers, who refuse claims for doing anything more dangerous than lying on the beach, World Nomads will cover you for injuries sustained during the “adventure” activities typical during a visit to Krabi: rock climbing, scuba diving, kayaking and so on. Though tour operators here usually do provide their own insurance for customers, you may find having your own policy gives you extra peace of mind. World Nomads also provides medical evacuation (repatriation) if necessary.
Use the form above (or below on mobile browsers) to get a free quote: policies can be tailored from a simple family weekend away to students on a gap year. Different levels of coverage are available – from basic medical to full cover including theft – and most countries in the world (not just Thailand) are included in your policy. Our advice would be to read the small print on all offers, bearing in mind the points above, before choosing the best one for you: it may be dull, but it will ensure you have a stress-free holiday, plus save any head-and-heartaches later.
Last updated: September 10, 2012